Today we received our bi-annual economic forecast for the state. While Minnesota is in a strong financial position, the forecast highlights significant challenges we may face in the future, which could undermine our ability to provide good schools, good roads, and good health care for Minnesotans.
We need to be diligent so we do not jeopardize our ability to provide Minnesotans with the resources they need, and we need to continue to invest in our people and our state so that we are setting up the next generation for a prosperous future. You can read more about the budget from MPR here.
Governor Walz establishes Climate Change Initiative
On Dec. 3, Governor Walz announced an executive action on climate change, establishing a Climate Change Subcabinet and a Governor’s Advisory Council on Climate Change. These groups will guide the Walz-Flanagan Administration in creating bold and collaborative action to combat climate change.
This initiative will complement work we are doing in the Minnesota House. Our new Climate Action Caucus has met three times this fall to discuss the intersection of climate and housing, transportation, and public health policy. You can learn more about our work here.
Holding JUUL Accountable
Minnesota recently announced a lawsuit against e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL. Earlier this year, the Legislature also took action to protect public health by adding e-cigarettes to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act.
JUUL developed products with higher, more potent, and more addictive doses of nicotine than conventional cigarettes and other e-cigarettes — then failed to disclose that to its customers and represented that its products are a safe alternative to cigarettes. Their sleek-looking products and child-friendly flavors like peach and bubblegum were designed to appeal to youth.
This rapid growth has wiped out the last 10 years’ worth of progress that Minnesota made in fighting youth tobacco use. 2017 was the first year in nearly two decades that saw an increase in tobacco use among high school students.
Support for Paid Family Leave
Earlier this year, I proudly voted for legislation that gives all Minnesotans Paid Family and Medical Leave -- because no one should have to choose between earning a paycheck and taking care of a sick family member or bonding with a newborn. But the Republican-controlled Senate unfortunately would not consider it. And according to a new in-depth story from USA Today, Americans overwhelmingly support it.
A Historic decade at the Minnesota Legislature
In less than a month, a new decade arrives. Over some of these past 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of representing our community at the state Capitol. A lot of historic moments occurred in St. Paul from 2010-2019, and I'm reflecting on some of the most consequential moments and their impact on our state as we head into 2020. Here are a few:
- Medicaid expansion in 2011
- Voter ID ban defeated in 2012 election
- Barack Obama re-elected POTUS in 2012
- Same-sex marriage legalized in 2013
- Income tax increase for richest 2% of Minnesotans in 2013 to balance budget, end decade of chronic deficits, and invest in Minnesota
- Free All Day Kindergarten for all children approved in 2013
- Minimum wage increased in 2014 (went from one of lowest-in-the-nation to one of highest)
- Green Line light rail between Minneapolis and Saint Paul opens in 2014
- Minnesotans get two female U.S. senators for first time in 2018
- House DFL re-captures majority in 2018 for first time in four years
- Opioid manufacturer accountability approved in 2019
- Strongest wage theft prevention law in nation approved in 2019
And there are so many more. If you have some favorite moments from the past decade, share them with me!
Medical cannabis program adds new qualifying conditions
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced it will add chronic pain and some eye conditions as new qualifying conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program, beginning in August 2020.
The program’s two medical cannabis manufacturers will double the number of patient cannabis treatment centers from 8 to 16, because of legislation we passed during the 2019 Minnesota Legislative Session. These new sites will mean greater access to cannabis treatment centers, expanding to Willmar, Mankato, Golden Valley, Rogers, Woodbury, Blaine, Duluth and Burnsville.
No Child Left Inside applications now open
The new No Child Left Inside initiative is a grant program that gets more children outdoors, created by the House DFL earlier this year. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources received an overwhelming response with more than 400 applications. Preference is given to projects that propose new and innovative ways to serve youth who have limited outdoor opportunities. The grants are open to public entities and nonprofit organizations serving youth. Applications due by 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9. The minimum grant for this second phase is $5,000 and the maximum is $49,999. In this phase, the total amount available for all projects is $500,000.