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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL)

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Legislative Update - April 7, 2017

Friday, April 7, 2017
Dear Neighbors,
 
We have been extremely busy over the past two weeks here in St. Paul! We have spent many hours each day on the House floor debating all of the committee omnibus bills.
 
Fighting to Protect our Environment
 
Last week we heard the Omnibus Environment bill. In addition to underfunding the Department of Natural Resources and other agencies, this bill included lots of policy initiatives that would roll back protections for our water and air. I voted against this bill because it is short-sighted and does not represent the priorities of most Minnesotans.
 
I carried an amendment to undo a provision that would prohibit the DNR from banning neurotoxins (lead shot) from entering our environment. You can see the video of that amendment here. Lead Shot I also spoke about how many provisions in the bill were not heard and debated during the normal committee process. I believe the integrity of the process matters and I was disappointed that the public did not have the opportunity to truly weigh in on all these issues. Here is a link: Magical Provisions.
 
Omnibus Public Safety Bill
 
On Monday, we debated the Omnibus Public Safety bill. I served on this committee and was excited that one of my bills regarding domestic violence programming was included.
 
However, I was deeply troubled by the inclusion of language that would increase penalties for protesters instead of focusing on the underlying reasons different communities protest in the first place. I authored an amendment to remove that provision. Although my amendment did not succeed, there was a powerful three-hour long debate regarding its merits. You can watch me present the amendment here, on YouTube.
 
The Star Tribune recently wrote an article and said the following:
 
DFL lawmakers cast the bill as a way to upend political speech under the guise of public safety and in lieu of addressing larger racial and economic disparities in Minnesota. Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL-Roseville, moved unsuccessfully to strike the protest provision. “The message you are sending to the people of Minnesota is that it is more important for you to be free than it is for others,” said Becker-Finn, referencing protests led by Martin Luther King Jr. “That is privilege, and that is injustice.”
 
You can see my final speech regarding the amendment here on YouTube
 
Omnibus Jobs and Energy Bill
 
Last night we heard the Omnibus Jobs and Energy bill. A Republican representative submitted an amendment to allow Enbridge to completely circumvent the environmental review process that’s currently taking place for the proposed pipeline in northern Minnesota. Minnesota Public Radio had an excellent article in which they quote me as saying:
 
“The way you are doing this is not honorable. It is cowardly,” Becker-Finn said. “This language, this free ticket to an oil company was not introduced as its own bill. We haven’t had hearings. We haven’t had discussion. This is the first time we’re debating it.”
 
You can watch my speech on this deeply personal issue on YouTube.
 
Advocacy Fair
 
In the last few months, I've heard from many constituents asking how they can get involved to work for policy change. In response, several of my colleagues have put together an Advocacy Fair, to connect community members with advocacy organizations that could use their help. The Fair, which will be held on Saturday, April 8, 1:00pm to 5:00pm, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (700 Snelling Ave. S.) in St. Paul, will feature nearly 20 advocacy organizations.
 
Constituent Visits
 
Even though we’ve been busy with all day floor sessions, I’ve made sure to make time for constituents who’ve set up visits. This past week I had a group of students visit from White Bear and a meeting with local nurses.
 
House Image
House Image
 
It is an honor to be your voice on the issues that matter to you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me about any issues or concerns you may have.
 
Sincerely,
 
Jamie
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