The 2020 legislative session adjourned on Sunday night. We came together to pass some important legislation, but there’s more work to be done to build a better future for all Minnesotans – through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Here’s a brief summary of what we accomplished in the final days of session and what we’ll focus on next:
TCE Ban Signed into Law
Governor Walz signed the bill to prohibit the use of TCE on Saturday, making Minnesota the first state to ban this toxic chemical! The credit for this accomplishment belongs to the dedicated Minnesotans who fought to ban TCE, many of whom were exposed to it in their own communities. It was an honor to work with the White Bear Area Neighborhood Concerned Citizens Group and many others to protect the health of Minnesotans.
Other Bills Signed into Law
Addressing Prescription Drug Pricing
All Minnesotans deserve access to the prescription drugs they need to remain healthy. Governor Walz recently signed the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, which requires drug manufacturers to report pricing information for medications with prices that exceed certain thresholds or increase by a certain percentage over a 1- or 2-year period. The information will be posted on a public website in a clear and easily accessible format. Providing greater price transparency is an important step towards driving down the cost of health care.
Preventing Youth Tobacco Use
Minnesota has been a leader at curbing youth access to and use of tobacco, and we’ve seen incredible results. Unfortunately, we’re starting to lose ground to Big Tobacco. Tobacco companies are using new products like e-cigarettes, predatory marketing campaigns, and misinformation to get children addicted to their products. As a result, youth tobacco use has skyrocketed. On Saturday, Governor Walz signed a bipartisan Tobacco 21 bill to raise the tobacco sales age statewide. This will help combat youth tobacco use and keep Minnesota children and young adults healthy.
Protecting Minnesotans’ Health and Economic Security
Unfortunately, there was not enough support in the Senate to pass several important bills that I’ve mentioned in previous emails, including the COVID-19 Economic Security Act - which provides housing assistance, loans for small businesses, better broadband access, and a wage increase for personal care attendants, aid for low-income families with children, and compensation for hourly school workers. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Walz may call legislators back for a special session. If that happens, it’s possible we’ll get another chance to consider these important measures. I’ll continue working across the aisle to reach an agreement that delivers the relief and results that Minnesotans deserve.
Investing in Important Local Projects
On Saturday, my colleagues and I considered our Jobs and Local Projects Plan that invests in clean water, affordable housing, roads and bridges, and more. The legislation contains funding for important projects in our community – including the Lake Links trail and the County Road J and 35E intersection – and communities across the state. Unfortunately, due to a lack of support from Republicans, the bill didn’t pass. You can read more about the Jobs and Local Projects Plan and find a full list of included projects here. I’ll continue advocating to protect Minnesota’s public assets and create good-paying jobs that will help our economic recovery.
Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault
I also voted for a bill that would clear Minnesota’s backlog of untested sexual assault exam kits and allow survivors to track the status of their case. The bill requires law enforcement agencies to store untested kits and creates a database that survivors of sexual assault could use to track their kit. These changes would give victims time to decide if they want their kit tested, provide greater transparency, and hold law enforcement accountable. While this legislation didn’t find support in the Senate after passing the Minnesota House, I remain committed to fighting for survivors of sexual assault.
Stay Safe MN
This afternoon, Governor Walz outlined the next steps in his Stay Safe Plan, including a plan to allow limited outdoor dining at restaurants and bars. Starting June 1, restaurants and bars will be able to serve socially distanced outdoor meals to 50 or fewer customers at a time. The governor also announced that salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen and operate at 25 percent occupancy. This measured approach aims to protect customers and workers while allowing Minnesotans to support their local businesses.
All customers will be strongly encouraged or required to wear masks, make reservations, and follow social distancing practices to keep themselves, other customers, and employees safe. Please keep doing your part to protect others and make this gradual reopening process a success. More information about what the various phases of the Stay Safe Plan mean for you, your family, and your workplace is available here.
Make Your Voice Heard
Request an Absentee Ballot
The Minnesota Legislature recently approved a package of legislation to enhance the safety and security of this year’s elections. Part of this solution includes funding for an expected increase in absentee voting. Last week, Secretary of State Steve Simon announced that Minnesota voters can now request an absentee ballot for both the August 11 statewide primary and the November 3 general election. There’s no safer way to vote than from the safety and comfort of your own home.
You can request an absentee ballot here. The online application tool will ask for an email address and an identification number – either a Minnesota-issued driver’s license, Minnesota ID card, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. You can also check your voter registration status here and register or update your status here.
Please continue taking care of yourself and your loved ones. If I can be of help, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-3018.