Legislative Update – February 3, 2023
Last night, I had my first bill of the 2023 session heard and passed on the House Floor! My bill, known as the Lands Bill, allows the Department of Natural Resources and certain counties to sell parcels of land that no longer serve their original conservation or recreation purpose and acquire necessary additions to increase access to parks.
Minnesotans value their state lands, parks, and forests. State lands bills such as this one are noncontroversial, bipartisan, and used to be passed yearly. We are moving swiftly to clean up and catch up on unfinished business that stalled under a divided government. I was proud to present this bill, which is on track to pass the Senate and head to the Governor’s desk.
House Floor Votes
My colleagues and I have been working hard to pass legislation to make Minnesotans’ lives better. In January we had monumental floor votes on the following legislation. We have passed legislation to unlock $315.5 million in federal funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). We also passed the 100% by 2040 bill, a landmark piece of legislation that will help our state address climate change head-on and prepare for a carbon-free future.
On Monday night, the House passed the Drivers Licenses for All bill, which restores legal driving privileges to our undocumented neighbors. This years-long effort is led by a broad statewide coalition of immigrant-led organizations, unions, immigrants’ rights advocates, and community-based groups. And through their tireless efforts, they built one of the broadest coalitions imaginable in support of this bill: law enforcement, chambers of commerce, agribusiness, faith-based organizations, and workers’ rights advocates. I was proud to sign on as a coauthor and vote in support of the bill!
In addition to the Lands Bill, the House passed a bill designating Juneteenth as a state holiday last night. Juneteenth is observed on June 19th and marks the date in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure the last enslaved people in the United States be set free, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. We also passed the “Restore the Vote” Act, a bill that puts Minnesota in line with 21 other states that restore the right to vote to individuals convicted of a felony once they are released from incarceration, rather than their completion of a sentence, including probation. This bill helps correct racial disparities in representation that arise from incarceration while reducing recidivism by helping Minnesotans reconnect to their communities after they have paid their debt to society.
Enviro Committee Hears Air Pollution Bills
On Wednesday, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which I chair, took up several bills relating to air quality and air toxin regulation.
These bills would require facilities that hold air quality permits to hold public meetings to take questions from community members, that money recovered from civil penalties after air permit violations actually stay in the communities that were harmed, and require that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency take steps to collect emissions data and set rules and standards that accurately reflect the environmental and health risks of these toxic air emissions. You can read more about the legislation and watch the committee hearing 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.