It was a busy week here at the capitol with the first legislative deadline of the 2019 session and many rallies and days on the hill. The first deadline requires policy bills to have had their first hearing in the committee of origin unless the companion bill in the House has been heard. Finance, tax, and capital investment bills do not have to meet this deadline. As always, thank you for tuning in to events here at the capitol. It’s been a busy first few weeks and I’ve been glad to see so many constituents come visit me in St. Paul.
Below are just some of the highlights and topics being discussed. I appreciate you all sharing your thoughts and concerns with me and look forward to another long week.
College Promise would give more students a chance at higher education
A bill that I am chief authoring was heard in the Higher Education committee this week. This bill creates a community and technical college grant program for Minnesota residents enrolled in a community or technical college to pay for tuition and fees. This program would phase-in the percentage paid until 100 percent implementation in 10 years.The grants will cover tuition, fees and course material costs for student, minus any federal Pell grant, state grant or scholarship the student receives.
In 2017, 58,374 students earned high school diplomas, but 41,447 enrolled in higher education institution within 16 months. Studies show that individuals with bachelor’s degrees, no matter the field, earn more over their lifetimes than counterparts with some college ($1.55 million in lifetime earnings) or a high school diploma ($1.30 million lifetime).
A similar bill was also heard in committee. These bills start a needed conversation regarding college affordability. The two bills were laid over for further discussion while the committee awaits fiscal notes for the legislation. (SF 1308, SF 956)
Calling on the Minnesota Senate to take up gun violence prevention bills
Hundreds of students, mothers, and other advocates joined together at the Capitol this week, in support of legislation for gun violence prevention in the state of Minnesota. The event was organized by the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action and the Everytown Survivor Network to urge the Minnesota Senate to hold hearings on two bills that would require criminal background checks on gun sales in Minnesota and enact red flag laws.
Moms Demand Action is a nationwide grassroots movement advocating for public safety measures that protect people from gun violence. Like the other 49 chapters across the country, Minnesota’s Moms Demand Action seeks stronger solutions to the casual gun laws and loopholes that have normalized gun violence and threatened public safety nationwide.
Though bills to close dangerous loopholes have overwhelming support from the public and have moved through House committees, the Senate majority leadership refuses to hear bills on this serious issue. With a strong commitment to protecting Minnesotans’ right to public safety, many in the Senate will continue to advocate for gun violence prevention in the state. (SF 436, SF 434)
I had the opportunity to meet with a group of constituents from Moms Demand Action on Wednesday.
Bipartisan bills would ban the use of TCE and provide oversight of Water Gremlin settlement proceeds
This week also brought more action from myself and a fellow bipartisan group of legislators regarding the TCE emissions in the district. Two bills were heard this week to continue to address the Water Gremlin situation in White Bear Lake. The legislation is aimed at strengthening public protections, transparency, and accountability. The bills call for an outright ban on the use of TCE, the creation of a TCE Emission Response Account to manage the proceeds of the Water Gremlin settlement, and more thorough plan for communicating with the public during potential future incidents.
From left to right: Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood),Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), Sen. Jason Isaacson (DFL-Shoreview)