Despite a brief pause last week as the snow flew, it’s been another exciting couple of weeks at the Capitol. Here’s the latest on what we’ve been working on.
Cracking down on catalytic cover thefts
Minnesota ranks in the top five for catalytic cover thefts nationwide. Last week, we passed legislation to crack down on theft by prohibiting anyone from possessing a used, unattached catalytic converter unless the owner has the vehicle identification number (VIN) for the vehicle and the date the converter was removed from the vehicle. It prohibits the sale and purchase of catalytic converters by anyone other than registered scrap metal dealers and would impose a fine of up to $10,000 for unlawful possession and sale.
We also passed HF 16, which would ban conversion ‘therapy’ for minors and vulnerable adults. Conversion therapy has been identified by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatry Association as a dangerous and discredited practice that has traumatized many LGBTQ+ Americans.
Establishing the Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls
Another bill we passed last week was HF 55, legislation to establish an Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls.
When Black women and girls go missing, their cases stay open and unsolved four times longer than similar cases of white women and girls. This disparity is unacceptable, and action to remedy this disparity is long overdue. Establishing this office and investing resources into better prioritization of these cases is a step in the right direction. Once the bill is law, Minnesota will be the first state to have an office dedicated to addressing the disproportionate rates of missing and murdered women and girls.
This Week on the Floor
Thursday night, we passed legislation dedicated to ending homelessness in our state by investing in emergency services programs, transitional housing, outreach, and a pathway to stable housing for all Minnesotans. We also voted to ratify labor agreements for state employees, and put new guardrails into state law to prevent unconscionable price gouging during times of emergency, such as a pandemic or natural disaster. I proudly voted to support all of these great bills.
Redesigning the Minnesota Flag
One of the bills I’m excited to be carrying this session is HF 274. This bill would establish a State Emblems Redesign Commission to design and adopt a new state seal and a new state flag for Minnesota. Minnesota’s current flag includes racist imagery regarding our Native American neighbors and fails principles of good flag design.
I want to be clear about one thing – I am not an artist. When it comes to design, I will leave that up to the artistic experts. I can’t wait to see what they create.
Eliminating White Bagging
Another bill I’m carrying this session is HF 544, which seeks to ban the practice known as white bagging by healthcare and pharmacy providers. White bagging is a process in which an insurance company dictates which pharmacy can be used to dispense a patient’s medication, taking away the patient’s choice. This practice not only reduces market competition, but also harms small family-owned pharmacies in favor of large corporate pharmacies. This legislation will protect both consumers and small businesses.
Elections Committee Highlights
We’ve heard several exciting bills in the Elections Finance and Policy Committee over the past couple of weeks, which I chair. We recently heard legislation to grant access to apartments and condos to candidates and campaign workers to knock on doors and have face-to-face conversations with residents.
Another bill aims to ensure all postsecondary institutions with students accepting state financial aid have a list of students living on campus or nearby to use for election day registrations.
I’m excited we’re able to work on great legislation to increase voter turnout and make sure our elections are free, fair, and safe.
To stay up to date with our important work at the State Capitol, you can see the Minnesota House of Public Information Services’ nonpartisan recaps of high-profile bills, committee hearings, and floor sessions with their Session Daily publication.
You can also stay up-to-date with the latest by following my Facebook page.
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It is an honor to continue to serve you.
Rep. Mike Freiberg