The 2020 legislative session begins today! I’m excited to return to the Capitol and get to work. My first bill hearing of 2020 will be this coming Thursday in the Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee. I am the chief author of the bill to appropriate the recommendations of the Outdoor Heritage Council, which puts our Legacy dollars to work in protecting and restoring our public natural spaces. To learn more about the work we do on the Outdoor Heritage Council, please check out this recent piece from the Star Tribune.
Before session started, I took some time to go on an ice fishing trip with my family. Check out the giant walleye I caught at Lake of the Woods! We had a great time on the lake, and I encourage you to make the best of our Minnesota winters.
Thanks to everyone who came to the town hall that Rep. Kelly Moller, Sen. Jason Isaacson, and I held recently. If you weren’t able to make it, the Shoreview Press published a piece about some of the topics that we discussed. You can read it here. Please feel free to call or email me to share your thoughts on these issues or others that are important to you.
Reducing TCE Use and Emissions
Thanks to legislation that we passed last session, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Department of Health (MDH) are working with businesses to reduce trichloroethylene (TCE) usage and emissions. According to a report that the MPCA recently released, which you can read here, state officials have assessed 86 facilities that use or generate TCE since May of 2019. They identified eight that were likely exceeding state health limits for TCE emissions, including one in Minneapolis that was emitting 95 times more than the limit. The MPCA and MDH contacted each company and began assessing public health risks in the surrounding areas. Since then, four of the facilities have stopped using TCE. Three have reduced their usage and begun searching for an alternative chemical. In total, the 86 facilities that were assessed reduced their combined TCE use by more than 174,000 pounds.
State officials will continue working with these facilities and conduct more assessments in the coming year. This initiative is a step in the right direction, but I believe that we need to do more in this area. While some Minnesota businesses are transitioning away from TCE, far too many are still using it and other toxic chemicals. I’ll continue advocating for a statewide ban on TCE and policies that protect workers and community members this year.
Local Projects Included in Governor Walz’s Local Jobs and Projects Act
One of our top priorities this session will be passing a robust bonding bill that invests in Minnesota’s roads and bridges, public buildings, colleges and universities, and other important assets. Governor Tim Walz recently released a list of his project recommendations, and I’m pleased that he included the Roseville Oval! As the largest outdoor refrigerated ice rink in this hemisphere, the Oval welcomes thousands of Minnesotans and visitors from around the world each year. It’s an important resource for our community, but the repairs and renovations it needs would significantly impact the City of Roseville’s budget without a boost from the state. I accompanied the House Capital Investment Committee on a tour of the Oval last fall, and I’ll continue to champion this project as the committee members craft their own recommendations.
Free Tax Help Now Available
Tax filing season has begun, and I want to make sure Minnesotans know that there are more than 200 free tax preparation sites available to help people file their state and federal income tax returns. You can generally get help at one of these sites if you’re 60 years old or older, have a disability, speak limited or no English, or have an annual income that’s less than $56,000. Click here to see if you qualify for free tax preparation help and find a site near you. Thousands of taxpayers are also eligible to file electronically for free. Click here to find out if you qualify.
Be Counted in the 2020 Census
The 2020 Census is just around the corner. This once-a-decade count provides crucial data that’s used to determine how much federal funding our state receives for schools, fire departments, hospitals, roads and bridges, and other crucial services we all rely on. It’s also used to reapportion seats of the U.S. House of Representatives. Getting a complete count is particularly important this year because Minnesota is on the verge of losing our eighth congressional seat. In March, the U.S. Census Bureau will start sending information on how to be properly counted to every home in Minnesota. Click here to download a fact sheet with more information or here to watch a short video.
The U.S. Census Bureau must fill thousands of temporary positions to conduct the census. These jobs provide flexible hours and wages that start above $20 per hour. More information about working for the Census is available here.
Season Two of the Minnesota Values Podcast
The Minnesota Values Podcast is back for a second season. In the first episode, my colleagues Rep. Liz Olson and Rep. Jamie Long interview special guest Governor Tim Walz. Listen at https://anchor.fm/mnvaluespod or anywhere podcasts are available, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.
Please continue sharing your questions, feedback, and suggestions with me as the legislative session progresses. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-7153.