Hannah Traaseth bravely told her story last week in the Public Safety Committee. Her story was the inspiration for a sweeping legislative bill named for her, Hannah's Law. The bill makes 5 changes to the state's criminal sexual conduct laws:
Adds "knowingly" to the definition of consent.
Changes the definition of mentally incapacitated to remove the condition that the intoxicating substance must be administered to you without your knowledge.
Removes "mistake of age" as a defense in statutory rape cases.
Extends "position of authority" to 120 days after the formal relationship ends between the teacher, school administrator, or coach, and the student.
Eliminates the statute of limitations.
This is an incredibly important bill, and I hope to see it become law this year. If you’d like to read more about the bill and the hearing, I’ve linked a Star Tribune article about it below:
Disaster Assistance Loans
Last Thursday, we unanimously passed SF 2225, which expands the Disaster Recovery Loan Program, which helps farmers finance expenses not covered by insurance, in response to the collapse of many farm building roofs across the state due to the heavy snow and ice. The bill did not appropriate any more money, it simply classified damage caused by the weight of snow, sleet, or ice as a condition eligible to access the loan program.
On Wednesday, the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor released a report of their investigation into fraud in the Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP). The report found that there was extensive fraud, though it could not substantiate a specific number, and a lack of internal controls at the Department of Human Services to stop fraud and prosecute perpetrators.
Yesterday's Legislative Session
Yesterday, there were several bills up for a final vote – a bill to address the opioid epidemic (HF 400), one that would prohibit handheld use of a cell phone (HF 50), and one that addresses the unusually high number of snow days during the 2018-2019 school year (HF 1743).
HF 400 establishes an Opioid Addiction Advisory Council and an opioid stewardship fund, and imposes registration fees on manufacturers of opioids in the amount of $20 million each fiscal year. It also addresses opioid prescribing practices and provides grants for substance use disorder treatment, recovery, and prevention programs. I voted no because it would increase the cost of health care for those who need opioids after surgery, have chronic pain or are at the end of life.
HF 50 would prohibit all handheld use of a cell phone while driving a vehicle. There would be exceptions for activating and deactivating features through one-touch hands-free mode, emergency situations, and while using a phone for official duties in emergency vehicles. It also increases the fine for a second offense to $350, and establishes a grant to a research organization to analyze data on traffic stops and report back to the legislature. I voted in favor of the bill to further protect all of us on the roads.
As always, if you need assistance on an issue pertaining to state government or have concerns or ideas about legislation, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 357 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.