The 2018 session of the Minnesota Legislature began this week on Tuesday, and there are many issues that will need to be addressed before we adjourn in May. Here are updates on just a few of those issues.
Legislative Session Begins with Focus on Bonding
The session started Tuesday, February 20th, and Minnesota’s infrastructure will be a key area of focus for legislators this year. Many public water utilities, buildings at public colleges and universities, bridges and dams, and other public projects are in need of repair. It’s important we pass a robust public infrastructure bill this year so these costs don’t increase in the future. Governor Dayton already submitted his bonding proposal to address many of Minnesota’s infrastructure needs and here is a link to a map showing them.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
The problem of opioid drug abuse continues to cause deaths and tragedy in families throughout Minnesota. There are higher concentrations of opioid-related deaths occurring in our region, and last week, Governor Dayton and a bipartisan group of legislators announced a comprehensive plan addressing this issue. The approach is multifaceted, with strategies involving local communities (including tribal governments), health care professionals, and law enforcement. Increased investments in prevention, treatment, and recovery are all areas where we should take bold bipartisan action this year.
Eliminating Senior Care Abuse
You may have seen media reports on seniors becoming the victims of abuse, neglect, theft, sexual assault, and other unthinkable acts in our state’s care facilities. We need to get all the facts on why this abuse was slow to be addressed, and we need to take action this session to make sure it never happens again. In response to state investigators not acting swiftly to address the issue, Governor Dayton directed AARP Minnesota to convene an Elder Abuse Consumer Workgroup to craft recommendations, which they recently released.
State Employee Contracts
One important item that the legislature needs to act on immediately is the approval of the state employee contracts that were negotiated in good faith on behalf of the over 30,000 workers employed by the state of Minnesota. Legislators shouldn’t be approving our own budget if we can’t provide a modest hard-earned increase for these hard working state employees. You might recall back in October when these contracts were rejected by the Legislative Subcommittee on Employee Relations, which has oversight of the contract approval process. I will be pushing for us to approve these contracts as early as possible in the session so that our state workers are treated fairly and their work is respected with dignity.
This Winter Olympics we sent 20 Minnesotans to South Korea to compete. That’s more than any of the surrounding states and third highest in the country. Last week Governor Dayton proclaimed Winter Olympians Day to show our support for those Minnesotans representing the USA. It has been a thrill to watch the skiers, curlers and other Olympians from Northern Minnesota as they compete and win!
Celebrating Improved Arena in Moose Lake!
I recently joined city officials and hockey enthusiasts from the City of Moose Lake to celebrate the use of state grant funds to improve the arena safety and ice. I strongly supported the grant application and improvements. In partnership with the Moose Lake Area Hockey Association, they received a matching grant from the James Metzen Mighty Ducks Foundation for three major projects in the arena totaling $250,000, of which $125,000 came from the grant. A new electric ice resurfacer from Olympia, a new dehumidification system, and an air exchanger for locker rooms were all installed.
The Department of Commerce has some helpful tips for keeping your home safe from this colorless and odorless gas. Those tips include things like making sure your CO detectors are tested and you replace batteries yearly, making sure snow and ice aren’t blocking exterior exhaust vents, and that you use space heaters safely, as well as other great tips.
Keep in Touch!
Feel free to respond to this email to let me know what you’d like to see done this session. As your voice at the Capitol, my top priority is to make sure that the people in our region have a chance to succeed. That means everyone has access to a quality education, a job that rewards hard work with fair pay, and a secure retirement.