I am able to report that we picked up the pace in the House and passed eight bills this week.
On Monday, we passed a bill dealing with opioid addiction. I was honored to be one of the 94 legislators that joined former Aitkin resident Rep. Dave Baker voting “yes,” sending that bill over to the Senate for their consideration. Dave, who represents the Wilmar area, and I where both elected to the Legislature five years ago.
From day one he has taken a strong leadership role on combatting the opioid addiction crisis. Dave’s untiring and always constructive approach has changed the discussion from, “Do we need to deal with this?” to, “How best do to we fix this problem and how soon can we get it done?”
The bill would put $20 million annually toward a broad array of treatment programs, improved regulation and law enforcement support that is needed to deal with this lethal epidemic that continues to kill and cripple Minnesotans. The Senate’s version of this important legislation has some differences. I expect that this matter will end up in a conference committee where the differences will be ironed out.
We took a major step forward on dealing with cell phone use and distracted driving. I was pleased to add my vote in favor of legislation which cleared the House on a 106-21 vote. That bill is now over in the Senate under consideration. It will also likely end up in a conference committee to reconcile the differences in language between the House and Senate versions.
As many may remember, Gov. Waltz closed schools across the state for three days in January due to usually cold weather. Current law does not allow the governor to also waive the loss of funding that would occur to schools in several important areas including early childhood education and special needs kindergarten services. The legislation we passed retroactively corrects issue.
Another of the bills we dealt with this week cleans up an unnecessary administrative road block preventing the state from sharing nonpublic health and demographic information data with tribal governments. This legislation provides tribal health and human service agencies with the level of access to state held data that is necessary to effectively do their job on behalf of their tribal members.
Please be safe as we enjoy this weekend’s wonderful spring weather.