The first two weeks of the legislative session are behind us. It’s great getting to visit with members of the community and advocates on a wide variety of issues. This week, these meetings included one in the State Capitol rotunda with some Eden Prairie students, and one with Lyle Goff, Board Chair of the Minnesota Lions Vision Foundation, working to deliver the gift of sight to Minnesotans.
The regular schedule of House committees has begun. I’m honored to be Vice Chair of the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Division. You may have seen an article from MinnPost that highlighted a challenge in higher ed. that we have as a state: the graduation gap between white students and students of color. We began the work of addressing this and other critical issues by hearing from representatives of the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State, and the Office of Higher Education. We also heard from candidates for the U of M’s Board of Regents. The Early Childhood Division and Education Finance Division also heard data-rich overview presentations that will serve as an important foundation for sound public policy.
I am gratified to say that we have renewed the effort to pass legislation requiring cellphones to be used in hands-free mode while driving. As people become more and more reliant on their mobile devices, it’s crucial to recognize the danger they create when used behind the wheel. Distracted driving is responsible for one in four crashes in the state of Minnesota. The “Hands-Free” bill is an overdue, common sense measure which will save lives. The bill will have its first committee hearing next week. Starting the session with strong, bipartisan support, I’m optimistic this can become law.
Please keep in touch with your ideas and viewpoints. It’s an honor to represent you.