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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL)

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Legislative Update- February 14, 2019

Thursday, February 14, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
I hope you’re having a good week! Now that we have finished the sixth week of session here at the Capitol, I have a lot of updates for you. Several pieces of legislation that would improve the lives of Minnesotans have made significant advances this week. Here are a few of them:

Net Neutrality

It is hard to think of a more significant consumer protection issue in Minnesota today than the need for net neutrality. Given the amazing power of the internet, how it has come to impact literally every corner of our lives, it is absolutely essential that every Minnesotan has access to a free, fair, and open internet. Today, internet service providers have the power to decide, free from any limitation, what we see when we open our browsers. They can speed up your access to websites that feature products they favor. They can block your access, or simply slow down to the point that it effectively blocks your access to the services they dislike. 
This is why I have authored a bill that would enact net neutrality in our state. The bill (H.F. 136) would make it illegal for internet service providers from engaging in such anti-consumer behavior, and prohibit the state from doing business with providers that do not agree to act in accordance with net-neutrality principles.
On Wednesday I held a press conference introducing the bill, and I testified on behalf of it in a public hearing in the Commerce Committee.  I am pleased to report that the bill passed through the Commerce Committee.  It still has a long road ahead of it, but it was a good first step.

Bill to Hold Perpetrators Accountable

On Tuesday, the second hearing was held on H.F. 15, a bill that I authored. This bill would help to support victims of sexual assault by getting rid of the “voluntary relationship defense,” which shields perpetrators from prosecution in certain instances if they are married to the victim.
This is a very emotionally-charged issue, especially for the victims, but it should not be a partisan issue. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting victims of sexual assault as it moves through committees, and I will make sure to update you with any news on this issue. You can find Fox 9’s coverage of the story here.

Amazon Distribution Center Update

Yesterday, I became aware that a representative from Amazon was making the rounds at the Legislature and meeting with a handful of Representatives and Senators. I was not on the list, but requested a meeting, which happened a few minutes ago. At that meeting, I expressed my strong opposition to Amazon building a distribution center at the Project Hotdish site. I told Amazon that the community was opposed, and articulated the significant concerns we have related to increased traffic, noise, and safety along 109th Ave. The representative from Amazon listened to my concerns, but also said she was unaware of Amazon's plans for the site. She did tell me she would convey my thoughts to the appropriate people at Amazon.

Capitol Visitors

I had a great time visiting with nurses from Champlin and Coon Rapids today. We talked about expanding access to high quality health care, curbing the opioid epidemic, and putting a stop to violence against nurses in the workplace. I am very happy to report that I'll soon be introducing bipartisan legislation to help make sure nurses have a safe working environment. Right now, national statistics show that nurses are 5 to 12 times more likely to be subject to violence at work that other professions. That is just unacceptable. If you ever want a tour of the capitol, or have something that should be discussed in person, please reach out to my office.

Upcoming Town Hall

As a reminder, next week I host my second town hall meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, February 19th at Jackson Middle School. My colleague and Chair of the House Tax Committee, Representative Marquart, will join us to answer any questions or concerns you have about current/future tax codes in Minnesota. While much of the focus will be on taxes, any one that is interested in learning more about what is going on at the Capitol is welcome.

Keep in Touch

Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, comments or concerns. I appreciate your input!
Zack Stephenson
State Representative