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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Josh Heintzeman

Friday, March 8, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

Last month the DNR revealed that a wild deer in Crow Wing County had tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). This is the first time a CWD-positive deer has been found outside of southeastern Minnesota.

This news has created a ripple effect across the state and across our area. Many folks are concerned about how this impacts next year’s deer hunting season and the overall health of the deer herd in Crow Wing County. While I appreciate the DNR’s quick response to this news and for their willingness to host a listening session in Brainerd earlier this week, I remain vigilant and I want to see results. Legislative commitments in St. Paul prevented me from attending the meeting.

I am very concerned by this news and have met with the DNR and local officials to discuss next steps to prevent the spread of CWD to other herds in the area. It is my hope that with a quick response from state and county officials, in partnership with private landowners, we will be able to understand the threat to deer in Crow Wing County.

In response to the news, I introduced legislation that would establish the Chronic Wasting Disease Research Center at the University of Minnesota using LCCMR money. The Center would develop solutions to control the spread of chronic wasting disease and study the impacts of the disease on wildlife health, human health, and farmed Cervidae (deer farms).

In addition to funding for this new center, my bill would appropriate $1.8 million to develop a diagnostic test for CWD that uses samples from living deer. The University recently came to the environment finance committee with a research plan that they believe can develop such a test and my bill fully funds that request.

We also need stakeholders to come together and work to control CWD. Unfortunately, there are still question marks as to how CWD is spread and where it exists in the landscape. Few benefit from playing the blame-game. We can take ground in this battle against CWD, but first, we need the tools only research can produce. I'm committed to working together and funding the science necessary to get the job done.

Gray Wolf Protections Lifted

News broke on Wednesday that U.S. wildlife officials are planning to lift the protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states.

The move is not yet official and will likely once again face legal challenges from animal rights groups, but this is good news for pet owners, farmers, and ranchers in our area whose animals are under constant threat from wolves.

Stay tuned as this is likely not the last update we will have on this issue.

Gun Bills Receive Second Hearing

On Wednesday, two controversial gun bills received their second hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

House File 8 would impose several new requirements and restrictions on the transfer of various firearms, including long guns, between private parties.

House File 9 creates a process in which family or household members, a chief law enforcement officer, a city or county attorney, or a guardian can petition for an “extreme risk protection order” which would prohibit someone from possessing firearms.

Neither bill does anything to address the core issues that drive people to commit violent acts with firearms. Instead, they infringe on folks' Second Amendment Rights, place undue burdens on law-abiding gun owners, and make a mockery of a person’s right to due process.

I remain opposed to both bills.

Democrats Move to Repeal Teacher Licensure Bill

On Monday, the House Education Policy Committee heard a bill that would gut reforms to Minnesota’s tiered teacher licensure system. These reforms were enacted last session and were a major bipartisan reform that was years in the making. This new system has opened doors of opportunity for out-of-state educators, teachers of color, and technical educators.

I recently heard from my local Superintendents that these reforms have been especially helpful in Greater Minnesota as school districts have struggled in recent years to fill teaching vacancies.

It is a shame to see Democrats move to repeal these reforms after only two years—we should at least give them a couple more years to see if there are any issues before getting rid of them.

Staying in Touch

That’s all for this week’s update. I will have more information for you as the session progresses. In the meantime, I urge you to contact me to share any thoughts, concerns, or questions you may have. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4333 or via email at

Thanks and have a great weekend,