We are in the final stretch of the 2020 session, with less than a week until adjournment. This means weekend House sessions are in play, including last Saturday. Here is a sample of items we have addressed in the past four days:
HF 745 Prohibiting Marriage of Minors: Passed, 132-0. Requires individuals to be 18 years of age or older before being allowed to marry.
HF 3495 COVID-19 Elections Bill: Passed, 122-10. I voted in favor of providing $1.4 million in state funds available to leverage $7.4 million in federal funds to improve the security of elections and allow local jurisdictions to adjust polling place locations and other items in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
HF 331 Tobacco 21 Statewide: Passed, 89-41. I voted in favor of conforming Minnesota law to the current federal ban on selling tobacco products to those younger than 21. The Senate has the bill for further action.
HF 2768 State Labor Contract Ratification: Passed, 74-60. With considerable reservation, I did not support this bill. It adds over $1 billion in additional state spending to an already severely underwater state budget. I was very disappointed that the bill failed to recognize the serous situation all Minnesotans face today. The middle ground would be freezing current public employee pay schedules and keep the previously granted 2019 pay raises in place under the new contract. The bill is now in the Senate, where it may see significant modification, which would bring it back to the House for further consideration.
It’s unfortunate that public employees are caught in the middle. However, I don’t believe it is appropriate to approve future pay raises that would go into effect later this year while a huge number of Minnesotans have already sacrificed their entire paychecks through no fault of their own.
HF 4502 Energy Conservation: Passed, 79-55. I did not support this bill, despite it containing items that benefited rural electric cooperatives. Unfortunately, it also contained items that would have hurt our rural propane cooperatives and general industrial and agriculture fuel distributors.
HF 1883 COVID Funding Extension: Passed, 131-0. Extends the governor’s access to the remaining $37 million of the original $200 million COVID-19 emergency appropriation. Access expired May 8. The funds may only be used for the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s in Senate court now.
More to follow as we work toward mandatory adjournment on May 18.