Hello from the State Capitol,
It was another busy week here, especially with committee work!
HANDSFREE CELL PHONE BILL
The legislation that would require hands-free cell phone use for drivers passed in the House last week and was approved in the Senate this week. Because the House and Senate bills are not identical, a conference committee comprised of three House members and three senators will meet and attempt to resolve the differences in the proposals that were approved by the legislative bodies. If a compromise can be reached, that agreement would be sent back to both the House and Senate for their final approval, and then finally to the Governor for his signature. Once that occurs, the earliest hands-free legislation would take effect would be August, 2019.
FLOOD RELIEF APPROVED IN HOUSE
On Thursday, the Minnesota House approved legislation that would transfer $10 million into Minnesota’s disaster contingency account. This account is used to help pay for the state’s portion of disaster relief – think clean-up and repairing infrastructure - after the governor calls a state of emergency. The fund currently sits empty following two major flood events last year in Brainerd and Duluth.
$10 million is a nice start, but with all the flooding projections across this state, we should have at least doubled that amount – especially when you consider our $1 billion budget surplus. We had the opportunity to change the amount from $10 million to $43 million over the next two years, but that amendment was unfortunately defeated on a partisan vote. It’s my hope that additional disaster relief funding – and we will need more of it – will not get wrapped up in a future omnibus bill or fall victim to end-of-session negotiations.
MY PARENTS ALWAYS TAUGHT ME THAT STEALING FROM THE COOKIE JAR WAS WRONG!
This week I penned a letter to the editor regarding Governor Walz’s gas tax proposal. If you examine the proposal closely, it raids funds that are already there for road and bridge repairs and replaces them by forcing you to pay significantly more per-gallon at the pump. To learn more, click here.
I really enjoyed chatting with some local people from the Good Samaritan Society in Albert Lea. Head Director Katie Davis, along with nursing directors Janelle Merkoures and Kelly Honstad, came to the Capitol to talk about nursing home and assisted living issues. I really appreciate the dedication and care people like these take in caring for our elders, and I also very much value hearing from local people on how issues and legislation affect them. Thank you for coming!
Have a good weekend,