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

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First Bill Passes and More!

Friday, January 29, 2021

Dear Neighbors,

Time flies when you’re on Zoom! The first three weeks of committee meetings and other legislative work have kept me busy. Here are some updates about what I’ve been working on and other information I hope you find useful.

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The view from one of the many trails in our district.

Vaccine Pilot Program Launches

The Governor announced an update to the COVID-19 vaccine pilot program. Minnesotans age 65 and older will now have a 24-hour window of time to pre-register for a randomized opportunity to get an appointment at one of the nine community clinics. The new process is geared toward preventing a surge of website and call center traffic at a given moment in time and allowing for more equitable access to appointments. The pre-registration window is now closed. We will have to wait until next week for the next update on this process. 

This process is bound to evolve as the state receives more vaccines and learns what works well and what needs to be improved. I share the frustration of many of you as we try to make sure our higher risk family members are protected as soon as possible. We all want to return to normal, but in the meantime we will have to remain patient and continue to follow preventative measures like wearing a mask, distancing, testing often and staying home when sick. Continue to follow Minnesota’s dashboard for up to date information on our progress.

First Bill Passed Off the House Floor!

Although there is no award for being the first bill passed in the biennium, I was proud to be the chief author of a relatively simple legal change to extend the ability of counties to issue marriage licenses remotely during the pandemic. House File 17/Senate File 26 was a joint effort with Republican Senator Warren Limmer, and the bill passed off the House floor yesterday on a vote of 127-3.

More information about the bill can be found here and a link to the floor debate can be found here.

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League of Women voters Conversation

Last week, I met with several other area Legislators and the League of Women Voters as we discussed the 2021 session. We covered many different issues such as the supposed urban rural divide, health care improvements, addressing racism, and more. I encourage you to watch our candid and informative conversation here.

Keystone XL Release

On his first day in office Biden took the important step to halt the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This pipeline was unnecessary and went against our goals of addressing the climate crisis, protecting our water, and respecting treaty rights.You can read my full thoughts on this issue here

Democracy for the People voting act

I am the co-author of a recently introduced legislation that will defend and strengthen our elections. Here are the main provisions of the bill:

  • Prohibits intimidating and harassing voters or elections officials and using deceptive practices to disenfranchise voters.
  • Gives state and local elections officials access to the critical federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds they need for election security and infrastructure.
  • Establishes automatic voter registration, allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, and restores the right to vote for Minnesotans who are on probation or parole.
  • Strengthens absentee voting by creating a permanent absentee ballot list, establishing ballot drop box and return sites, removing the witness requirement, and ensuring voting instructions for absentee ballots are provided in multiple languages.
  • Closes dark money loopholes, while making outside groups that spend large amounts of money disclose their three largest donors. The disclosure process for online and digital advertising will be modified as well.
  • Modernizes the Political Contribution Refund (PCR) program, replacing it with Democracy Dollars coupons that are available to all registered Minnesota voters.
  • Empowers voters and small donors with a small donor public financing match program for candidates and the creation of small donor committees for grassroots efforts.
  • Improves Minnesota’s redistricting process by setting fair criteria for lawmakers to follow when drawing and evaluating maps. It also creates a public process to solicit Minnesotans’ input, make redistricting data available to the public, and provides advance notice of maps and hearings.

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Stay in Touch

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance or if you have questions or feedback that you’d like to share. You can reach me by email at rep.jamie.becker-finn@house.mn or by phone at 651-296-7153. 

Sincerely, 

Jamie Becker-Finn
State Representative

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