Dear Friends and Neighbors,
What a week in St. Paul! It’s felt like a frantic pace, but we are moving some important legislation forward and it is rewarding to be part of that process.
In this week’s update, I have information about prioritizing actions to ensure school safety, a possible change to the sulfate standard, news about my ridesharing bill, and highlights from local visitors.
Just as this legislative session got underway, America grieved the loss of seventeen lives at the hands of a deranged gunman in Parkland, Florida. And, once again, our nation is facing an incomprehensible and tragic school shooting. We can only imagine the grief of family and friends directly impacted. I have received a number of emails with suggestions on how Minnesota should work to protect our students in our schools.
I want you to know I’m listening and my fellow legislators are listening and responding.
Last session, legislators passed into law funding for the School Safety Center, part of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division within the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. This center conducts hundreds of training sessions across the state each year and assists schools with safety assessments, intruder responses, and how to identify red flags and behavior clues in troubled students. We have bolstered security in our courts, government buildings, and airports as a result of other attacks—we should look at improvements we can make to security in our schools to keep our students safe, too.
You will see several bills introduced this session as well. I am co-author on two of them – the first, authored by Rep. Franke, establishes threat assessment teams in schools and the second, authored by Rep. Loon, authorizes school districts to use long-term facilities maintenance revenue programs for physical modifications to enhance school safety.
I am hearing from local school superintendents that they do not want “top down” standards for safety measures, but could use tools to implement the measures they feel are appropriate.
Sulfate Standard Bill
On Thursday of this week, a bill I co-authored regarding sulfate standards for naturally grown wild rice was heard and passed out of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. The bill prevents the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency from applying a false, numeric standard for sulfate that is not supported by sound science. This is critical, not only for the mining industry, but for our communities who would incur prohibitive costs in attempting to meet a standard that is not proven to be effective in protecting wild rice. The bill also establishes a wild rice working group of interested stakeholders from around the state.
Ridesharing Bill in Committee
On Tuesday I presented my bill, HF3032, to the House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee. The legislation implements a statewide framework for ridesharing companies rather than the current city-by-city model.
I see ridesharing as another transportation option in Greater Minnesota, but we need to make sure there’s a consistent set of regulations throughout the state. Now we’re seeing a patchwork of laws that make it difficult for ridesharing services to expand to other areas like Grand Rapids. One set of statewide guidelines would make it much easier for these services to provide another mode of transportation for residents of rural Minnesota.
Among the many folks who visit my office in the State Office Building are leaders from our local community who come to St. Paul to advocate for issues important to their work. Pictured here are young leaders from Future Farmers of America in Deer River along with their teacher. I had an inspiring conversation with these students as they visited our Tuesday Environment and Natural Resources hearing. Also visiting from home this week were folks from Arrowhead Transit, local arts advocates, dentists from Grand Rapids and Hibbing, and Maggie Montgomery of KAXE/KBXE.
Please Contact Me
It was another great week of local visits from our area to St. Paul. Those that can’t make it to the Twin Cities can always call or email my office. I’d love to hear from you about any issues.
Enjoy your weekend,