For more information contact: Tyler Blackmon 651-296-8826
Neighbors and Friends,
The Easter and Passover break has concluded, and we returned to St. Paul on Tuesday to begin wrapping up the 2017 legislative session. Here is an update:
FIVE WEEKS TO GO
We have a full agenda ahead as we complete the budget process before the constitutional adjournment deadline of May 22. Most finance bills have been passed and either are in conference committee or will be shortly. House and Senate conferees were appointed by the Speaker of the House to compare the different versions of each finance bill. Governor Dayton will also be very involved in the process as we seek to reach agreement on the final budget.
PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESSES
Over the break, I had time to sit down with local business leaders who have been plagued with frivolous lawsuits that are threatening their businesses.
The intent of current disability laws that make our businesses handicap accessible is good. But unfortunately, there are some lawyers out there who swoop in with a lawsuit, force struggling small business owners to settle rather than go through an expensive court hearing, and then walk away with their money.
These abusive practices aren't making our businesses any more accessible for Minnesotans, and they're harming small businesses' ability to grow and create jobs.
We need to think of better ways to make our businesses more handicap accessible while deterring these unscrupulous lawsuits that are holding our small businesses back. I was grateful to hear from small business owners on this important issue over the break.
JOBS ALONG THE RAILROAD
With some time off, I also met with constituents who would be affected by the closing of the Hugo-White Bear Lake Short Line Railway. We stand to lose 500 jobs if a bonding bill doesn't pass and repair the deteriorating rail line in our area. With so many businesses relying on this line, it should be a top priority for state lawmakers if they truly value job creation.
Luckily, the Governor has introduced a bonding bill, and the Republican Senate has introduced a bonding bill that includes this project. But the House Majority has so far refused to introduce a House bonding bill.
With just five weeks to go in the legislative session, I'm increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress on providing a bonding bill when it is needed to get things done for Minnesota.
It's time to get a bonding bill passed.
STILL NO PROGRESS FOR HOME CARE WORKERS
I've written many times about the dire need for a raise for our personal care attendants who assist the elderly and the disabled here in Minnesota.
Here's the thing: I recently heard evidence in committee that people are quite literally starting to die because they cannot find any personal care attendants to hire - the wages we pay are just too low. And yet, the Health & Human Services bill passed in the House does not address this problem head-on.
These workers and the vulnerable clients they serve deserve better. None of us knows when we or someone we love is going to wind up in such a vulnerable position, and we need to ensure someone will be there for us when the time comes.
I care passionately about this issue because, to me, it is simply a matter of basic social justice, something I learned about at my church. If we aren't taking care of the most vulnerable among us, what does that say about who we are as Minnesotans?
CONSERVATION & ENERGY MEET-AND-GREET
You're invited to an informal meet-and-greet with our Senate District 43 legislators and Conservation Minnesota next Wednesday. Details below:
What: “Conservation and Energy Meet-and-Greet” with local leaders, Senator Chuck Wiger and Representatives Leon Lillie and Peter Fischer. This is an informal meeting to discuss conservation topics such as renewable energy, clean water, recycling, and more. This is a great opportunity to connect with your state leaders to learn what they are working on as well as share your concerns.
When: Wednesday, April 26th at 7:00pm
Where: Maplewood Public Library, Community Program Room (3025 Southlawn Dr, Maplewood, MN 55109)
For whom: This is an open meeting for folks who live in the White Bear Lake, Oakdale, North St. Paul, Maplewood, and Mahtomedi areas who care about conservation and the environment.
RSVP: All who wish to attend are asked to RSVP to Julie Drennen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (612) 767-1569.
See more on Conservation Minnesota’s website.
As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns.
Rep. Peter Fischer