We’ve been through a lot this summer and I’m grateful to many of you who’ve reached out to share your thoughts and feelings about what’s happening and how it’s impacting you and our community. I’m seeing so many neighbors taking action to fight for changes to keep our communities safe from gun violence, protect reproductive freedom in Minnesota, and create a safer, more just state for all Minnesotans. What gives me hope is you.
It is clear to me that our community and people across Minnesota want common-sense gun regulation that will end mass shootings and the epidemic of gun violence. Even though the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on guns made it harder to act within state legislatures, it is imperative that we fight to enact common-sense gun regulations that will keep our kids and families safe from the gun violence epidemic.
I am committed to the work of protecting our democracy and our ability as Minnesotans to solve our problems together. You sent me to the state legislature to do the work for the people of Minnesota and I cannot do that work without you. It’s an honor to amplify your voices at the State Capitol and together, I believe that we can make Minnesota a better, safer, more just place.
New Moorhead Underpass
After decades of planning and five years of construction, we can finally celebrate our brand-new Moorhead transportation infrastructure! As a community who has an extremely high rate of trains daily it’s so important that we invest in efforts like this. Reducing the interaction trains have with traffic is key for quicker response time for our first responders and community accessibility.
Thank you to all of the leaders who worked at bringing this vision to reality.
Urgency to Address Gun Violence
The celebration of the Fourth of July holiday was shattered by gun violence this year. I’m holding the victims, their families, neighbors and communities in my heart.
The horrific mass shooting at a parade in Highland Park is the most recent consequence of an epidemic of gun violence and extremism and gun violence that touches every community and region in America. Closer to home, Minneapolis neighbors were also impacted by July 4th gun violence at Boom Island on Monday. What were supposed to be celebratory experiences left communities broken and families and neighbors traumatized. I’ve heard from so many of you on this issue - we need to move swiftly on gun regulation to save more lives. We, as a nation, deserve better.
Minnesotans and Americans are demanding urgent action to address this crisis of gun violence. It’s long past time that the politician's beholden to the gun industry stop blocking policy, and develop the political courage to ban assault rifles, close the gun show loophole, and pass red flag laws - all proposals popular with voters. I’m constantly inspired by the organizing of incredible leaders in our communities and organizations like Moms Demand Action, and I will continue to join them in the work of building a better, safer world for our kids.
Hometown Heroes Assistance Program Update
As a result of the bipartisan Hometown Heroes Assistance Program we passed into law, we’re already seeing an immense impact on firefighters' lives across the state – with free health and wellness resources to protect our hometown heroes and their families.
You or a firefighter you know can access these free benefits and support today. Learn more about the Hometown Heroes Assistance Program here.
Hemp THC Legal in Minnesota as of 7/1
As you may have heard, low-dose THC edibles and drinks became legal under new legislation that came into effect on July 1st, as detailed in this StarTribune article. This legislation is not full legalization of cannabis but is a tangible step towards the safe regulation of THC products in Minnesota. It also makes us the only state in the union to make THC Seltzer and Beer legal in local breweries and bars.
The new law is a positive step forward for business owners and consumers who buy hemp-derived products, but Minnesotans deserve a comprehensive legalization framework for cannabis. Much work remains undone. We must address the harms caused by the war on drugs, including expunging cannabis criminal records, creating a new marketplace based on equity, and dedicating new revenues to the communities most harmed by cannabis prohibition.
This legislation allows Minnesotans to safely obtain the products they want. Before this legislation was signed into law, the state of Minnesota had little to no regulatory framework around products containing THC derived from hemp. Products targeting youth quickly proliferated across the state, often with colorful advertising/packaging and candy-like products with non-childproofed containers. The new law adds necessary guardrails to protect kids. This legislation was well researched and discussed at-length in the open in public.
My hope is that next year we can fully legalize cannabis, address racial disparities in our criminal justice system, tax it to put investments into our communities and put forward important public health measures.
First Indigenous Regent for UMN
Our House Higher Education Committee frequently discussed the importance of having Indigenous representation on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, a board that often makes decisions affecting Native students and the sovereign tribes in Minnesota. This week, Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan announced the appointment of Tadd Johnson to the board, making him the first Indigenous regent in state history.
This historic appointment is made possible by the continued advocacy of tribes and community members across the state to see representation at every level. Congrats, Regent Johnson!
Veterans Service Bonuses
This session, lawmakers came together to pass a Veterans and Military Affairs bill supporting those who’ve courageously served our nation. This bill invests significant new funding to address veteran homelessness, provides additional funding for Minnesota’s three new veterans homes, and enlistment incentives for members of the Minnesota National Guard.
The budget also includes funding to recognize post-9/11-era veterans – and Gold Star Families – with service bonuses of up to $2,000. There are approximately 48,000 eligible veterans, over half of whom deployed to combat operations including those in Afghanistan or Iraq. We have a long history of awarding service bonuses to Minnesota Veterans who served in America’s wars. Starting in 1919 after World War I, through World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, and now the Global War on Terrorism.
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is facilitating the program. The application period will begin on July 7 and you can learn more here.
Indigenous Connection and Preservation
As part of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, I’m spending some time visiting with all of the tribes in Minnesota. I’m so grateful for the time that Mdewakanton Sioux members and staff took to connect and show me around their incredible cultural center, Hocokata Ti. I learned so much, and established important relationships that will inform my work at the Capitol. Everyone should check out Hocokata Ti if you ever have the chance!
I also got to stop by their amazing Mdewakanton Public Safety building and the eco-friendly composting lot.
-There’s a labor shortage in our emergency services industry. We need to build support and encourage young people to become firefighters, paramedics, and police officers.
-Students enjoy learning how Mni Sota became Minnesota, and are able to appreciate the true history here.
-The Mdewakanton Sioux (Dwellers of the Spirit Lake) really live up to their values; Generosity, Honestly, Wisdom, Compassion, Prayer, Respect, and Humility.
Every home in the U.S. is now eligible to order a third round of free at-home COVID-19 tests. Click here to place your order. You can also call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489). More COVID-19 updates are available through the Minnesota Department of Health website, or the U of M Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).
Communicating during the legislative interim
Today marks the 60-day deadline from the end of the legislative session, therefore, state law dictates this will be my last update until after the election. During an election period, legislators cannot use state resources for unsolicited communications because it might create an unfair advantage for incumbents.
I can continue to help with the state-level problems and discuss important issues in our community, so if you have any questions or feedback you’d like to share, I welcome your questions and comments anytime. You can send an email to email@example.com or can call my office at 651-296-5515.
As always, the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services offers nonpartisan recaps of high-profile bills, committee hearings, and floor sessions with their Session Daily publication. Subscribe to receive these here.
Also, please visit and “like” my Facebook page for more Capitol and community updates.
Thank you for the privilege of representing you in the legislature.
District 4A - firstname.lastname@example.org
Me and Chairwoman Shelley Buck at the annual Prairie Island Wacipi.