Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week moved at an especially fast pace as we hit our first deadline in committees yesterday. It’s a key point in the legislative process because we get to personally present our bill ideas and welcome residents and other stakeholders to testify in the meetings. If you’re wondering about committee deadlines, House Information put together an informative video to describe the process.
Before the weekend, I want to make sure you receive an update this week with information on school safety, fixing our vehicle licensing, my bills in committee, local visitors, and more.
I've had many conversations with folks from our area, and understand how important school safety is for residents in our state. I recently wrote a column for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review on what steps we're taking in the legislature to protect our students, teachers, and staff in schools throughout Minnesota. Feel free to click here to read my column on what we're working on.
Yesterday, we passed a bill to allocate $10 million ($350,000 of which is for ongoing audits for the next two years) from the Department of Vehicle Services to address immediate needs in our state’s new vehicle licensing system, MNLARS. Legislators, registrars, and most of all taxpayers are upset the state has already spent $100 million for a system that still isn’t functioning properly. Instead of writing a blank check, our bill provides needed oversight to ensure your tax dollars will be spent wisely. We don’t want to throw good money after bad; the public and the legislature must know those in charge of MNLARS have a concrete plan going forward to fix this disastrous system.
This week, I presented my bills before two of the committees on which I serve and one other committee for the first time. The first, HF3763, to the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee. This bipartisan legislation restricts spending, appropriations or transfers from the Douglas J. Johnson economic protection trust fund to only those listed in statute. The intent of this legislation is to clarify that funds in the trust come from taconite production taxes and are to be spent in or for the benefit of the Taconite Assistance Area.
The second, HF3440, my snowmobile legislation, went before the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee. I think this is a good bill for our area because it increases the minimum amount the state must spend on grant-in-aid snowmobile trails. Snowmobiling continues to generate a boost to our winter tourism economy in northern Minnesota, and I think we can do a better job of using existing dollars for our trails.
I also continued to move my ridesharing bill, HF3032, through committees. This week we presented before the Transportation Policy Committee. The bill passed out of committee and onto Transportation Finance where it will be heard next week. The intent of the bill is to create a uniform set of statewide regulations to govern ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft and, hopefully, ease the path to expansion and providing services to greater Minnesota.
Between committee deadlines and bill hearings, I was able to schedule meetings in my office with local leaders. So yesterday, I enjoyed conversations with Mark White, president of the First National Bank of Coleraine who was in St. Paul for meetings in his capacity as Chair of the Minnesota Bankers Association, with Kelly Chandler of Itasca County Public Health, with Mark Box, Deer River City Administrator, and with two local superintendents (pictured here), Dave Endicott of Pine River-Backus schools and John McDonald of Northland Community Schools.
The fast pace around the Capitol can be hectic but seeing faces from home helps to remind me why I’m here.
Please Contact Me
If you can’t make it to St. Paul in the coming weeks, please feel free to call or email my office so we can connect.
Have a great weekend,