Another busy week of the legislative session is in the books. A fun break in the action came yesterday when I got to meet gold medal-winning cross-country skier and Minnesota resident, Jessie Diggins. You probably remember her amazing race to come from behind and win gold. What a great story and great athlete.
Carbon Monoxide Safety
Yesterday, I joined my longtime friend Tom Schooley in committee to advocate for increased carbon monoxide awareness following the tragic death of his son, Sam. This February, Sam passed away from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning while ice fishing on Leech Lake. Sam was a 2015 graduate of Waconia High School, and I’ve known his family for years. It’s heartbreaking to see someone so young pass away doing what they loved.
My hope is this tragedy can help increase awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Yesterday, I joined Tom and the Department of Natural Resources to look for ways we can promote more awareness online, in the annual DNR booklet, and through online videos. I want to thank Tom and the DNR for recognizing a need to get this message out to all Minnesotans.
Yesterday, I presented my cybersecurity bill to the State Government Finance Committee. My bill requires 3.5% of all IT spending for state agencies using MN.IT to go in a permanent fund to be used to strengthen cybersecurity. As an IT professional, this is something I deal with on a daily basis, and I see a need to have increased funding to keep Minnesotans’ information safe.
Sadly, the new vehicle licensing system, MNLARS, continues to let Minnesotans down. We found out this week that 500,000 calls to MNLARS were lost to busy signals or hangups – and that’s just from between February and March. It’s simply baffling the system and customer service is still so unresponsive.
I’m working very hard to pass legislation that requires MN.IT to seek outside proposals for enterprise software in order to buy software and not build it from scratch. We’ve seen the state continue to stumble and fall when trying to create their own software, so we shouldn’t continue to try and reinvent the wheel. The state should be able to create or find suitable software that works, all while saving taxpayer dollars.
Two of my education-related initiatives made progress this week. Yesterday, I presented my bipartisan bill to increase funding for what’s known as the Youth Skills Training program. This started last year thanks to the work of my colleague Rep. Jason Rarick. The program provides grants to local businesses to help high school students gain skills and experience working in a trade or technical field. In committee, my bill had the support of both sides of the aisle, and I look forward to expanding this program even more.
My related bill, HF1944, to create a VPSEO system so students can gain high school credit while working in a trade was modified slightly. The new language would create a pilot program in Waconia District 110. Many students want to work with their hands and learn an in-demand skill before they graduate, and should be able to gain credits when they do so. By testing the program locally, I think we could see this pilot turn into a statewide initiative. Thank you to District 110 Superintendent Pat Devine and Christine Fenner for joining me to support this legislation in committee.
Please Contact Me
As always, please call or email my office if you need anything. I’m here to serve you, and would love to hear your opinion.
Enjoy your weekend,