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Spring is in the air. Committee deadlines are upon us, with the first arriving at midnight last night, and the second next Thursday, so the atmosphere is busy. Here’s an update from the State Capitol.
This week both IBEW and AFSCME members held their days on the hill, and I got an update on their activities.
Finally, students from Aquila Elementary in St. Louis Park visited the Capitol. I’m a proud Aquila alum!
March for Our Lives: Tomorrow
Tomorrow at 9:00 a.m., students and other advocates will march from Harriet Island to the State Capitol calling for action to prevent gun violence in Minnesota. This event is in coordination with other marches across the nation, including one in Washington, D.C., with Americans joining together to say: “enough.”
Unfortunately, efforts in the Public Safety Committee to move forward two common-sense prevention strategies were defeated this week. My colleague, Rep. Dave Pinto of St. Paul, authored these bills. The first would expand criminal background checks for gun sales. The second would create “extreme risk protection orders,” which would allow concerned family members or police to petition a court to remove guns from someone posing a danger to themselves or others.
I hope that instead of feeling despair at this lack of action, Minnesotans will feel more emboldened to raise their voices even louder to continue our momentum toward affecting change and ultimately, saving lives.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force Advances
Last night, the House Government Operations Committee unanimously passed a bill to create a task force to tackle the endemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The task force will provide analysis regarding the systemic causes behind the number of missing Native American women in the state to law enforcement, policymakers and the public.
Right now, there’s no official system in place to gather necessary data on this. Nationwide, Native women suffer from violence at a rate two and a half times greater than any other group. In some regions of Minnesota, Native women are murdered at rates that are more than 10 times the national average. This is unacceptable and action is long overdue. I’m very thankful for the leadership of the Native American Caucus in the House to get this bill introduced and considered in committee. This bill is a step in the right direction, and from this task force, I’m hopeful we can develop strategies to end violence against Indigenous women.
MNLARS progress: finally
Yesterday, the House and Senate finalized a compromise to deliver $10 million to continue fixes for MNLARS, the state’s new driver and vehicle licensing and registration system. Governor Dayton signed the measure shortly afterward. This funding will enable IT professionals to continue work fixing this system which upon its launch, had significant problems.
Fundamental government functions like the issuance of titles and tabs should be seamless, and when it’s not, it needs to be fixed. Although I’m disappointed it took this long, I’m glad a solution was reached so performance on this system can be improved to a level Minnesotans deserve.
Efforts to take away health care from Minnesotans
Earlier this week, the Health and Human Services Reform Committee passed a bill adding new requirements for people who receive Medical Assistance (MA), Minnesota’s equivalent to Medicaid. This program provides vital coverage for people with disabilities, pregnant mothers, seniors, and those with low-incomes, under about $16,000. Most MA recipients work, and many experience conditions making it difficult to maintain employment, like mental illness or substance abuse.
Shamefully, proponents of the bill claimed these new restrictions would give people dignity and lift them out of poverty. I fail to see how taking away anyone’s health care accomplishes this. Health care is a fundamental right, and we should expand opportunities for people to access it, not take it away. To truly lift people out of poverty, let’s remove obstacles families face as they seek economic security. Let’s work to get rid of barriers like a lack of affordable child care, inadequate sick time or paid family leave, and poor transit options, not threaten to take away health care coverage.
Please continue to reach out with your feedback and ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance.
Rep. Peggy Flanagan
309 State Office Building
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