Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Before the weekend gets going, here’s a quick update with the latest from the legislature.
Landfill Funding Secured
On Tuesday, the governor signed into law legislation providing the necessary funding to begin the permanent cleanup of the WDE landfill in Andover in 2019. This is great news for our community and I’m thrilled we finally secured the full funding.
The toxic waste and hazardous contaminants at this site have posed a looming threat to the health and safety of our community for too long. I’m pleased the legislature finally approved these important dollars, which will help safeguard Anoka County’s water quality by allowing for the permanent cleanup of this site to begin this year.
I’m glad the legislature ultimately did the right thing in order to help protect a community facing a very serious risk. However, this came unnecessarily close to the deadline due to political gamesmanship and the project being used as a bargaining chip. I’m hopeful in the future we can all focus on doing the right thing and can put politics aside on issues like this.
Gun Control Bills
This week two controversial gun bills received their second hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
House File 8 (universal background checks) would impose several new requirements and restrictions on the transfer of various firearms between private parties. This bill would create strict new hurdles and barriers for law-abiding Minnesotans seeking to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and would do little to stop the criminals who already don’t follow the law. It would also create new burdens for what used to be very routine transfers between friends for hunting purposes, etc., and could inadvertently turn people into criminals if they don't follow the exact processes laid out in this bill.
During the committee hearing, we heard particularly compelling testimony from a young trapshooter on the Blaine High School team who laid out how this law would unnecessarily interfere with his sport.
House File 9 (red flag law) would create a process in which family or household members, a law enforcement officer, a city or county attorney, or a guardian could petition for an “extreme risk protection order”, which would prohibit someone from possessing firearms. This bill would violate due process by never allowing the gun owner the opportunity to defend his or herself in court. In addition, this bill would put our law enforcement in harm's way by expecting them to seize guns from gun owners who are likely unaware they have had a gun seizure order levied against them.
I have serious concerns with the constitutionality of each of these bills and I don’t believe either would do anything to address the core issues causing people to commit violent acts with firearms. Instead, they infringe on our second amendment rights, place undue burdens on law-abiding gun owners, and strip people of their right to due process.
On the topic of guns, I’m in the process of drafting legislation to tighten up laws for people who illegally provide firearms to felons. The penalty is currently a gross misdemeanor, and we recently learned that prosecutors are not charging these people. My bill would make it a felony. I’m also authoring a bill that would require the courts to follow through on domestic violence protection orders. The legislature passed a law in 2014 mandating firearms be transferred to a third party when individuals, after a full hearing, had protection orders issued against them. According to a KSTP news report, this law hasn’t been followed up on in a shocking 96% of cases. By strengthening and enforcing the laws we already have, I believe these laws would have a significant impact on keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. I’ll be sure to fill you in on any developments with this legislation this year.
This evening I will be attending an event put on by Stepping Stone Emergency Housing that will highlight the experiences of homelessness as well as raise money for their cause. Stepping Stone does commendable work in our communities and continues to make a positive impact helping transition people back to work and independence.
Also, the 21st Annual North Suburban Home Improvement Show will take place tomorrow, March 9 at the Andover YMCA Community Center. The event runs from 8am-2pm and brings together the area’s leading builders, contractors, home improvement vendors and landscapers. Complete information about tomorrow’s event can be found here: http://northsuburbanhomeshow.org/index.htm.
Please Contact Me
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns by phone at 651-296-4231 or by email at email@example.com.
Have a great weekend,