It was a pleasure to attend Gov. Tim Walz’s State of the State Address in the House of Representatives Wednesday evening, along with fellow Team 13 members Sen. Jeff Howe and Rep. Tim O'Driscoll. I thank the governor for the enthusiasm he showed in expressing a desire to collaborate with the Legislature this session. I urge him to follow that up by being flexible and willing to compromise in order to find common ground as budget negotiations get serious over the next several weeks.
Congratulations to the ROCORI seventh-graders who are heading to the Minnesota History Day competition May 4 at the University of Minnesota. Through this program (an affiliate of National History Day), students conduct research and deliver a presentation in one of several categories for competitions at the school, regional, state, and national levels. Click here for more and, again, good luck ROCORI!
In St. Paul this week, most of our committee work centered on hearing omnibus finance bills which eventually will make up the various components of our state’s new two year budget. This includes the transportation bill, where the House majority recently confirmed it is following the governor’s proposal to raise the gas tax by 20 cents per gallon.
As a member of the House Education Finance Committee, I am keeping a close eye on the K-12 budget. The proposal that has been put forward gives me reason for strong concern. Look for more as we dig through the details.
On a separate education note, the governor has enacted a snow day relief bill following the large number of school days that were canceled during last winter’s harsh weather. School districts are allowed to waive days that were canceled and requires school districts to pay or offer alternative work to hourly employees who lost hours due to the cancellations. Contractors, such as bus companies, also must be paid for lost time.
On the floor this week, the House majority approved a bill that would allow individuals convicted of a variety of crimes to work in a variety of positions caring for our most vulnerable citizens.
The bill requires the Department of Human Services to consider granting a set-aside or variance to anyone who otherwise would have been disqualified as a result of a variety of serious felony and criminal convictions that are more than twenty years old. This would apply to background studies such as for personal care attendants, providers of home and community-based care services for Minnesotans with disabilities, adult day services, non-emergency medical transportation drivers and beyond.
I oppose this bill because, when our loved ones need assistance, they and their families deserve to know the people working with them are safe and trained. This bill compromises the “safe” in that equation, unnecessarily creating situations where vulnerable citizens could be exposed to danger. Our criminal justice system certainly could use some reform, but it cannot come at the expense of putting our most vulnerable citizens in risky situations.
The Senate has yet to take a vote on this bill and I encourage that body to vote it down if/when it does come up.
Thank you to the group of eight carpenters and laborers (above) who visited my office this week to discuss a variety of issues. I appreciate the input and will keep your thoughts in mind as we face important decisions at the Capitol.
Until next time, have a good weekend.