For more information contact: Leah Patton 651-296-9895
Now that a couple of weeks have gone by since the end of session, I thought I would take the time to go over where we stand on some rarely discussed measures that passed the House, and have been signed by the Governor, as well as causes I will continue to advocate for next year.
I understand the frustration that people voiced after the close of session, and no one was more disappointed about the bonding/transportation package not passing than us in the House. So many representatives, including myself, worked very hard to have their projects included in that bill, and passing a transportation plan has been our top priority for the past two sessions. If there were any way we could have passed that bill, instead of having to break bad news to our districts, we would have, but you can’t control the person on the other side of a negotiation. The Senate went back on our agreement, and that was out of our hands.
Something that I think gets lost in these discussions, however, is the fact that the vast majority of the time we work across the aisle and pass meaningful, common sense legislation. There were hundreds of bills that successfully moved through the process this year and passed with bipartisan support. Of course, those bills don’t often make the front page of the newspaper, but that’s how the legislature works the majority of the time; quietly, and effectively.
Supplemental Budget Proposal Signed by the Governor
One of the major bills we passed this year was the Supplemental Budget bill, which was signed by Governor Dayton on Wednesday, June 1st.
This bill included several important reforms, including three provisions I authored. The first measure would require the Minnesota Department of Education to post criteria on their website for non-profits applying for a food and nutrition program, clarifying the process. The second measure allocates $69,000 in funding for hearing-impaired preschool students to attend the Metro Deaf School. My third provision in the supplemental budget makes changes to the Manufactured Home Trust Fund, increasing the maximum and minimum amounts that can be reimbursed to a homeowner to cover the moving costs if they are forced to relocate from a manufactured home park. The Trust Fund is funded by homeowners and park owners, there are no tax dollars involved.
One of the most notable item in the Supplemental Budget proposal is a provision that makes all military retirement benefits tax-exempt. This will positively impact the over 18,000 retired military men and women who currently live in our state, and hope will encourage more of our best and brightest to live in Minnesota once they leave the service.
This bill passed with bipartisan support, and I am very happy that Governor Dayton signed this measure.
Tax Bill and Special Session
Also on Wednesday, the Governor informed us that there are two specific problems he has with the Tax bill, one of which is a drafting error in the bill text. House leadership has agreed to address both minor issues in the tax bill in a special session, but the Governor will not call a special session unless a long list of other demands are met, which total approximately $200 million in new spending. This is unprecedented. The Governor is attempting to use a special session to legislate from his office, essentially holding the Tax and Bonding/Transportation proposals back for a list of spending requests. The Governor had said numerous times to the press that he would not hold the Tax bill and Supplemental Budget bill hostage and that he would consider them as a package, and I sincerely hope that he will sign the Tax bill once those two issues are addressed, keeping the Bonding/Transportation proposal as a separate discussion.
A bill that was talked about a lot in the media was a REAL ID solution. The approach we were working on would allow people to continue to get a standard Minnesota driver’s license if they prefer, but would also make REAL IDs available to those wishing to enter federal facilities or board international flights with their IDs. The essential differences between a standard driver’s license and a REAL ID is that the information of a first-time applicant would be securely stored for 10 years (as opposed to 5 years with a standard license), physical features that make a REAL ID much harder to forge, individuals would be required to bring extra documentation proving residency in Minnesota (such as an electric bill), and an individual’s information would be run through the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements system.
This bill did not pass this year, due to the fact that the Senate insisted on a loop-hole in bill language that would allow driver’s licenses to be issue to individuals who are undocumented. I’m disappointed that this bill didn’t pass this year, but it’s often better to pass no bill instead of passing a bad piece of legislation. I’m optimistic that we can pass this measure in time for the federal enforcement deadline for full compliance, which will be in 2020.
Body Cam Bill
A measure that was passed, and signed by Governor Dayton, is the body camera bill for law enforcement. Prior to this legislation, there were no laws providing guidelines to law enforcement as to the use of body cams, and I heard personally from police officers in our area that something needed to be passed this session.
Unless the footage from the body cam becomes a part of a criminal case, the officers, suspects, or people who called for police assistance would have immediate access to the video footage. In addition, only if an incident results in substantial bodily harm will the public be allowed to view camera footage, unless the footage is release by a person who is in the recording, with other non-consenting parties being blurred out.
In addition, it also protects law enforcement by allowing them to have the body camera at all times, preventing any liability or danger posed by the confusion of turning the camera on and off in the line of duty. It also allows for local control in deciding whether or not a police office can view body cam footage before writing a police report.
This bill strikes a balance between privacy, freedom of information, and preventing unintended consequences for law enforcement, and it received bipartisan support.
We also passed a bill to hold a presidential primary in Minnesota. This bill was the result of some frustrations with the caucus system this year, due to the difficulty caused by the unprecedented turnout. There will still be caucuses held, followed by a primary where people can actually cast a ballot for their desired candidate. The upside to a primary system is that the balloting system is treated like an actual election, meaning that people can vote absentee. This allows military personnel and individuals with mobility issues to be able to vote for who they would like to represent their party in the presidential election, enabling more complete participation by people who could not attend caucuses.
Child Protection Task Force Extension
The Child Protection Task Force that was established two years ago has been extended, meaning that it will continue to meet and discuss ways to better serve the well-being and safety of children in Minnesota, and make recommendation to the legislature.
Drug Sentencing Guidelines
This year, the legislature updated drug sentencing guidelines, which have not been adjusted in nearly 30 years. The landscape for substance abuse has changed in the last 30 years, with new drugs emerging, existing substances becoming more prevalent, and others fading in popularity. The new sentencing guidelines address public safety, while simultaneously allowing non-violent and less egregious offenders the opportunity to seek treatment for their chemical dependency. These changes were supported by the Minnesota County Attorney’s Association, and Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.
I was a co-author on legislation that would give home and community-based care providers a 5% raise in pay. It’s a long-needed and well-deserved pay increase for the people who care for our most vulnerable citizens, and while this provision did not pass this session, members from both sides of the aisle will continue to advocate for this issue next year.
ISD 196 Adult Education Graduation
On Thursday, May 26th, I had the chance to join in the celebrating of the ISD 196 Adult Basic Education graduation. Congratulations to our graduates!
Memorial Day Ceremony
On Monday, May 30th, I had the privilege of attending Memorial Day services in both Apple Valley and Rosemount. It was humbling to join with so many in our community to honor all who have served our nation and paid the ultimate price. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families they have left behind.
On Wednesday, June 1st, I had the privilege of attending the Apple Valley Chamber ribbon-cutting for Smallcakes. It’s so exciting to have businesses like this in our community!
Independent School District 196 Legislative Advisory Council
Also on Wednesday, the ISD 196 Legislative Advisory Council met to discuss educational accomplishments from this session, and goals moving forward. Rep. Jon Koznik (R- Lakeville), Rep. Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville), Rep. Sandra Mason (D-Eagan), Rep. Laurie Halverson (D-Eagan), Senator Jim Carlson (D-Eagan), Senator Greg Clausen (D-Apple Valley), and myself were in attendance.
Parents and members of the community provided feedback on the legislative session. I am grateful to have such a productive working relationship with this group; they truly help us serve our district more effectively at the Capitol.
Minnesota Disability Consortium Legislative Breakfast
Yesterday, June 2nd, I had the pleasure of attending the Minnesota Disability Consortium Legislative Breakfast and discuss their successes in advocating for reforms in the recent legislative session, and their goals heading into next year. This group does such a great job advocating for the disability community in Minnesota, and I am proud to work with them at the legislature.
Rosemount Referendum Official Results
I have mentioned the unofficial results of the Rosemount Referendum in a recent email update. The count was 1,292 in favor, with 1,685 against. The results from the May 17th referendum were canvassed and made official on May 20th.
Stay in Touch
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with your comments, questions, and concerns. Email me any time at email@example.com or call 651-296-4306. You can also follow my updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repannawills and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/annacwills.
State Representative 57B
Rosemount, Apple Valley, and Coates
No image galleries found