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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL)

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Legislative Update - July 9, 2019

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Dear neighbors,

I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July with family and friends! I wanted to share some information about the two-year state budget and other legislation that we passed this session. The budget and several new laws went into effect on Monday, July 1.

Standing Up for Students

The E-12 education section is one of the highlights of the budget. My colleagues and I successfully fought for strong investments in Minnesota students. We secured an annual two percent increase in per-student funding for all public schools and prevented cuts that would’ve led to teacher and staff layoffs, larger class sizes, and higher property taxes.

We increased funding for special education services to help schools meet the needs of all students while keeping up with rapidly escalating costs. We also preserved access to voluntary pre-kindergarten for 4,000 of Minnesota’s youngest learners.

The E-12 education budget will help schools in our area and across the state support students inside and outside the classroom. Over the next two years, the total increase in funding will be $3,439,478 for Mahtomedi Public Schools, $8,191,608 for North St. Paul – Maplewood – Oakdale Schools, $5,432,440 for Roseville Area Schools, and $8,958,307 for White Bear Lake Area Schools.

Preserving Health Care Access

All Minnesotans deserve access to affordable, high-quality health care. This session, we protected access to health care for 1.2 million Minnesotans by securing permanent funding for the Health Care Access Fund. We fought to preserve coverage for dental and vision services and financial assistance that helps the families of 30,000 children pay for child care.

Delivering Targeted Tax Cuts

The tax plan includes the first income tax cut in almost two decades and doubles the standard deduction. These changes will cut taxes for low- and middle-income earners and make the filing process simpler for most Minnesotans. We put more money in the pockets of Minnesotans by expanding tax credits for working families and small businesses and reducing taxes on Social Security benefits. We also provided more aid to communities throughout Minnesota. Counties and local governments will use this funding to provide important services while holding down local property taxes.

Protecting Our Environment

As a member of the conference committee that worked on the environment and natural resources budget, I worked hard to ensure that all Minnesotans can drink clean water, breathe clean air, and enjoy our outdoors and natural resources. The environment and natural resources budget addresses long-term threats to our state’s environment – including aquatic invasive species and emerald ash borer – and protects Minnesota’s abundant natural resources.  It restores air, water, and soil quality and protects pollinators, native species, and other wildlife.

We protected the health and wellbeing of Minnesotans and provided more opportunities for folks to enjoy the outdoors. We funded lead and asthma screenings and research on contaminants that may increase health risks. We also established the No Child Left Inside program, which offers outdoor environmental activities for youth, and improved access to public lands and outdoor recreation for people with disabilities.

Unfortunately, the TCE ban that I co-authored wasn’t included in the budget. This bipartisan bill passed the House with a 120 – 7 vote, but Senate Republicans refused to move forward with the legislation because the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce was against it. MinnPost published an article about why the TCE ban didn’t pass. It’s available here. I believe in protecting the health of Minnesotans rather than the profits of big businesses, so I’ll keep fighting to get TCE out of our communities.

Other New Laws

Some of the other new laws that took effect earlier last week include:

  • The strongest wage theft prevention and enforcement law in the country. This will ensure that Minnesotans receive an hour’s pay for an hour’s work.
  • A bill that holds pharmaceutical companies accountable for their part in creating the opioid epidemic. Drug manufacturers and distributors who continue to profit from this crisis will pay higher fees, and the revenue will be used for prevention, treatment, and public safety.
  • Legislation repealing the marital rape exception. This law shielded rapists from prosecution if they were married to their victim.
  • A bill that funds the outdoors and the arts across Minnesota. This plan improves parks, trails, and public lands; restores water quality; preserves our state’s history and cultural heritage; and expands arts access and education.

More information on the budget and each of the new laws is available here. If you’d like to read more about the budget, you can find the text of each budget bill and other resources here. Videos of public hearings that House committees held for each section of the budget are available here.

Stay in Touch

There’s more work to be done to make Minnesota an even better place to live, work, and raise a family. I look forward to talking with you in the coming months about how we can keep our state moving forward. Please feel free to call or email me anytime or stop by the DFL booth at Marketfest to say hello.

Sincerely,

Peter Fischer
State Representative

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