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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL)

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Legislative Update - July 19, 2019

Friday, July 19, 2019

Dear neighbors,

I hope that you’re having a great summer. The state budget and several laws that we passed this session went into effect on Monday, July 1. I wanted to share some information about the new budget and legislation. 

Standing Up for Students

The E-12 education section is one of the highlights of the new budget. My colleagues and I successfully fought for strong investments in our schools and children of all ages. We secured an annual two percent increase in per-student funding for all Minnesota public schools and preserved access to voluntary pre-K for thousands of young learners. We increased funding for special education as well. State and federal funding hasn’t kept up with the rising cost of providing special education services; many districts, including those in our area, have been forced to use funds intended for other purposes to fill funding gaps.

Over the next two years, the total increase in funding will be $7,533,842 for the Burnsville – Eagan – Savage school district (ISD 191), $15,599,306 for the Rosemount – Apple Valley – Eagan district (ISD 196), and $3,186,472 for the West St. Paul – Mendota Heights – Eagan district (ISD 197).

Preserving Access to Health Care

As a member of the Health and Human Services Conference Committee, I worked hard to ensure that Minnesotans have access to high-quality, affordable health care. We prevented cuts and preserved health care for 1.2 million Minnesotans, including working families, senior citizens, children, and people with disabilities. We addressed the soaring cost of prescription medications by improving transparency and getting tough on middle men who drive up prices. There’s more work to do to in this area, but these accomplishments were a step in the right direction.

My bill to add e-cigarettes to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act passed as part of the health and human services budget. This legislation prohibits smoking in public places, places of employment, on public transportation, and at public hearings. It now protects Minnesotans from the hazards of e-cigarette vapors as well as secondhand smoke.

I also worked hard to pass the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act, but the bill was rejected by Senate Republicans in the final minutes of negotiation. I am working in the interim to get bipartisan support for a bill to provide emergency access to needed insulin and save lives.

Delivering Targeted Tax Cuts

The bipartisan tax plan puts more money in the pockets of Minnesotans. We cut taxes for middle-class families by reducing the income tax rate for the first time in almost two decades and doubling the standard deduction. These changes will make the filing process easier for most Minnesotans. We finally reduced taxes on Social Security for seniors and delivered tax cuts for working families and small businesses. We provided more aid to communities across the state as well. Counties and local governments will use these funds to provide important services like road maintenance and public safety while holding down local property taxes.

Protecting Minnesota’s Elections

The state government and elections budget protects our elections and data from hackers, foreign governments, and other bad actors who seek to undermine our democracy. After months of delay, Senate Republicans agreed to release $6.5 million in federal funding to ensure that our statewide voter registration system is strong and secure. We provided additional funding to improve our state’s cybersecurity. One of my bills that was included in the budget protects voter privacy. It allows Minnesotans to vote without their bosses, their neighbors, and complete strangers knowing their political preferences.

We secured funding for census mobilization as well. This will help our state prepare for the 2020 census and ensure that all of Minnesota’s residents are counted. A strong, accurate count is vital for maintaining our eighth congressional seat and keeping federal funding that’s used for health care, school lunches, and other important services.

Other New Laws

Additional laws that took effect earlier this month include:

  • A bill that helps communities address the opioid epidemic. It holds pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in creating the public health crisis and profiting from it. Drug manufacturers and distributors will pay higher registration fees, and the revenue will be used for prevention, treatment, and public safety.
  • The strongest wage theft prevention and enforcement law in the country. This legislation will help ensure that Minnesotans receive an hour’s pay for an hour’s work.
  • Legislation that repeals the marital rape exception, a law that shielded perpetrators from prosecution for criminal sexual assault if they were married to their victim.
  • Funding for job training opportunities that help Minnesotans develop new skills or start a business. Additional funding will help workers with disabilities find employment.

You can read more about each of the new laws here. More legislation that the Legislature passed this session will take effect on Thursday, August 1. 

Hands-Free Law Takes Effect August 1

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, distracted driving is a factor in one in five accidents on Minnesota roads. It causes an average of 53 deaths and 216 serious injuries each year. The hands-free law, which will take effect on August 1, reminds drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

The law prohibits holding a cell phone while driving. Drivers can still make calls, text, listen to music, or get directions by using voice commands or single-touch activation. Hands-free laws have reduced crashes and fatalities in other states. Helpful tips for going hands-free and more information about the new law are available here.

Eagan Market Fest

Eagan’s Market Fest is frequently rated the best farmers market around. Community members can enjoy food, live music, and children’s activities while shopping for fresh produce.

When: Wednesdays from 4 – 8pm (through August 28)
Where: Eagan Central Park, 1501 Central Parkway, Eagan, MN 55121

Stay in Touch

Thank you for the privilege of serving our community in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Please continue to share your input and questions. You can contact me at rep.laurie.halverson@house.mn or 651-296-6754.

Sincerely,

Laurie Halverson
State Representative

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