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It was a fairly light week here at the Capitol, as cold weather impacted the State this week. I anticipate we will begin ramping up next week as we begin to look at candidates for Regents as well as pieces of legislation work their way through committees.

Minnesota Senate Continues to Work in Spite of Cold Weather

Week four of the 2019 Legislative Session kicked off with a joint Senate and House press conference on the legalization of recreational cannabis. The issue of cannabis legalization is one that is moving fast around the country. Their goal is to secure a legislative hearing and to begin the discussion on this issue.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue started accepting tax returns on Monday, Jan. 28. The deadline for filing taxes is April 15.
The family of Steve Rummler, whose HOPE Network has been advocating to raise awareness and to pass legislation to address the opioid addiction crisis, held a press conference this week. They were joined by advocates and a bipartisan group of legislators carrying bills to address this crisis.

With the record cold weather, many committees canceled their hearings in the middle of the week. Despite the cold, committees still heard a continuation of overviews, reviewed ways the state can reduce TEFRA costs for families, and looked at proposals to strengthen sexual assault laws.

A number of groups held events and rallies at the capitol this week, including a Don’t Punish the Pain rally, Opioid Awareness Day rally, and MinnState colleges and universities Innovation Day. ABATE held their Annual Biker Day, and Minnesota Milk hosted an ice cream social.

Press Release on Potential TCE Exposure

Earlier this week, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced they are investigating possible community exposures to high levels of trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent used by a manufacturer in White Bear Township.I am working with state agencies and communities in determining how this exposure occurred, and the public health threat it poses to community members in White Bear Lake, White Bear Township, and Gem Lake. My top priority is in finding out what the state can do to address any potential health effects that people may have been exposed to. We are taking this incident seriously and will be ensuring that any action to safeguard people’s health is taken immediately. You can read the full press release here.

Legislation Addressing Delays with MNLARS

After a constituent wrote to me back in December regarding delays and headaches with the MNLARS system, I joined my colleagues, Senators Cwodzinski and Little, in offering a bill that would allow impacted individuals to renew their temporary papers by phone, mail, or email. The goal of this legislation is to provide relief to individuals facing difficulties renewing state identification in person. You can read the bill here.

In Committee

Agriculture Update on Noxious Weeds and Invasive Pests

The Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Policy Committee heard an update on Palmer amaranth, emerald ash borers, and gypsy moths to eradicate and limit the spread of these pests. These invasive pests can have devastating impacts in Minnesota.

Watch the committee hearing from January 29 here.