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State Representative John Lesch

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100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
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For more information contact: DJ Danielson 651-296-8879

Posted: 2017-04-07
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Legislative Update

Capitol Update - April 7, 2017


Dear Neighbors,

This week we’re wrapping up work on the budget bills brought forth by the Republicans in the House Majority. Unfortunately, as I’ve pointed out previously, because of their insistence on oversized tax cuts for the richest Minnesotans, we’ve seen regular Minnesotans shortchanged in many key areas.

One of the most significant areas is in education, where inflationary costs aren’t even covered. If it becomes law, it will undoubtedly lead to teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, and reduced support services for students. The Republican education plan also eliminates funding for the successful voluntary pre-K program, a key priority of Gov. Dayton.

This isn’t to say there weren’t opportunities for bipartisan cooperation in a few key areas this week, and I’d like to highlight some of those.

Legacy

Minnesotans take pride and enjoyment from our natural resources and the arts. This week we passed the Legacy Bill unanimously off the House Floor which allocates constitutionally dedicated funds to clean water, parks and trails, and arts and cultural heritage. The package funds all parts of the state and includes many diverse projects and initiatives including several in St. Paul, such as the Como Zoo, Minnesota Children’s Museum, the China Friendship Garden by Lake Phalen, and a commemorative plaza to celebrate the heritage of the Rondo Neighborhood. I’m pleased that the Legacy bill again includes funding for AMPERS radio stations, which distributes the wonderful “Veterans’ Voices” radio program.

On the House Floor, we were able to adopt an amendment on a bipartisan basis to give the Department of Agriculture more resources to fight Emerald Ash Borer. This is a slow moving, but serious crisis has the potential to destroy tree populations in our communities, leaving an enormous cost for their removal.

Internet Data Privacy

As part of the debate on the Omnibus Jobs and Energy Bill, several amendments were adopted, including one of mine, to protect the privacy of Minnesotans who access the internet and utilize other technology. As you may have heard, the U.S. Congress recently sold out citizens by allowing internet companies to sell data, such as browsing history, to other corporations. My amendment prohibits internet providers from refusing to offer service to customers who don’t agree to the collection of their personal data

As technology continues to develop and facilitate changes in how we communicate with one another, government and corporations alike must have their ability to gather, use and sell this data remain in check. It’s important for Legislators to stand up for people as corporate interests get more and more powerful. The amendment was a small step toward ensuring citizens have control over their privacy, and not internet corporations.

Facebook launches tools to combat revenge porn

As you may know, last year the Legislature approved my bill to create penalties for “revenge porn,” which occurs when intimate images or video are shared without consent of one of the parties involved. This week, Facebook announced that it would apply photo-matching software to help stop the spread of this pervasive crime that occurs all over social media and the internet.

CNN covered these efforts, and you can check out the story here. I applaud groups such as the National Network to End Domestic Violence and the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women for their leadership in getting big tech companies on board with the efforts to stop this activity.

Next week, the Legislature will be on recess in observance of Easter and Passover. When we return on April 18, much time will be spent on the floor debating various policy bills, and House/Senate conference committees will consider differences in the various budget bills between both bodies. I encourage you to keep in touch with your viewpoints as the session will enter its final weeks.

Sincerely,

John Lesch

State Representative

 

 

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