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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Fue Lee (DFL)

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Legislative Update - March 22, 2019

Friday, March 22, 2019





Asian Pacific Islanders Day at the Capitol

 

SEIU Members Day at the Capitol 
 

Students from the OutFront Minnesota Youth Summit 
 

Students from Patrick Henry’s 100 Black Men Strong event
 

Augsburg University Graduate student discussing issues and policies relating to social work

THIS WEEK IN THE LEGISLATURE
 
UPPER HARBOR BONDING 
On Tuesday I presented HF 2105 in the Capital Investment Division. My bill will appropriate $2,000,000 for a grant to the City of Minneapolis to predesign and design an outdoor performance venue at the Upper Harbor Terminal. It will also allow for the City of Minneapolis to conduct robust community engagement to identify community benefits that can be embedded in city contracts related to the design and the future development, construction, management, operation, maintenance, and capital repair of the performing arts center. No formal action was taken on the bill this week.
 
SUPPLEMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT
This Wednesday I presented HF 167 in the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division. My bill requires the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to offer supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) in their enforcement actions against polluters.
 
Currently, the MPCA often use SEPs to provide “extra” environmental and public health benefits. These are projects in which a polluter agrees to a settlement, but the fees paid generally go to a fund that goes toward statewide environmental projects. Under this bill, the MPCA would be required to offer SEPs that directly help the community that that's been impacted. The bill was heard in this committee to ensure privacy protection for the health information collected from these projects. The bill goes next to the Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee.  
 
MODIFICATION TO THE MINNESOTA POLLUTION CONTROL AGENCY’S SMALL BUSINESS ENVIRONMENTAL LOAN PROGRAM 
Yesterday I presented HF 1584 in the Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division. This bill was heard in the Environment and Natural Resources Policy committee last week and would expand the availability of a loan program to businesses with less than 100 full-time employees; lower the interest rate on loans; and raise the allowable loan amount from $50,000 to $75,000. The bill was re-referred to the Ways and Means committee.
 
SAVING LIVES BY STOPPING DISTRACTED DRIVING
On Monday the Minnesota House approved HF 50, the hands-free cellphone bill. This legislation requires Minnesotans to use their cellphones in a hands-free mode while on the road. There are exceptions for emergencies and one-touch activation functions.
 
Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia have hands-free cellphone laws. According to WCCO’s latest Reality Check, crashes and fatalities on the road decrease when states have hands-free cell phone laws on the books.
 
KARE11 has the story about the vote on HF 50 here.
 
OPIOIDS      
In 2017, more than 400 Minnesotans died as a result of opioid overdoses. More than 2,000 visits to emergency rooms for opioid-involved overdoses occurred the same year. The rate of opioid-related overdose deaths has steadily increased each year since 2010.
 
In response to heartbreaking personal stories, the Minnesota House voted on March 18 in favor of legislation to hold pharmaceutical corporations accountable for their role in creating this crisis. The Associated Press has a story about the vote here.
 
Big Pharmaceutical companies have collected billions in profits over the years and have not had to pay a dime to help Minnesotans get treatment or help law enforcement keep our communities safe. HF 400 creates an opioid stewardship council to collect $20 million annually from pharmaceutical corporations towards prevention, treatment, and education.
 
PROTECTING MINNESOTANS FROM SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Yesterday the Minnesota House approved HF 10 on a 113-10 vote. The bill improves the ability of victims and survivors of sexual harassment to seek justice. My colleague Rep. Kelly Moller of Shoreview, a prosecutor for Hennepin County, speaks often about the individuals who inspired this piece of legislation. Click here to watch her speech prior to the vote about a Minnesotan who is courageously telling her story in hopes that no one else has to experience the same harassment she did.
 
GOVERNOR WALZ ANNOUNCES THE “REVISED” BUDGET FOR ONE MINNESOTA
Today Governor Tim Walz announced the “Revised” Budget for One Minnesota. His supplemental proposal is based on the February state economic forecast, which revealed a significant reduction in the state’s positive budgetary balance. In fact, Minnesota’s budget experts say the balance declined by a third from the previous forecast, released in early December 2018. The Governor’s supplemental budget proposal retains smart investments in education, health care, and community prosperity. You can read more about it here.
 
I encourage you to contact me with any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas on any legislative topic. Also, I am available during select hours on Monday and Friday mornings most weeks for in-district meetings, if Northside residents aren’t able to make it to the Capitol. If you would like to send me a message or set up an in-district meeting, you can reach me by phone at 651-296-4262 or by email at rep.fue.lee@house.mn. I look forward to hearing from you!