This week, my colleagues and I worked quickly to pass a bill updating Minnesota’s tax code into conformity with federal law. This will result in over $100 million in tax cuts to a wide range of Minnesotans while simplifying future tax filings. This efficient and unified action is just the beginning of an effective legislative session under House DFL leadership. By passing this bill within the first two weeks of the legislative session, the Department of Revenue will be able to incorporate these measures in time for this year’s tax filing season. I am encouraged the legislation passed unanimously on a 132-0 vote.
Supporting Minnesota Tourism
I also worked this week to introduce HF232, a bill to provide funding to Explore Minnesota Tourism. As we continue to recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential for us to continue supporting tourism across the state of Minnesota. Many businesses and workers in our communities rely on tourists visiting our fantastic restaurants, hotels, museums, and more in Saint Paul and this bill would help ensure that Minnesota stays a travel destination for others across the county and the world.
Environment Committee Gets to Work!
It was a busy and productive week for us in the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which I chair. On Tuesday, January 10 we held our first joint hearing with the Senate Environment, Climate, and Legacy Committee. We heard presentations from the DNR, the Department of Agriculture, the MPCA, the University of Minnesota, and more on the current state of the invasive species emerald ash borer.
Minnesota is home to nearly 1 billion ash trees, nearly one in five community trees, and emerald ash borer is spreading throughout southeast Minnesota and the metro area. Left untreated, those ash trees will die—which will have devastating impacts on our climate. Our committee talked about ways to slow the spread and help cities treat, remove, and replace these trees. You can watch the full committee hearing here.
On Wednesday, January 11 we heard a presentation from the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR) and passed two bills. First, we heard a proposal to fund the popular Lawns to Legumes program. Minnesota’s Lawns to Legumes program offers grants and technical assistance to establish pollinator-friendly native plants on residential lawns. The program helps landowners replace grass with plants such as honeysuckle, clover, thistle, sunflowers, and goldenrods. Since its start in 2019 Lawns to Legumes has created 3.5 million square feet of pollinator habitat. Every year thousands of grant applications can’t be awarded without more funding, and this bill will ensure the program will have funding going forward.
Then, the committee voted to pass my bill HF206 to study the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on game species such as whitetail deer and pheasants. Last fall, state biologists found high concentrations of neonicotinoids in deer spleens collected by hunters and in pheasant eggs that were fed with seeds treated with chemicals. I was quoted at the time stating, “We know there are devastating impacts of neonicotinoids on the environment and wildlife," Hansen said. "But there has been a willful ignorance to ignore this. At some point, policymakers need to take action."
My bill would help the Department of Natural Resources better understand how these pesticides are negatively impacting our game species. This proposal was included in last year’s LCCMR bill but was not accepted by the Senate, so I am glad that the committee moved the proposal forward this week. You can read more about the hearing in the latest Bluestem Prairie post here.
Stay in Touch
Please continue to share your questions, ideas, and feedback throughout the legislative session. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-6828. You can contact my Legislative Assistant Sam O'Neill at 651-296-3305 or via email at Samuel.ONeill@house.mn.gov.