The second week of the 2020 legislative session was busy with many days on the hill and various groups visiting. I appreciate all those who came to visit this week! Committees also began meeting again this week, I’m excited for the busy weeks to come.
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 week.
Second Chance Coalition advocates at the Capitol
The Minnesota Second Chance Coalition held a press conference this week advocating for their 2020 Legislative Agenda. The organization advocates for effective, just, and responsible laws, policies, and practices to ensure that individuals who have been involved in the justice system have meaningful second chances, so everyone has a path to achieve self-sufficiency and an opportunity to contribute to their communities. They also advocate for policy changes to ensure system-involved youth are not limited in their ability to become successful adults. A group of constituents from the organization visited my office this week.
U of M, MinnState present bonding requests to Higher Education Committee
Higher education funding has been short-changed since 2017. We are working towards fully funding higher education maintaining higher education facilities and programs within the University of Minnesota and MinnState.
Representatives from MinnState and the University of Minnesota gave overviews of their 2020 capital investment requests to the members of the Higher Education Committee this week. Governor Walz has proposed a nearly $490 million for higher education infrastructure this session, but it is unclear as to what the Senate will put forward – though it is likely to be considerably lower than the governor’s proposal, despite the growing needs on campuses across the state.
No action was taken on either request; final decisions on bonding requests will be made later in the legislative session. Left unaddressed, these serious needs will continue to be barriers to learning and educational excellence.
Fireworks bill returns to the Capitol with a bang
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard a bill this week allowing the sale and use of aerial fireworks in Minnesota. Proponents of the bill say aerial fireworks are already being purchased by Minnesotans in bordering states for use at their homes, so the state might as well gain from the sales tax revenue.
Opponents are concerned about safety, citing a sharp increase in fireworks-related injuries starting in 2002, when non-aerial fireworks were made legal in Minnesota. They fear injuries would increase even more if aerial fireworks are legalized. Some in the fireworks industry also fear there aren’t enough protections in the bill to safely operate businesses in Minnesota.
The committee added an amendment that would ban the sale of fireworks only in the seven-county metro area.
The bill (SF 1621) will be heard next in Local Government. As this bill advances, I would love to hear your feedback.