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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL)

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Legislative Update- December 2, 2019

Monday, December 02, 2019
 

 

Rep. Elkins

 

 

Dear Neighbors,

The House Capital Investment Committee concluded its statewide “bonding tour” last month, visiting several sites across the state, including 54 counties with proposed public infrastructure improvements. Throughout the statewide regional tour, committee members learned about local communities’ infrastructure needs firsthand. Visits included colleges and universities, public safety facilities, wastewater treatment and flood mitigation systems, parks and trails, and many others.

I was able to join the committee as it made two stops in Bloomington to learn about two worthy projects vying for state funding: the Bloomington Center for the Arts expansion and the Normandale College modernization project.

Sixteen years after it opened, the Bloomington Center for the Arts is bursting at the seams. An expansion of the center would leverage the facility’s resounding success as a regional destination for artists and audiences. It would also foster greater community engagement in the arts in a prime and increasingly diverse south suburban setting.

Bloomington City Manager Jamie Verbrugge joined the tour and voiced his support for state funding to accommodate additional seating, an enhanced entryway with improved accessibly for all, increased rehearsal space, more secure equipment storage, and an on-site café for visitors.

 

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Normandale Community College is seeking state funds to renovate outdated classrooms and student study spaces, which haven’t been updated since the college’s founding, 51 years ago. If this project is selected to be funded in 2020, 25 classrooms will be renovated, updated technology will be added to classrooms and labs, and the math center and open computer lab will be expanded.

Normandale is a world-renowned institution committed to delivering outstanding educational opportunities to students not only in our community, but across the state. Thank you President Ester for your thoughtful presentation and passion for higher education!

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Cannabis Survey

House Majority Leader Winkler and several of my colleagues have been working on a path forward for a safe, responsible and unique framework for adult-use cannabis legalization that’s responsive to Minnesota’s needs and concerns.

On November 18th, I was able to attend a “Listening Session” in Eden Prairie where we heard from two officials from Colorado about the “lessons learned” from their experience with the legalization of recreational marijuana and then took public testimony. Two of the biggest concerns that many of you have expressed to me are related to legalization’s impact on driving while intoxicated and teen use of marijuana.

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It was a relief to hear from them that Colorado saw no increase in DUIs. The lack of a good test to measure the level of THC in the bloodstream remains a concern. The presence of THC can be detected with a saliva test and that, plus a “field sobriety test”, are being used to enforce the DUI law in Colorado.

Teen use of marijuana has actually decreased in Colorado! This is attributed to the reduction in black market sources with the implementation of a regulated market. 

You can find the Colorado presentations here.

We also heard directly from members of the public who told of the great benefits they’ve received from using medical cannabis for relief from pain and PTSD symptoms, and who advocated for easier access.

I have been impressed with how thoroughly Rep. Winkler’s task force has been researching this issue with the cooperation of the Walz administration. Every agency in State government has weighed in on how legalization might impact their operations, from Public Safety, to Health, to Revenue, and no stone is being left unturned in their examination of this issue. If proposed legislation emerges from this work, I’m sure that it will be comprehensive and very well-considered.

I am judiciously considering all pros and cons, data, and concerns of Minnesotans, which is why I would appreciate your input. Take a short survey to share your thoughts and sign up for updates on future events here.

Please contact me anytime with questions or input. I appreciate hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Steve Elkins

State Representative

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