It’s been another busy week at the Capitol and the next few weeks are going to be busier. The town hall meeting I am co-hosting with State legislators Rep. Lyndon Carlson and Sen. Ann H. Rest (DFL – New Hope) that had originally been scheduled for April 7th, has been moved to Tuesday, March 27th, 7:00-8:30 p.m., at the Crystal Community Center (4800 Douglas Drive N, Crystal, MN 55429). There was an unexpected change in the legislative schedule and we decided it was best to move the town hall instead of canceling it. I hope you can make attend. It is always helpful when you share your values. Here are a few things I wanted to you to see:
School Safety and Gun Violence
As with all the recent mass shootings, there’s a point where you reach roadblocks and momentum toward change seems to end. After last week’s disappointment where Republicans stopped common sense gun safety proposals including background checks, it seemed like maybe we were reaching that point. Fortunately, we’ve seen the pressure for action mounting.
On Wednesday, we saw two good signs. Governor Dayton released his Safe and Secure Schools Act and hundreds of students walked out of area high schools to come demand action on gun violence. Today we saw Protect Minnesota join with legislators to again press for legislation to help put a stop to mass shootings—this time to treat assault weapons like handguns, requiring a minimum age to purchase or possess them. We need to keep this type of pressure on as session continues.
(Students calling for action on gun violence.)
Minnesotans deserve safe communities and they expect us to act to keep them from being gunned down while they go about their daily lives. That’s a core function of my job here and I’m committed to ensuring we take meaningful action on that this year.
MNLARS Progress Stopped
Technological upgrades to Minnesota’s Licensing and Registration System, known as MNLARS, have been decades in the making. The initial rollout of a new system last year had serious hiccups. While a lot of progress has been made on fixing MNLARS, there are still issues that need to be fixed.
In January, Governor Dayton told legislators that he needed them to make $10 million in the budget of the Department of Public Safety available so he could continue to keep IT professionals working on those fixes for MNLARS. I worked with my DFL colleagues to get that done, but Republicans refused to act. As a result, layoff notices have been sent to dozens of the people working to fix the problem.
Minnesotans deserve a licensing system that works, and they expect it to be fixed when it doesn’t. As the Star Tribune pointed out, we need to fix this now. By not acting, Republicans are only making the problem worse for Minnesotans.
It may have been overlooked with all the news going on last week, but Governor Dayton renewed his push for the MinnesotaCare Buy-In. This option would greatly expand affordable health insurance options for many Minnesotans. By paying their own way and increasing competition, the MinnesotaCare Buy-In would save all Minnesotans money and allow more people to access good healthcare coverage. This is a great step toward affordable, quality health coverage for Minnesotans who may otherwise not have that option. You can see a video from Rep. Clark Johnson, the legislation’s chief author, below.
(PHOTO LINKS TO: https://youtu.be/_pvlGdBEtwA)
Keeping Our State’s Waters Clean
There are a lot of areas where nitrogen levels in our state’s waters are unsafe for human consumption. In many communities the drinking water can even be deadly, leading to a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, known as blue baby syndrome.
No Minnesotan should ever experience preventable health risks or drink unsafe water. That’s why Governor Dayton is working with farmers to reduce nitrogen pollution in our waters. Despite the fact that 82% of Minnesotans support the Governor working with farmers to reduce pollution through better farming practices, we’re likely to see push back. Together, we can ensure all Minnesotans are safe from pollution.
You can read more from Governor Dayton and the Star Tribune.
Women’s History Month
Governor Dayton proclaimed March to be Women’s History Month in Minnesota. Coincidentally, today is also International Women’s Day. It’s great to see people crowd the Capitol each year pushing for women’s issues, including passing the Equal Rights Amendment, but it’s sad that each year we see continued threats to women’s ability to make choices with their health, including choices that may be lifesaving.
Please don’t hesitate to keep in touch!