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

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Legislative Update - May 7, 2021

Friday, May 7, 2021

Dear neighbors, 

Yesterday, Governor Walz announced a timeline to end most of Minnesota’s COVID-19 restrictions. The first changes took effect today at noon. The third and final step – lifting the statewide mask requirement – will take effect once 70 percent of Minnesotans who are 16 or older get vaccinated or on July 1, whichever comes first.  

RESTRICTIONS

Every Minnesotan who gets vaccinated helps bring us closer to the end of the pandemic. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, please make a plan to do so. The COVID-19 Vaccine Connector is a great resource for finding vaccination opportunities in your area. 


Developing a Strong and Equitable State Budget  

With the end of the legislative session rapidly approaching, my colleagues are working hard to develop a strong and equitable budget for the next two years. In the House, we recently finished passing our budget bills – comprehensive plans for each area of the budget that contain many of the individual bills we worked on this year. These bills reflect our vision for the future and the feedback we’ve heard from Minnesotans.  

All Budget Bills

Legislators from the House and Senate are meeting in “conference committees” to compare their budget proposals and gather input from Minnesotans. The goal is to work together and craft a strong bill that can be sent back to each chamber for a final vote. I am honored to be a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Conference Committee. While we have a divided state legislature, I believe we can find a compromise that protects our water, air, lands, and wildlife for current and future generations of Minnesotans.  

The $2.6 billion Minnesota is expected to receive thanks to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that Congress and President Biden approved in March is on our minds as well. We are currently awaiting federal guidance on how these funds can and cannot be used. If we receive this information before the legislative session adjourns on May 17, it could be incorporated into the state budget. If not, Governor Walz has the authority to allocate the funds. I will keep you updated as we receive more information, but our goal is to ensure that the ARP funds help Minnesotans – especially students, workers, and small businesses – recover from the pandemic and thrive once it’s behind us.  


Protecting Our Environment and Natural Resources 

Our Environment and Natural Resources budget is a robust plan to protect Minnesota’s water, air, lands, and wildlife for many years to come. There’s a lot to be excited about in this bill, but some of the highlights are measures that: 

  • Address significant threats to our environment, including climate change, pollution, and invasive species  
  • Preserve and enhance the quality of Minnesota’s air and water  
  • Expand access to the outdoors and outdoor recreation, with a focus on children and young adults who don’t have these opportunities  
  • Protect animals and insects that are critical to our ecosystems and food supply  
  • Address racial and economic disparities that put communities of color, Indigenous communities, and low-income communities at higher risk for exposure to pollution and hazardous chemicals 

Environment

The bill invests more than $131 million from Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund in dozens of critical projects across the state. The projects were recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), a bipartisan group that devotes a great deal of time and effort to evaluating these proposals. In the Environment and Natural Resources Conference Committee, we’ve heard details about these projects and how they will benefit Minnesotans. I get asked about these projects frequently, and I’ve found that the LCCMR’s webpage is a great place to learn more.  

The budget also contains several provisions that my colleagues and I worked on with community members following the issues at Water Gremlin. These measures would help protect Minnesotans from dangerous chemicals by:  

  • Strengthening the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)’s ability to ensure facilities comply with permits and stipulation agreements  
  • Allowing the MPCA to shut down facilities, revoke permits, and take corrective action if a facility is repeatedly noncompliant or falsifies records  
  • Giving Minnesotans who work in or live near facilities have a voice in the permitting process 
  • Ensuring community members who were exposed to pollution or hazardous chemicals have opportunities to be involved in the settlement process 

Improving Public Safety for All Minnesotans 

I am glad Derek Chauvin will be held accountable for the murder of George Floyd, but this will not take away the unimaginable pain and grief that Mr. Floyd’s family, friends, and community have been forced to bear. It also won’t end the racism in our country. We must ensure Black people are safe and able to thrive in Minnesota.  

Public Safety

The Public Safety, Criminal Justice Reform, Judiciary, and Civil Law budget we approved in the House would help keep all Minnesotans safe, no matter where they live or what they look like. This bill invests in public safety, with significant funding for important tools like body cameras and reform-focused training for local police departments. It also builds on the Minnesota Police Accountability Act, legislation we passed after George Floyd was killed last summer. I will continue supporting bills that my colleagues in the United Black Legislative Caucus and the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus put together to address underlying problems with public safety and the justice system, including those that would:  

  • Support community organizations working to prevent crime  
  • Prohibit altering, destroying, or withholding body camera footage  
  • Allow local governments to establish civilian oversight councils  
  • Strengthen the police officer misconduct database and build a more effective early warning system to identify bad officers and keep them off the streets  
  • Limit police officers’ authority to stop or detain drivers for certain violations  

Stay Connected 

If you’d like to stay informed as we work to deliver a budget that works for Minnesotans, please like my Facebook page for frequent updates. Feel free to share this email with family, friends, and neighbors who might be interested as well; if they’d like to subscribe, they can do so at https://bit.ly/FischerUpdates.  

Please continue sharing your questions, ideas, and feedback and let me know if I can be of assistance. You can reach me at rep.peter.fischer@house.mn or 651-296-5363.   

Sincerely,  

Peter Fischer  
State Representative  

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