Preparations for the 2020 legislative session have kept me busy this month! Continue reading to learn more about the work I’m putting in to make the legislative session a success.
Earlier this month I visited St. Cloud with several first-term House members. It was a great opportunity to hear directly from Minnesotans who often can’t make the trip to the Capitol and to learn more about the diverse needs of communities throughout the state.
I also attended a Youth Town Hall hosted by the Minnesota Youth Council. While the next generations of Minnesotans are at the top of our minds when we craft legislation, we often fail to include them in the decision-making process. My colleagues and I are trying to change that. It was a pleasure to speak with these smart, dedicated young people about a variety of issues, including education, mental health, and the environment.
The Climate Action Caucus and I held another community conversation last week. We focused on how climate change is affecting Minnesota’s colleges and universities. While the intersection of climate and higher education presents many challenges, it also gives us some exciting opportunities. Minnesota’s world-class colleges and the students who attend them could be a crucial piece of our state’s fight against climate change. I’m excited to explore what that would look like this year.
The House Agriculture and Food Committee chose to focus on the climate crisis at our first public meeting of the year. While we’re all seeing the impacts of a changing climate, it’s been particularly tough on Minnesota’s farmers. To protect their livelihoods and our state’s food supply, we need to adopt more sustainable agricultural practices and improve our ability to withstand severe weather events, warming temperatures, and other consequences of climate change.
On Tuesday I went to the Prenatal to Three Policy Forum, an event that brings more than 200 advocates, policymakers, and community members together to share their priorities and build toward a unified agenda. Creating these partnerships will help us reach our shared goal – getting all Minnesota kids off to a great start in life!
Reducing TCE Emissions Across Minnesota
Last year I voted for funding that’s helping the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and Minnesota businesses work together to reduce trichloroethylene (TCE) usage and emissions. According to a report the MPCA released on Wednesday, which you can read here, state officials have completed assessments of 86 facilities that use or generate TCE. These facilities have reduced their emissions by more than 174,000 pounds since May of 2019. Several businesses voluntarily agreed to stop using the carcinogenic chemical. Others have significantly reduced their usage or started searching for an alternative solvent.
This partnership also helped the MPCA identify a few companies that may be exceeding TCE benchmarks even though they hadn’t violated their permits. This discovery allowed the agency to begin working with the facilities to reduce their emissions and assess public health risks in the surrounding areas.
The MPCA and MDH will continue working with these facilities and conduct more assessments in the coming year. While I still believe that companies shouldn’t be allowed to use dangerous chemicals like TCE, I’m grateful that many Minnesota businesses are putting the health of community members and workers first. This initiative is a step in the right direction!
Make Your Voice Heard
Be a Voter in the 2020 Presidential Primary
Absentee ballots are now available for those who are ready to vote in Minnesota’s 2020 presidential primary! If you want to be one of the first people in the nation to cast your vote, you can request an absentee ballot here. If you’d like more information about the presidential primary, the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office has answers to some frequently answered questions here.
Stay in Touch
A column I wrote about what I’d like to accomplish in the upcoming legislative session was published in the White Bear Press and Hugo Citizen this week. If you missed it, it’s available here.
I have some new legislative priorities this year, but my primary goal will always be making sure your voice is heard. Please don’t hesitate to call or email me if you have questions, ideas or feedback. You can reach me anytime at email@example.com or 651-296-3018.