Our second bill deadline is tonight at midnight, so this week has been packed with committee meetings, bill hearings, and constituent visits. Here are some updates from the Capitol:
State Employee Contracts and Pensions
On Monday, the Minnesota House approved labor contracts for state employees. These were negotiated in 2017 and I’m glad we moved them to Gov. Dayton’s desk where he signed them on Tuesday. We know the positive impact these employees have on making our state a great place to live, so it’s good to have this issue resolved after numerous delays.
While the Senate approved a bipartisan plan to secure the pensions of 500,000 former state employees on Monday, the House has yet to take up the bill. Since this is legislation that earned broad support, we shouldn’t delay sending it to Gov. Dayton.
On top of securing the pensions for employees who have dedicated their careers to our state, it also provides a $6 billion reduction in current and future costs by lowering state, school district, county, and city liabilities.
Protecting Pre-Kindergarten Funding
Gov. Dayton urged the Legislature to protect pre-Kindergarten programs from being eliminated for 4,000 students across the state on Tuesday. The Rochester Public School District has been one of many in the state to receive funding.
Unfortunately, if the one-time funding isn’t extended, our school district will lose more than $650,000 in state funding in 2019. We need to constantly be exploring new avenues to set our children up for success, and extending this funding for pre-K is an important part of that formula.
Click Below to View My Comments in House Agriculture Policy Committee
Starting at 59:00: Elocution of my concerns regarding attempts to stymie Department of Agriculture rule making.
Energy Assistance Still Available
While the Cold Weather Rule that protects Minnesotans from natural gas or electricity shut-off ends April 15, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the heating season in Minnesota. To keep the heat on through chilly weather ahead, low-income residents who need help paying their utility bills can apply for the Energy Assistance Program and establish a payment plan with their utility.
Funds are limited and households are served on a first-come, first-served basis. Details are available on the Commerce Department’s Energy Assistance webpage.
As always, feel free to reach out to me at the Capitol with your ideas and input.