Congratulations to seniors Erica Gaebe and Evan Laning, Paynesville Area High School’s nominees for Academics, Arts and Athletics (AAA) Award, given by the Minnesota State High School League. May your well-rounded futures be bright, Erica and Evan!
As for legislative news this week, the House is starting to settle into a groove of this legislative session. While activity on the floor has been limited so far, committees I serve have been completing informational hearings and soon will begin bringing bills into the legislative process.
The day-to-day routine is a bit different this year with COVID-19 practices in place, but I continue meeting with various organizations through video sessions or over the phone. It’s good to have these meetings underway – even in a virtual sense – because, while the various “Day at the Capitol” events and traditional office visits are not being scheduled this year, it remains vital for me to continue connecting with constituents and stakeholders on the issues we face. Please call my legislative office at (651) 296-4373 if you would like to set up an appointment for a virtual visit or a phone call.
Minn. adopting Calif. car standards?
Gov. Tim Walz is looking to mandate California’s auto-emission standards in our state and, this week, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency conducted its first public information sessions regarding the mandate.
I have several concerns over this mandate and the process being used to move it toward implementation. First of all, adopting California auto regulations in Minnesota will come at a substantial cost to consumers while, at the same time, limiting choices. Mandating more electric vehicles makes fewer vehicles that many Minnesotans want and need (trucks and SUVs) available. I already have heard from auto dealers in our area who see the damage this may inflict on their business – at a time they cannot afford further strain.
Furthermore, this rule would make Minnesotans subject to California bureaucrats 1,700 miles away. If our state turns its car regulations over to California, do we also cede our decisions on semi-trucks, boats, lawnmowers, snow blowers, etc., that California regulates?
The fact the governor is pushing this agenda through the rule-making process is concerning on its own. He has circumvented the Legislature on COVID-19 decisions for more than 10 months and this is another example of him bypassing the process, deciding on his own that Minnesota should adopt California’s standards on cars.
If the governor thinks getting more electric cars on the road is a good idea, he should bring it to the Legislature and work on collaboration. Instead of resorting to state-mandated compliance, a better strategy may be to work on common-sense policies to reduce the cost of these vehicles and increase demand.
Additional public hearings on California Cars will be held on Feb. 22-23 and there also is a public comment period, runs through March 15. People can learn more or submit their comments here.
Stand Your Ground
This is a busy bill-drafting time in the House and I am proud to be the chief author of H.F. 131 to help people defend themselves against threats. This Stand Your Ground bill would eliminate the duty to retreat in cases of self-defense and it expands the boundary to allow use of deadly force to include your vehicle, camper, boat, etc. I look forward to carrying this bill through the legislative process and discussing this important issue.
COVID-19 vaccine project
St. Cloud is home to one of several new COVID-19 vaccination pilot sites that were launched in Minnesota this week. Appointments are being scheduled exclusively via phone or online. Minnesotans age 65 and older can schedule an appointment by calling (612) 426-7230 or (833) 431-2053, or by visiting this link.
Everyone MUST have an appointment; no walk-ins will be accepted. This will be strictly enforced; no-show replacements will be filled from the waitlist only – not from people who just show up at a site. There is a separate waitlist for each pilot site around Minnesota.
It should be noted the Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 “Find My Vaccine” website crashed shortly after its launch on Tuesday. This problem is the latest in a long line of tech failures by the state, namely the driver's license/registration fiasco with MNLARS. Anticipating the high demand that would occur for vaccines, especially from seniors, MDH should have better prepared to be inundated by those seeking to book an appointment or find out more information.
Watch for more news soon. Until next time, have a good weekend and let me know how I may help.