Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The MN House and Senate were back in full swing this week after being out of session the week prior in recognition of Easter and Passover. Beginning next week there are only approximately five weeks remaining in this year’s legislative session as Republicans continue our strong commitment to Minnesota families by working hard to bring tax relief, improvements to roads and bridges, and other priorities.
Rep. Lucero meeting with members of the I-94 Corridor Coalition including Saint Michael Mayor Kevin Kasel, Dayton Mayor Tim McNeil, and others at the Capitol this week to discuss roads and bridges priorities.
PRIORITIZING ROADS AND BRIDGES
It was announced this week the Republican-controlled House will pass a transportation bill focusing $101 million on roads and bridges priorities. A strong transportation plan prioritizing spending on roads and bridges over light rail commuter trains is the most effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars. As a member of the House Transportation Finance Committee, I look forward to the work of assembling a strong transportation package over the next several weeks now that the $101 million figure has been announced.
On a related note, it is expected United States Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao will decide in the next several days whether or not to provide federal funds for the wasteful Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) project. Upon learning this information, I was among the multiple dozens of MN legislators who this week sent a letter to Secretary Chao expressing strong opposition to wasteful SWLRT and urging Secretary Chao to deny awarding the $1 billion federal money to the project. Additionally, this mounted effort of local opposition is being coordinated in conjunction with US Congressman Jason Lewis' office to get the letters into the hands of Secretary Chao and her staff ASAP!
Rep. Lucero testifying on his bill HF 3425 this week at a hearing in front of the House Public Safety Committee.
REWRITING REALITY via DIGITAL MISREPRESENTATION
A picture is worth a thousand words, correct? Well, that’s about the change with new developments in the digital space allowing for the rewriting of reality. Capabilities are being created not simply to alter digital pictures, videos, and audio recordings but to completely manufacture and present events via digital picture, video, and audio recording that never actually occurred.
Last year, a team of Berkeley researchers released two videos. The original video showed a horse walking behind a chain link fence and the second video showed the horse having been transformed with a black-and-white zebra pattern walking behind the same chain link fence. Capabilities of the now dubbed “zebrafication tool” continue to advance via machine learning algorithms allowing for the rewriting of reality. Additional manipulation examples include turning black bears into pandas, apples into oranges, and cats into dogs.
Other companies are beginning to use machine learning algorithms to synthesize completely manufactured audio out of thin air using one-minute audio samples of a person’s voice and in a very concerning example digitally alter pornography videos to feature celebrities and other public officials without their knowledge or consent. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms are producing artificial scenes and sounds of the physical world that are pushing our society to new realms. The AI-generated content will be able to deceive in our new age of fake news. As digital manipulation technology continues to develop it will become difficult to impossible to detect fraud even with the use of digital forensic analysis. We may soon no longer be able to trust our eyes and ears once the capabilities become readily accessible to the general population via an APP on a smartphone.
This week in the Public Safety Committee I had a bill hearing on my bill HF 3425 in my attempt to draw awareness to the digital misrepresentation threat and to proactively get in front of this issue.
Rep. Lucero visiting with hardworking Wright County farmers Dan, Norman, Vance, and Kevin this week as they made their rounds around the Capitol with the MN Farm Bureau.
WRIGHT COUNTY FARMERS
Hardworking MN farmers are essential to Minnesota. It’s for this reason visiting with farmers is always an honor. Among the priorities of Wright County farmers includes reducing burdensome government over-regulation, stopping the attempted overreach by the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) in their attempt to impose crushing new fines on farmers, putting an end to the squandering of dollars State Auditor Rebecca Otto is causing Wright County taxpayers due to her frivolous lawsuit against Wright County, and continuing to stand strong in support of law-abiding citizens' Second Amendment rights.
Rep. Lucero joined by Xcel Energy employees / Otsego and Saint Michael constituents Darrin, Kelsa, Joshua, Ranae, and Chuck.
HIGH PAYING JOBS & LOWER ENERGY COSTS
Xcel Energy owns and operates both the nuclear power plant in Monticello and the Sherco coal-fired power plant in Becker (as well as a natural gas-fired power plant that will be constructed in the near future at the same site as the current coal-fired plant in Becker).
Xcel Energy's power plants (including Xcel's Prairie Island nuclear power plant) combined generate a SIGNIFICANT portion of Minnesota's electricity needs and create thousands of skilled, well-paying jobs at the same time. Burdensome government regulation, mandates, and uncertainty result in higher capital and operating costs for Xcel. Increased costs to generate electricity are only passed onto hardworking MN families and businesses in the form of higher electric bills.
I'm among those continuing to work hard in support of passing government policies to return stability to the industry in order to reduce energy costs.
Rep. Lucero meeting with Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Superintendent Scott Thielman, STMA Superintendent Ann-Marie Foucault, and several parents at the Capitol this week to discuss education funding and school safety.
STAYING IN TOUCH
As always please contact me to share any issues, concerns, or feedback you may have that will assist me best represent you. The best way to reach me is by email at Rep.Eric.Lucero@House.MN or by phone at 651-296-1534.
Albertville, Hanover, Otsego, Saint Michael, and the Wright County portion of Dayton