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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sandra Feist (DFL)

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Legislative Update: March 2, 2021

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

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Dear Neighbors,

My son’s birthday was this weekend! To celebrate, he and a few friends ran around in the melting snow with cardboard swords shouting gleefully for hours. In the evening, we had ice cream cake and watched “School of Rock,” his favorite movie. These milestones always bring home how quickly the days and years pass, and how important it is to savor the moment. I do a “gratitude practice” every day to count my blessings - my family, my community, and the incredible honor of serving in the Minnesota House of Representatives. 

As the winter begins to thaw, and baseball season nears (Go Twins!), I hope that everyone is finding the space in their lives to appreciate the goodness all around us, and to commit to ensuring that we all have an equal share in the bounty that Minnesota has to offer.

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Progress on Legislation

The legislature moves rapidly as the many puzzle pieces that move a bill to becoming law fall into place. This week, I’d like to share an update on several bills I am working on.

Veterans Restorative Justice Act - We made progress last week after passing the bill successfully through the Judiciary Committee. This Thursday, I will present this bill before the Public Safety Committee. You can tune in on the House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.

Pension Bill - I will present this bill (HF1497) today before the Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement. The bill conforms our state pension statutes with federal immigration law.

Suicide Prevention Training Funding - I will present this bill on Wednesday in the Education Finance Committee, with a representative from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) testifying on the importance of funding effective suicide prevention training for our educators - especially after such a tumultuous, challenging year for our kids. The hearing will be livestreamed on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.

Next Generation Climate Act - I recently signed on as a co-author to Rep. Patty Acomb’s bill HF1428 to set new state targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The bill is currently referred to the Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee for a hearing. 

Update on Minnesota’s Economic Forecast

Twice each year, near the end of November and February, Minnesota Management & Budget (MMB) produces a forecast of the state’s General Fund revenues and expenditures for current and future bienniums. Based on the announcement from today, there is no longer an anticipated shortfall for 2022-23 fiscal year. The projected positive balance is $1.6 billion due to higher revenue forecast, lower state spending, and an increased balance for the current fiscal year.

At the legislature, we will work to prioritize investments that put people first and create a better quality of life for all Minnesotans.

Prove it First bill 

The Minnesota Supreme Court recently found that the Pollution Control Agency is not legally obligated to investigate credible allegations of PolyMet submitting false or misleading information on permit requests. 

House File 148, introduced by Rep. Davnie, requires that full relevant facts relating to permit applications be disclosed prior to approval, including scientific proof that a similar mine has operated somewhere else in the United States for at least 10 years, and has been closed for another 10 years without causing pollution. I am a co-author of this bill because it's our responsibility to ensure  protection for all of Minnesota's watersheds from dangerous copper-sulfide mining. 

Students are Returning to In-Person Classrooms

Last week, the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee heard testimony on House File 289, A student-led bill that would grant immunity from prosecution to persons seeking emergency aid for a sexual assault survivor while underage or under the influence of certain controlled substances. 

I signed on as a co-author of this legislation because sexual violence is not a matter we can take lightly, and this step is crucial to make Minnesota a safer place to live. This bill is what we know as a good samaritan bill, which strives to remove the hesitations that hold witnesses back from reporting, finding help, or testifying to these crimes. You can hear the full hearing footage here.

Advocating for Sexual Assault Survivors 

Last week, the Minnesota House DFL introduced “Driver's Licenses for All” legislation, on which I am a co-author. The goal of this bill is to ensure that all drivers who are on our roads - including those who are currently unlicensed and uninsured due to a lack of immigration status - have the necessary training and licensure required to keep our roads safe. 

This bill has many facets, in addition to the core public safety objectives. Ultimately, it’s about enabling immigrant caregivers to attend to the educational, healthcare and social needs of family members, many of whom are U.S. citizens. It’s about ensuring that the many frontline workers, such as the immigrants working at Minnesota’s meatpacking plants, are able to contribute to our food supply and economy. Ultimately, by denying the right to a driver's license we're denying families opportunities, endangering public safety, and criminalizing participation in civic life. 

You can watch the press conference or read the bill here.

COVID-19 vaccine video series in Spanish, Somali, Hmong, and English

The Sahan Journal recently published an article with Community leaders Jessica Acevedo, Michael Yang, and Maxamuud Mascadde who came together to produce a series of videos addressing questions and providing resources in Spanish, Somali, Hmong and English to communicate COVID-19 related information to individuals with language barriers. 

You can read the article, share and watch the videos here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Timeline

As Spring approaches we can also see our path out of this pandemic. Below is the graphic that details clearly which population will be eligible to receive the vaccine and when. It’s important to note that our state’s goal is for all Minnesotans to have access to get the vaccine by this Summer.

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Staying in Touch

Thanks to those of you who reached out this week! I heard from members of the community on a variety of topics, including increasing teachers of color in our schools, stemming the militarization of local law enforcement, cannabis legalization (both pro and con) and on the expansion of telehealth post-pandemic to continue to reap the rewards of this expanded access to health care.

You can stay up to date on our work for the 2021 Legislative Session by subscribing to these legislative updates and “liking” my official Facebook page. For any questions you have on the resources available to our community or our work in the Minnesota House, you can reach me at rep.sandra.feist@house.mn or leave a voicemail at (651) 296-4331. I look forward to hearing from you.

In Solidarity, 

Sandra Feist

Minnesota State representative (House District 41B)

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