The legislative session got off to a quick start on Tuesday. First on the agenda was the steelworker unemployment benefits extension.
Steelworker Benefits Extension Debate
The debate over bringing the steelworker unemployment benefits extension to the House floor for a vote was heated, and democrats voted unanimously to delay this vote. This is disappointing, considering Governor Dayton recently cut off a mining project by Twin Metals Minnesota before any preliminary research could be done. This mine would have provided the Iron Range with hundreds of new jobs. It’s frustrating that the DFL is unwilling to give this community immediate relief by extending unemployment benefits, while also preventing a project that would help get people back to work on the Range. I hope that we can come to a bipartisan agreement very soon, and get people the relief they need.
We are in the process of finding the best way to address the Real ID issue. There are different approaches that we can take, so it’s just a matter of deciding which will make the process as convenient as possible for Minnesotans. We should see a solution come to the House floor in the near future.
Veterans Affairs Committee
As Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I will be taking the time to review every piece of legislation that is referred to my committee. All veterans bills will receive a hearing, and I am excited to discuss ideas from both sides of the aisle during this quick-moving session.
We will also be having people from the Hennepin County Veterans Court testify on the veterans court process. These courts are starting to crop up around Minnesota, and are geared toward helping veterans who have had run-ins with the law get back on their feet. The transition back to civilian life is often very difficult, and these courts can assist in making that shift a little easier.
Earlier this week I participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completed phase two portion of the Minneapolis Veteran’s home addition. This veterans home provides disabled and elderly veterans private rooms (which can be shared with a spouse), in addition to communal living spaces to encourage community based on the shared bond of military service. I look forward to watching this project as it progresses.
Stillwater Elementary School Closings Vote
As many of you may know, the Stillwater school board voted 5-2 to close three elementary schools in the district. Promptly after this vote, a couple of lawsuits were brought against the school board by parents organizations who believe the school board mislead the community in using referendum money for a different purpose than it was requested for. I believe in local control, and I think it would be wise for the school board to hold off on eliminating the elementary schools in question until these lawsuits are resolved.
State Wrestling Tournament
On February 26th I helped referee the state wrestling tournament. It was great to catch up with coaches I worked with during the years I coached wrestling, and I enjoyed seeing all of the talented student athletes who participated.
Thank you for the honor of representing you in Saint Paul. Have a great weekend!