I hope you and your loved ones are enjoying the beautiful spring weather. Legislators are still at the Capitol, and House DFLers continue to fight for a budget that meets the needs of Minnesotans - especially those who were hit hardest by the pandemic and struggling before it began. We are working hard for strong investments in education, healthcare, economic security, and other priorities to help families and communities recover from COVID-19 and thrive for years to come.
Unfortunately, Senate Republicans are attempting to halt critical investments and support for Minnesotans. Instead of acting on bills that would help our students recover from a difficult year or prevent a wave of evictions when the eviction moratorium ends, they’re fighting for unpopular and harmful policies like voter ID laws, which Minnesota voters already rejected in 2012. It’s been difficult to reach compromises that work for Minnesotans with lawmakers who want to put large corporations and the wealthiest Minnesotans first at the expense of the rest of us. But putting the needs of Minnesotans first is the work voters sent us all here to do. We have an opportunity to build a stronger, more equitable state, and now is the time to stand up for our values and act.
Legalizing Adult-Use Cannabis
Minnesota’s cannabis laws are doing far more harm than good. First of all, they are perpetuating racial inequalities in our criminal justice system. Despite similar usage rates, Black Minnesotans are five times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white Minnesotans. Enforcing cannabis laws requires a significant amount of time and resources, which prevents law enforcement from focusing on more serious issues. Our current laws also make it difficult for many Minnesotans - including veterans - to get the care they need for chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious health issues.
Yesterday, the House passed a bill that would legalize cannabis for adult use, expunge the records of people convicted of nonviolent cannabis-related offenses, and create a responsibly regulated cannabis market in Minnesota. It addresses all of the harms I mentioned, as well as concerns about youth access, public health, and road safety, building on the lessons we’ve learned from other states that have legalized cannabis for adult use. I was proud to cast my vote for this historic legislation.
Clean Cars Moving Forward
Minnesota is set to become the 15th state in the nation and the first one in the Midwest to adopt clean car standards! A judge ruled last week that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has the authority to enact these standards. When they take effect, automobile manufacturers will be required to produce more cars that emit lower amounts of greenhouse gases and other pollutants than traditional gas-powered vehicles. This will give Minnesotans more access to low-emission vehicles and zero-emission vehicles like electric vehicles and hybrids.
Since transportation is the largest source of Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions, clean car standards are a crucial step in the fight against climate change. Estimates indicate they could reduce our state’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by two million tons. People who purchase them will save money on gas and maintenance, and all of us will benefit from having more clean cars on the road because they reduce air pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
Please stay tuned for updates as we approach the end of the legislative session. If you have questions or feedback on our work at the Capitol, please don’t hesitate to contact me.