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State Representative JoAnn Ward

231 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-7807

For more information contact: Gina Vega 651-296-5526

Posted: 2018-03-15
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Legislative Update

Legislative Update- March 15, 2018


Dear Neighbors,

The melting snow and sunshine is a nice reminder that spring is just around the corner. There’s also a lot happening at the Capitol. Here’s an update:

Dayton’s Final State of the State

Yesterday, Governor Dayton delivered his final State of the State address. The speech was a reminder that when we invest in each other and build on our state’s values, we can achieve tremendous things. In the past eight years we’ve gone from deficits and borrowing money from our schools to surpluses and record investments that have made Minnesota the best state in the country.

 

#1 Best Run State

 

USA Today

 
 

#1 Best State to Retire

 

AARP

 
 

#1 Best State for Women

 

Wallet Hub

 
 

#2 Best State for Families

 

Wallet Hub

 
 

#2 Strongest State

 

POLITICO

 
 

#2 Best State Overall

 

U.S. News & World Report

 
 

#3 Best State for Business

 

CNBC

 
 

#4 America’s Goals for 2030 State Report Card

 

Future Now

 
 

 

It was also my last State of the State as your state representative.  It has been an honor to work alongside the Governor and my colleagues to see such progress made.

Every Minnesotan deserves an opportunity to succeed, and we can only make that a reality by continuing to invest in the things that make life better for all of us.

Hands Free Legislation Advances in House

A bill I’ve co-sponsored banning handheld cellphone use when operating a motor vehicle advanced to its third and final committee.  The Ways and Means Committee is the bill’s last stop before heading to the House Floor for a full vote of all representatives.

Distracted driving fatalities are on the increase- up 18 percent between 2014 and 2015 and with technology capabilities constantly growing, the numbers are too.  Distracted driving is now the fourth most common contributing factor in traffic fatalities behind speed, impairment and fatigue.  

The bill would still allow phone usage in a voice-activated or hands-free mode and in some emergency situations. Devices that function solely for GPS or navigation purposes could also still be used.

Advocates of the bill were distributing CellSlips, which block all cellular, wifi, and bluetooth signals as long as a cell phone is placed completely inside and the pouch is sealed. This is a great option for those who are tempted to take a quick look at their cell phones while driving.   

The Senate companion bill awaits a hearing; I hope they will take action so we can pass the bill into law and prevent more senseless deaths on the road.  

Minnesota Bike Summit

Today, the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota held their Day at the Capitol to share their legislative platform. The Alliance had several policy changes they feel will make riding a bike safer and further clarify MnDOT’s responsibilities and partnerships regarding the state’s bikeways. You can read more about these initiatives here.

Advocates and attendees also celebrated the one year anniversary of the off street biking and walking path established on the border between Maplewood and Woodbury to and from 3M.  Below is a photo of the ribbon cutting celebration last year.

House Image

Protecting MN Seniors from Abuse

Last year, the Star Tribune published a series that detailed serious abuses, sexual assault, and other mistreatment going uninvestigated in Minnesota’s senior care facilities. After investigations by AARP and the Office of the Legislative Auditor, Governor Dayton joined legislators to announce a broad set of reforms and investments to hold providers found guilty of abuse accountable and protect the health, safety, and dignity of seniors and vulnerable adults.

While significant changes have been made and the backlog of uninvestigated claims is being addressed, I’m committed to making sure we do everything we can to ensure this never happens again. Our seniors deserve to live with safety, security and dignity.

Please always feel free to contact me with any ideas, input or suggestions. I appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,

JoAnn Ward

 

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