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

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Final Deadline Week

Friday, April 8, 2022

Dear Neighbors,

Today is the third deadline day, the date by which all finance committee chairs must finalize their all-encompassing “omnibus finance and policy bills” and pass them to the Ways and Means committee. I serve on three finance committees: State Government Finance & Elections; Transportation and Commerce and all three of them had passed their omnibus bills by the end of the day, yesterday.

In a divided legislature like ours, most individual bills pass by being included in one of these omnibus bills and then surviving the arduous conference committee negotiation process with the other chamber. I have three bills that have made it to the floor of the House, but only one of them, a noncontroversial administrative bill that would give the Bloomington Housing and Redevelopment Agency the authority to add members to its board to increase its diversity, is likely to pass into law as a standalone bill.

I have three bills that stand a good chance of making it into law as part of the Transportation Omnibus Bill. The first would improve transit safety by allowing Metro Transit to hire additional non-sworn safety officers to enforce fare evasion as an administrative citation, like a parking ticket, and place more public safety workers on its trains and buses to discourage criminals. The second implements the recommendations of an independent expert review task force which was convened to study the shortcomings in the staffing and financing of Driver and Vehicle Services provided by DVS and its Deputy Registrars in the field. This is an issue that I have been working on for a few years now, with the hope that it will provide the financial foundation needed to open a new DVS service office in Bloomington. The third will initiate a task force to study the implementation of a fair and sustainable method of financing our road system across the transition from gasoline powered vehicles to electric vehicles, another issue which I have been researching for some time.

I have two bills that are included in the Health & Human Services Omnibus Bill. The first would prevent health plans from kicking you off a prescription drug that is working for you, midyear, and would require drug companies to publish their exorbitant prices to the public. The second would require insurance companies to cover the provisioning of compression garments to patients suffering from lymphedema, a condition that is prevalent among breast cancer survivors.

There are a few provisions from my Legalizing Affordable Housing Act which are likely to be included in the Senate’s Omnibus Housing Bill, but this is less certain.

I am also pleased that our State Government Finance bill includes several provisions providing funding to upgrade the State’s foundational enterprise resource planning systems for accounting, human resources and payroll. The routine maintenance of these systems has been neglected for so long that we are in danger of losing technical support services from the software vendors because our systems are so out of date. This morning, I'm participating in the monthly meeting of the State's Technology Advisory Council, which the legislature created last year to help guide the State's information technology strategy and investments.

Once the dust settles, I’ll provide a broader summary of the most important content of this collection of bills.

I would have to say that my biggest disappointment for this session, so far, is our lack of progress on meaningful election reform. There is no common ground between Democrats and Republicans on this issue. There is no interest among Republicans in passing campaign finance reforms, election security improvements or ranked choice voting and there is no interest among Democrats in taking up voter suppression legislation fueled by baseless voter fraud conspiracy theories.

Therapy Animal Day

This is one of the most stressful weeks of the legislative calendar, so my Legislative Assistant, Mike Hermanson, arranged for North Star Therapy Animals, which provides therapy dogs, to bring several of them to the foyer outside my office on Wednesday afternoon so that my legislative colleagues could avail themselves of their much-needed services. It was a big hit!


Keep in Touch

Don’t hesitate to reach out if I can provide any assistance. Please follow me on my Facebook page for further updates and invite your friends and family to do so as well. 

Thanks for the honor of representing you at the Capitol. 


Steve Elkins
Representative, District 49B
Minnesota House of Representatives

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