With session over, it's been a real joy to get out and around our district to see you all for various community events and meetings. I love being able chat with local residents, and the various community celebrations that have been taking place recently are especially fun to attend. I'll highlight some of those visits below, as well as some new laws that are getting ready to go into effect in July.
NEW STATE LAWS GO INTO EFFECT
On July 1, a number of new laws will take effect in the State of Minnesota. They include new funding for various areas of state government – think transportation, environment, K-12 Education, etc. - for the upcoming budget cycle. Here are a few highlights:
Addressing the Opioid Addiction Epidemic
Another new law of note: the state’s initial response to the opioid epidemic. According to a House Public Information Services review, this includes the establishment of an opioid advisory council to establish goals and make funding recommendations; funding for county social service and tribal social service agencies to provide child protection services to families affected by addiction; and increased funding for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for additional drug scientists, lab supplies and special agents focused on drug interdiction and trafficking.
To fund these initiatives, registration fees of $250,000 a year will be assessed on any opiate manufacturer that annually sells, delivers or distributes 2 million or more units within or into the state.
Registration fees will sunset and the $55,000 renewal fees shall be reduced once the state recovers at least $250 million from settlements with pharmaceutical companies after a minimum of five years.
Wage Theft Made a Crime – makes wage theft a felony and punishes employers who retaliate against employees reporting such theft to the department. Wage theft is defined as, among other things, when an employer “fails to pay an employee all wages, salary, gratuities, earnings, or commissions at the employee's rate or rates of pay or at the rate or rates required by law.”
“Marital rape exception” repealed - repeals statutory language that currently does not allow prosecution of criminal sexual conduct if the adults are cohabiting in an ongoing voluntary sexual relationship at the time of the alleged offence or if married.
Voter privacy/security provisions – prohibits publicly available information on voter registration to include the party of choice of a voter who voted in a presidential primary. Also, effective June 1, the state is authorized to accept nearly $6.6 million in Federal Help America Vote Act funds to assist in beefing up the state’s election security efforts.
Additional E-12 Education Funding – increases the basic funding formula by 2% each year; appropriates funds to maintain 4, 000 voluntary prekindergarten seats that were set to expire; additional $90.7 million in special education aid to schools to help address the growing gap between school districts’ special education costs and the state and federal funding they receive.
To read more about our new laws that take effect July 1, click here.
ATTENTION TEACHERS! MINNESOTA TEACHER LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAM
A few years ago I carried the Minnesota Teacher Loan Forgiveness program bill and this year we’ve once again funded the program.
If you are a teacher or know someone who is, program applications are now being accepted until July 15! Loan repayment awards are up to $1,000 per year up to five years for eligible applicants.
To learn more about the grant and eligibility, click here.
We had a great turnout for the Relay for Life in downtown Albert Lea despite the cooler temperatures! It was good seeing so many residents joining the festivities and doing their part to help end cancer.
I also had a great time at Kiester Days topped off with a tasty dinner at the Kiester American Legion. Thank you to these top notch grill masters for cooking up some mouthwatering steaks!
Have a good weekend,