From my family to yours, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a safe, enjoyable holiday season. This time of year gives us a great opportunity to look back on the year that’s about to conclude, and look ahead at our goals, hopes, and aspirations for 2020. As we prepare to give gifts to family and friends, there are many organizations deserving of our help as well, which serve those among us who may be struggling. I’d encourage you to find a charitable cause or two and make a contribution; it’s a great way to feel even more joyous this season.
Wednesday, I attended a public hearing of the Minnesota House Transportation Committee at UMD. Many residents and regional leaders were on hand as committee members learned about northern Minnesota’s many road and bridge priorities, and had a robust discussion about the Northern Lights Express, a proposed passenger railway between the Twin Cities and the Twin Ports with stops in Coon Rapids, Cambridge, and Hinckley. This corridor, over existing BNSF track, would be a huge benefit for those who travel between the Twin Cities and Duluth for business, would give another travel option to tourists, and would benefit the cities along the line with new job growth. I’ll be working alongside my northeastern Minnesota legislative colleagues to deliver investments in the project this legislative session.
Several notable new laws take effect on January 1 based on legislation passed during the 2019 session. Trading of teeth, tusks, and horns from species like elephants, hippopotamuses, or rhinoceroses will be prohibited. Middlemen known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) – who have played a significant role in the rapid increase in prescription drug prices – will now be subject to licensure. Finally, as part of our groundbreaking opioid stewardship law, medical professionals will be required to take classes to learn about best practices in prescribing pain medications.
You can read more about these measures from House Public Information Services here.
Last week, we heard the most recent economic forecast from Minnesota Management and Budget. It highlighted a positive budget balance, a fully-funded state budget reserve, and continued low unemployment. Looking ahead, there are some challenges though including slower economic growth and global trade uncertainty. Therefore, it’s critically important for us to proceed cautiously so we can continue to deliver on what we all value, like great schools, affordable health care, and quality transportation infrastructure.
Earlier this year, lawmakers took a huge step forward to protect workers by enacting the toughest wage theft law in the nation. However, our work is unfinished as we seek to ensure economic security for all families.
I proudly voted for legislation during the 2019 session to ensure all Minnesotans can access Paid Family and Medical Leave. No one should have to choose between earning a paycheck and taking care of a sick family member or bonding with a newborn, but this remains an unfortunate reality for too many people. I’m disappointed that the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate sided with big business lobbyists over working families on this issue.
The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee this basic benefit for workers. Americans overwhelmingly support Paid Family Leave, which you can read about in a recent in-depth story from USA Today.
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This holiday season, I carry deep gratitude for the opportunity to work for you in Saint Paul. Please continue to reach out with your input and feedback on the issues that matter to you, or if I can ever be of assistance. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (651) 296-4308.