Thanks for a great town hall meeting!
We hosted a town hall meeting on Sunday, March 18, and we had a great turnout! Thanks to all who were able to make it! We're always so grateful that you take the time to come out and share your thoughts with us. The conversation, questions and advice are wonderful and help us bring your voices to the capitol. We also want to thank special guest, Nan Madden, from the Minnesota Budget Project who presented about the federal tax bill and how that may affect Minnesotans.
We plan to host another town hall meeting after session has concluded to chat about final tax negotiations, legislation that got passed, and hear your thoughts. If you couldn’t make it to the town hall meeting to share your insight, please feel free to call or write to us with any questions, ideas or issues of interest to you. Our contact information is at the bottom of this email.
Sen. Scott Dibble, Rep. Frank Hornstein and Rep. Paul Thissen
Your Senate District 61 legislative team
Rep. Hornstein,Sen. Dibble, and Rep. Thissen answer a question about tax conformity at the March 18 Town Hall with more than eighty constituents in attendance
Gun safety protections, students bring their efforts to the Capitol
This Saturday, March 24th Minnesota students and advocates marched from Harriet Island to the State Capitol in Saint Paul to demand action on gun violence prevention from legislative leaders. This coordinated effort stemmed from a student rally organized in Washington DC and has spread to communities across the country. Rep. Frank Hornsteinspoke in support of the students efforts, “They are moving the needle...They’re waking up the country.”
A protester holds a sign at the March for Our Lives in St. Paul, March 24, 2018
On Monday, March 26th Sen. Scott Dibble spoke at a press conference to announce the Senate DFL Gun Safety Plan, which continues the conversation started by the students. (Watch the press conference here.) He highlighted how gun safety measures are supported by a majority of Minnesotans saying, "We all agree, guns are not the issue. No one here is anti-gun, we are all pro-gun safety." Sen. Dibble spoke alongside other lawmakers, doctors, members of law enforcement, a school social worker, medical students, and members of the Students Demand Action group.
Sen. Dibble speaks at a press conference on gun safety March 26, 2018 (left); Sen. Dibble with high school students who attended the March for Our Lives in D.C. (right)
Funding passed for Minnesota License and Registration System (MNLARS)
On Thursday, March 22, the Legislature passed a bill to provide funding for continued improvements and development for MNLARS (SF 3133). Since its roll-out in July 2017, the vehicle services components of MNLARS have had system failures, making tab renewals and vehicle title transactions more difficult for many Minnesotans. Sen. Dibble supported allowing some of the funding to be used for additional staff at the call center saying, “A number of the complaints that we receive from our constituents are fairly easily resolved with a simple phone call. They’re frustrated that they’re not getting their questions answered.” Despite efforts, this use of funds was not included in the final bill.
The bill that passed provides $10 million from an existing account in Driver and Vehicle Services, including $350,000 over the next two years for an information technology auditor to examine the progress being made on MNLARS, budgeting on the project and interaction with stakeholders like the deputy registrars. The bill conditions the funding to be released on a quarterly basis by a steering committee of six legislators, who will receive quarterly progress reports from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Office of Information Technology (MN.IT). If a majority of the six legislators vote to slow, reduce, or condition the release of the quarterly allotment based on the progress report, the commissioners have 20 days to work to resolve the concerns of the legislators If the legislators are still not satisfied, the quarterly allotment is not released, and DPS and MN.IT would need to submit proposed legislation to fund MNLARS during the next legislative session.
Sen. Dibble speaks on the Senate Floor about a version of the MNLARS bill on Thurs. March 15
Rep. Hornstein stands up for DACA recipients
Rep. Hornstein stood in solidarity with Dreamers and immigrant families earlier this month alongside Sen. Torres Ray. They issued a resolution calling for "President Trump and Congress to continue the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, encourage a permanent pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, and to continue the Temporary Protected Status."
Governor Dayton's final State of the State address
Governor Mark Dayton gave his eighth and final State of the State address on Wednesday, March 14. Watch it here. Gov. Dayton outlined his accomplishments during his two terms as our governor. When Gov. Dayton came into office, he inherited a $6.2 billion budget deficit and $1.9 billion had been borrowed from our public schools. Fixing the state’s budget mess and providing fiscal stability has been a hallmark of his administration. His administration led us to nine budget surpluses out of ten budget forecasts. Today, we have $1.9 billion in budget reserves and last month state officials forecast a $329 million surplus for the remainder of the current two-year budget cycle.
Gov. Dayton asked the legislature to pass his proposed clean water investments in the bonding bill to repair our aging, under-funded clean water infrastructure and make clean water available and affordable for every Minnesota community. More than 40% of Minnesota’s waters are listed as impaired or polluted, and more and more rural drinking water systems are having to deal with nitrate contamination. Across Minnesota, water treatment plants and clean drinking water systems that keep our waters safe are in serious disrepair.
Minnesota also made sensible investments in our economy and job creation. When Dayton took office, more than 200,000 Minnesotans were out of work and the unemployment rate was 6.9%. Today, our jobless rate is at 3.3% and we’ve created more than 286,000 new jobs.
Gov. Dayton with Sen. Dibble and Rep. Hornstein at the Governor's Reception at the start of the 2018 Legislative Session (left); Gov. Dayton takes arrives for his final State of the State Address on March 14, 2018 (right)
Rep. Paul Thissen makes the short list of Supreme Court nominees
Last week Wednesday, March 21, a short list of nominees to the Minnesota Supreme Court was released. It is expected that Governor Dayton will pick one person from among the four named to the vacant seat on the Court. Rep. Thissen is not running for a ninth term in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Congratulations to Rep. Paul Thissen!
Rep. Paul Thissen