Some news of note to report from the Capitol this week, including a website that's expected to tell all Minnesotans when they can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Democrats fail to support their own public safety bill, economic forecast coming soon, addressing emergency powers, brining kids safely back to school
HOUSE MAJORITY FAILS TO APPROVE PUBLIC SAFETY FUNDING MEASURE
Twice this week, the House majority brought a public safety bill to the House floor that would have allocated $35 million to a new fund to deal with state emergencies, and failed to pass it. On Thursday it received a floor vote and was opposed on a bipartisan basis. At best, law enforcement was neutral on the bill because of some of the provisions it contained. Moving forward, I'm hopeful House Democrats will now work with Republicans on this legislation, rather than pushing another bill forward that members of their own caucus refuse to support.
FEBRUARY FORECAST RELEASED NEXT FRIDAY
On February 26, our state's economic experts are scheduled to provide Minnesota with a revised economic forecast projection. This is important as this will be the figure lawmakers utilize when setting the state's budget for the upcoming budget cycle.
REFORMING EMERGENCY POWERS PROCESS
After receiving considerable pressure from House Republicans, the House majority held its first hearing on recrafting Chapter 12 in Minnesota statute, which deals with emergency powers for the governor. This law is currently allowing our governor to unilaterally make decisions for the State of Minnesota as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the Legislature has been in session for a month and a half.
BACK TO SCHOOL?
On Wednesday, Governor Walz unveiled his plan aimed at getting more middle and high school students back in the classroom with a target of all schools offering some form of in-person learning by March 8. The plan is not a major shift from current practice, and does nothing to incentivize local districts to reopen if they are currently in distance or hybrid learning. We need to safely reopen our schools as quickly as possible, as the science and data show that we can do so safely.
New website expected to tell you when its your turn for a vaccine
The Minnesota Department of Health has created an online 'Vaccine Connector' that can provide information about when, where, and how you can get the vaccine - and will also tell you when it's your turn to receive your shot. It is designed for those who are currently ineligible to receive their vaccinations. Click here for more information.
Those eligible to get vaccinated right now - people over the age of 65, health care workers, and teachers - do not have to wait for information from the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector before receiving their shot, as their health care provider or employer will notify them.
UPDATES FROM THE HOUSE
Legalized marijuana and prescription drug price commission bills debated
LEGALIZED MARIJUANA AND DRUG PRICE COMMISSION BILLS HEARD IN COMMERCE COMMITTEE
A very controversial 224-page bill that would legalize marijuana was heard in the commerce committee this week. As the Republican lead on this committee, I offered an amendment that was ultimately accepted that would prohibit the sale, growing, and distribution of marijuana near schools, nursing homes, and childcare facilities. While its still a bad bill, at least this provision is in place if the legislation moves forward.
Another questionable bill would appoint a volunteer commission to determine what drug prices might be on certain medications sold in Minnesota. Recognizing people do need affordable medications, this proposal would have serious implications on the availability of certain prescriptions in Minnesota and I don't believe it is something we should be doing. Further engaging drug manufacturers will yield better price results, mandating that a board artificially determine prescription prices will not.
KEEP IN TOUCH
As always I'm continuing to support constituent needs. Feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-7808.