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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Ami Wazlawik (DFL)

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Legislative Update - May 28, 2019

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Dear neighbors,

My colleagues and I finished approving a two-year state budget on Saturday morning! I’m proud that we were able to pass a budget that protects health care for 1.2 million Minnesotans, invests in our students, increases funding for special education, and includes the strongest wage theft protections in the country.

Please join me tonight at the White Bear Lake Library for a town hall! Majority Leader Ryan Winkler and I will share more information about what we got done during the legislative session and take questions from community members.

Protecting Elders and Vulnerable Adults

In addition to finishing the budget, we’ve passed some important legislation recently. I was proud to vote for a comprehensive plan that will provide greater safety, dignity, and peace of mind for Minnesota seniors and vulnerable adults who live in assisted living facilities and for their loved ones. The plan requires licensure for assisted living facilities, – Minnesota was the only remaining state that didn’t require this – clarifies the rights of residents, prohibits misleading marketing, and protects residents from retaliation for reporting mistreatment. The House and Senate both approved this bill, and Governor Walz signed it into law last week. 

Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

The Governor also signed into law legislation that will help address the opioid epidemic, a crisis that continues to take more lives every year. This legislation invests in prevention, treatment, and recovery by holding opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable for their role in creating the crisis. These resources will help communities deal with the financial costs of the opioid epidemic and support those who are struggling with addiction.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Minnesota State Arts Board which supports communities across the state with Legacy Amendment funds! Our Legacy plan continues to provide significant investment in the arts so that Minnesotans have access to opportunities to create and enjoy a wide variety of art.

Legislation I’ve Authored

Several bills that I’ve authored were included in budget proposals and approved by the House. While a few of them were taken out during negotiations with the Senate, others made it into the compromise budget and are expected to be signed into law soon. Here’s an update on some of that legislation:

TCE ban (HF 2276): I introduced a bill to ban TCE so that other Minnesotans won’t be exposed to this cancer-causing chemical in their communities. On April 1, it passed in the House with a 120-7 vote. My bill had overwhelming bipartisan support, but the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce lobbied hard against it once it got to the Senate. While I worked closely with my colleagues from the House and Senate to incorporate language that would earn the support of stakeholders, in the end, Senate Republicans chose to protect big businesses rather than the health of Minnesotans. This setback was deeply disappointing, but I’ll continue working with community members and local and state officials to protect Minnesotans from exposure to this toxic chemical.

MinnPost published an article about my bill to ban TCE and why it didn’t pass. It’s available here.

Protecting youth from sexual misconduct (HF 812): Authority figures can only be charged with criminal sexual misconduct if they were in a direct position of authority over another person when they committed the offense. That means that teachers and coaches can’t be held accountable for criminal conduct with minors if it occurs during the summer or if they weren’t teaching or coaching the student directly. My bill would change that by establishing a 120 day look-back period for determining if a perpetrator was in a position of authority. This legislation was approved as part of the public safety budget and will be signed into law.  

Farms to food shelves (HF 1096): This bill supplies food shelves with milk, produce, and other food that’s grown or raised by Minnesota farmers. It will benefit farmers and food shelves and help in our efforts to end hunger in our communities. The bill was approved as part of the agriculture budget.

Improving water safety (HF 1341): Here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, water recreation is a huge part of our culture. All Minnesotans should be able to enjoy swimming, boating, and spending time at our state’s lakes and rivers. My bill, which was incorporated into the Legacy omnibus legislation, provides low-income and at-risk kids with scholarships for swimming lessons.

Support for the Minnesota Historical Society (HF 2498) and Minnesota Public Radio (HF 1338): These bills support efforts to preserve and celebrate Minnesota’s rich history and cultural heritage. The first one enables the Minnesota Historical Society to create statewide programs, support local organizations, and provide new opportunities for Minnesotans to learn more about our great state. The other helps MPR expand access to projects about Minnesota history. Both passed as part of the Legacy plan.

Minnesota Math Corps (HF 1177): Minnesota Math Corps helps students develop the math skills they need to succeed by pairing them with trained AmeriCorps members. As a Minnesota Reading Corps alum, I’ve seen how impactful this tutoring can be for learners. That’s why I introduced this bill to invest in the Minnesota Math Corps program. This bill was included in the E-12 education budget.

Resources for teachers (HF 945): This legislation, which is also in the E-12 education budget, would expand the definition of “textbook” that’s used to calculate aid for private schools. While this may seem like a small change, the new definition will make it easier for teachers to access the resources they need to be effective in the classroom by including teacher’s editions and guides.

I’ll continue to share details about the new state budget. If you’d like to read more, the texts and spreadsheets for each section of the budget are available here. House committees held public hearings to walk through the budget areas. Videos of the hearings are available here.

Thank you for the honor of representing our community! Please keep sharing your questions, concerns, and ideas as I continue fighting for you at the Capitol.

Sincerely,

Ami Wazlawik
State Representative

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