Despite the cold weather, a number of constituents were able to visit St. Paul this week. We discussed issues ranging from CWD in deer to parental rights with respect to childhood vaccinations. I greatly appreciate those visits and the opportunity to learn firsthand about the issues we face.
Rep. Liz Olson and Rep. Dave Baker are leading a bipartisan effort to address opioid addiction. The focus is on supporting what is working now and developing new ways to effectively deal with this vexing issue. The legislation includes a new manufacturers and wholesale distributor product registration fee for opioids sold in Minnesota.
The fees collected would go directly toward dealing with opioid addiction. I along with my colleagues in St. Paul understand this addiction has already caused far too many tragedies within our communities.
A bill is also moving on the use of cell phones while driving. With the advent of touch screens in the dash boards of most new cars, how we deal with electronic devices now involves more than just cell phones, but also how they interface with on board systems.
Similar cell phone related legislation is also working its way through the Senate. We must keep up with today’s technology, provide law enforcement with the tools to dissuade the use of electronic devices that interfere with safe motor vehicle operation and ensure that penalties are appropriate to the dangers presented by distracted driving.
We are still experiencing hiccups with the temporary new rules imposed by our colleagues across the aisle. Under the new rules it is more difficult to track where a bill is and when it moves from committee to committee. We also have a very important rule that requires not less than 24 hours’ notice before a bill is heard in a committee.
This week that rule was violated when a bill related to opioid addiction was heard without providing at least 24 hours’ notice to the public. For rural Minnesotans faced with a drive of 2-3 hours or even longer to St. Paul, that denies them the opportunity to testify or otherwise participate. We are working with our colleagues to prevent that from happening again.
Shortly, you will be seeing a legislative survey that I am conducting to gather input on major issues we will be dealing with this session. Please watch you email for the link to that survey.