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

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Legislative Update - April 4, 2019

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

I have been so busy that it has been hard to find time to write updates! Thank you for your patience and for caring about the work we do at the Capitol.

We’ve been debating and passing more bills off the House floor. The following are summaries of some of those bills. I was proud to speak in favor of several of them.

Protecting Minnesotans from Sexual Harassment

More than 80 percent of women report being sexually harassed in the workplace. Courts currently use a high “severe or pervasive” threshold that makes it difficult for those who have experienced harassment to pursue justice. The House passed legislation to change that unreasonable standard (HF 10). All Minnesotans deserve to live and work in an environment free from sexual harassment, and this is an important step towards that goal.

Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic took the lives of 442 Minnesotans in 2017. Many people have lost a family member, friend, or neighbor to addiction. Minnesota communities are paying the price while Big Pharma collects billions of dollars in profits. The House recently approved a plan to end the opioid epidemic by investing in prevention, treatment, and recovery (HF 400). Funding for these resources would come from the opioid manufacturers and distributors who were part of creating the problem. It’s time we hold those companies accountable and take meaningful action to help save the lives of Minnesotans.

Distracted Driving Prevention

The House also passed a bill that would ensure that drivers pay attention to the road, rather than their cell phones (HF 50). Distracted driving is a factor in one of five crashes on Minnesota roads. Hands-free laws require drivers to use their cell phones in hands-free mode, and other states have seen decreases in accidents and fatalities after passing this type of legislation.

Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals Ban

As noted in previous updates, I’m carrying a bill to ban the use of toxic flame retardant chemicals in furniture, fabric, and children’s products (HF 359). The bill is supported by Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters, Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association, Minnesota State Volunteer Firefighters Association, and Clean Water Action Minnesota, and has passed out of four committees so far. Unfortunately, the chemical industry doesn’t want to see this legislation become reality and continues to lobby against our work. The bill has also been included in the House Environment & Natural Resources Omnibus Bill.

I will continue working to protect kids and fire fighters from the unnecessary health risks of flame retardant chemicals. An MPR article (with audio!) about this issue and how my bill would help is available here.

Photo credit: Jennifer Simonson

State of the State Address

Governor Tim Walz gave his first State of the State address last night. The governor shared the stories of several Minnesotans in an inspiring speech. I’m confident that we can come together to improve education, health care, transportation and community prosperity and make our state work better for everyone.

A video of Governor Walz’s speech is available here.

U of M A-Line Study

The A-Line was our area’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) line. A recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that the A-Line has had many positive impacts and increased bus ridership by more than 30 percent. Riders and non-riders alike had largely positive feelings about the service. The A-Line currently runs from Rosedale Mall to the Highland Park area of St. Paul, connecting to both the Green and Blue light rail lines. It is a quality option for reaching the State Fairgrounds, MSP Airport, and the new Allianz Field! I will continue to advocate for extending the A-Line so more members of our community can access these benefits.  

You can read more about the study and its findings here. More information on the A Line, including a map of the current route, is available here.

I always appreciate hearing from constituents, so please feel free to share your questions and concerns.

Sincerely,

Jamie

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