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

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Legislative Update - August 23, 2019

Friday, August 23, 2019

Dear neighbors,

It’s hard to believe that we’re approaching the end of August. It’s been a busy and eventful summer! Here’s an update on what I’ve been working on lately.

Water Gremlin Update

Last night, the MPCA issued an administrative order to Water Gremlin requiring an immediate shut down of its coating operations. According to the order, Water Gremlin received test results that indicated the facility was releasing DCE on June 20. The company waited until July 30 to submit that data to the MPCA. Water Gremlin also didn’t take any action to stop the release during that time.

The administrative order, which is available here, is a good summary of what we currently know – and don’t know – about this situation. If you’d like more information, the MPCA is holding a public meeting to discuss what’s happened and what the agency is doing to address the situation.

When: Tuesday, August 27 at 7:15 p.m. (The doors will open at 7 p.m., and MPCA staff will be available until 9 p.m.
Where: Central Middle School, 4857 Bloom Avenue, White Bear Lake, MN 55110

Protecting Our Environment and Natural Resources

Earlier this month, I represented our state at the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) gathering in Nashville, Tennessee. NCEL brings together experts and lawmakers from across the nation to tackle pressing environmental issues. It was a great opportunity to learn what other states are doing, figure out what’s working and what’s not, and find new and effective ways to solve problems.

During the conference, I learned more about:

  • Plastic pollution: The Star Tribune recently called microplastics – miniscule pieces of plastic that can contaminate lakes and drinking water – the “Great Lakes’ latest pollution threat.” Not much is known about where they are coming from or how they impact people and aquatic species, but it’s clear that microplastics could be a big problem. Minnesota is doing more to address this emerging issue than any other state. More information on microplastics and what our state is doing about them is available here
  • Local foods: Several states are encouraging residents to eat locally and compost. For example, Alaska established a $5/Week Alaska Grown Challenge to give local economies a boost and increase food security statewide. You can read more about it here.
  • Carbon-free initiatives: Building a carbon-free future is good for the environment and the economy. I attended a session to learn more about carbon-free initiatives such as efficiency standards for appliances, electric school buses, and hydrogen powered cars.
  • Addressing toxic chemicals: My big takeaway from discussing toxic chemical issues with other legislators was that the costs of remediation are huge – and largely borne by taxpayers. We need to ensure that polluters are held accountable.

Our state was well-represented at the NCEL conference in Nashville. I look forward to applying all that we learned here in Minnesota!

Last week I had a chance to tour the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC). University of Minnesota students and researchers at MAISRC are working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on research-based solutions that can reduce the impacts of aquatic invasive species in Minnesota by preventing spread, controlling populations, and managing ecosystems.

I got to try out the “carp cannon,” an innovative way to stop the spread of invasive carp species, during a tour of MAISRC.

Fighting Sexual Assault and Gender-Based Violence

Addressing sexual assault and gender-based violence is one of my top priorities. This year, my colleagues and I successfully fought for structural changes that help victims/survivors get justice, protect children, and stop these crimes from happening in the first place. My latest Legislator Lingo column has more details on the progress we made and what I plan to tackle next. You can read it here.

I also recently attended the first meeting of the Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutory Reform Working Group, a group that my colleagues and I voted to establish this year. The working group will review Minnesota’s criminal sexual conduct statutes, identify loopholes and inconsistencies, and recommend changes. You can learn more and follow their progress here.

Minnesota State Fair

The Great Minnesota Get Together has begun! I’m looking forward to trying some new foods, seeing all the cute baby animals at the Miracle of Birth Center, and talking with folks at the House of Representatives booth. If you’re going to the State Fair, I hope you’ll stop by the House booth in the Education Building. I’ll be there on Saturday, August 31 from 2 to 4 p.m., but you can chat with legislators and take the annual legislative survey anytime.

I hope to see many of you at the State Fair or one of the upcoming events in our community. As always, please feel free to share your questions and concerns.

Sincerely,

Ami Wazlawik
State Representative

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