For more information contact: Joan Nichols 651-29X-XXXX
We are on the homeward stretch with only 10 days remaining before we adjourn the 2010 Legislative Session. These unprecedented and challenging times required Minnesota lawmakers to pursue a fast-paced legislative agenda to help boost the stateís recovering economy and balance the budget.
Our job creation strategy resulted in the Omnibus Capital Investment Bill and the Minnesota Jobs Stimulus Bill signed into law early enough to make the most of the upcoming construction season and to start getting some Minnesotans back to work at good paying jobs.
This session Iíve had the opportunity to author legislation especially important to our community and our state. Here are some highlights and some disappointments:
New Laws: My bonding project to relocate and construct the Hennepin County Medical Centerís Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber (HBO) was a high priority and got funded. It provides specialized medical treatment for emergency conditions, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, gas embolism, gas gangrene, and decompression illness. This facility is the stateís only 24 hour emerging HBO chamber and 70% of the patients it serves live outside Hennepin County.
Vetoed: The Governor vetoed each and every one of the communities-of-color provisions in this yearís bonding bill. Among the vetoes was a bill I authored to rehabilitate an old historic mansion in the Stevens Square Neighborhood that would become Minnesotaís first African American History Museum and Cultural Center. Currently Minnesota is one of only six states in the U.S. without a museum dedicated to preserve and present African American history and culture.
Pending: HF3678 would generate $30 million in bonds by dedicating $2.4 million in Challenge Fund appropriations to debt service for the bonds, which could be used for the many available purposes of the Challenge Fund: to make loans for affordable rental housing and vacant or foreclosed residential property; to support neighborhood land trusts that strategically partner with local communities, community development operations, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) and other housing partners. Their shared goal is to provide long-term affordable housing that offers community control and stewardship of the public investment.
HF1633 would restrict Xcel from proceeding with their plans to force high voltage overhead transmission lines through the heart of Phillips Neighborhood on the Midtown Greenway without first being required to go through a formal Certificate of Need -- a well-established process that requires public utility companies to prove the construction of transmission lines over 10 miles in length. This proposal recognizes the disproportionate burden Xcel would impose on a inner city neighborhood with many children, fragile economic development growth and already existing health disparities. No overhead power lines have been built in a city for at least 50 years. The bill passed the House floor and may now join up with its Senate companion in a conference committee.
HF1718 would permit people without a social security number to apply for a state driverís license with a legitimate government identification card from another country. It would help ensure that more drivers are able to seek insurance. The bill passed the House Transportation Policy Committee but was laid over in the House Transportation Finance Committee.
HF3293 would modify state building code requirements related to lead cleanup on residential or child-occupied structures constructed prior to 1978 to be certified in order to perform lead work under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. This bill passed the House and the Senate and is now in conference committee.
Finally, I was able to respond to the newest toxic contamination crisis that emerged in Phillips when the East Phillips Cultural and Community Center informed me that the old housing buried under the park was contaminating the grounds of the Center with lead, asbestos, petroleum from home fuel tanks, etc. We were able to pass legislation that will use state clean-up funds for this purpose.
As always, please feel free to call or write with any ideas or issues. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-0294, by mail at 471 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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