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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Abigail Whelan (R)

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Legislative Update (4-1-16)

Friday, April 1, 2016

I was joined at yesterday’s hearing by Rep. Andre Jacque who shared his experiences with aborted fetal tissue research at UW-Madison, and was chief author of similar legislation in Wisconsin

Dear Neighbors,

On Thursday, my bill addressing the aborted fetal tissue controversy at the University of Minnesota was heard before the Health and Human Services Finance Committee. House File 2865 withholds $14 million in future university funding unless the university establishes a center to oversee the university’s use of fetal tissue for research. Most importantly, the center is to ensure that the university only purchases tissue from babies that die of natural causes.

Some background on the issue: Last year when I and other legislators and staff inquired into whether or not the University of Minnesota participated in research on aborted babies, the response was an almost immediate, and emphatic no. We later found out that this was not entirely true and since then the university has done a complete 180 on the issue.

To be clear, I am supportive of fetal tissue research if the tissue is procured in an ethical manner—through natural death. I also want to emphasize that I love the University of Minnesota. I hold two degrees from the university and spent several months working as an intern for a campus ministry before I ran for office. Furthermore, as to medical research, one of my family members is currently battling cancer and participating in a clinical drug trial at the university.

I say this as someone who wants to work with and promote the university. I believe the university does great work, and my hope and prayer is that we can come together on a compromise, because I believe the university can find a way to procure fetal tissue to research ethically and within the bounds of our laws – specifically, from babies that die of natural causes, which is something they themselves have admitted they would like to be able to do.

If you are interested, I encourage you to watch Rep. Hamilton’s comments from the hearing. His comments can be seen here.

Stay tuned for more updates on this issue.

Update on REAL ID

On Tuesday, the House voted to repeal the state’s moratorium on REAL ID preparation. The legislation, which passed on a vote of 125-2, allows lawmakers and state agencies to begin gathering data and information in order to bring Minnesota into compliance.

There are a number of privacy concerns regarding REAL ID and a great deal of the preparation that is to be undertaken will be looking at ways to ensure Minnesota IDs meet federal standards while also protecting your private data.

The federal government has set the deadline for compliance to 2018. Rest assured, your travel plans will not be interrupted and Minnesotans currently are and will be able to board an airplane with their state issued driver’s license.

New Website Created to Share your MNsure Story

If you've been having issues with MNsure, I encourage you to share them with lawmakers. This week, House Republicans in the State Government Finance Committee launched a website to gather comments and feedback from Minnesota families, taxpayers and small business owners affected by MNsure.

The new website can be found here and is also linked on the House State Government Finance Committee page.

Staying in Touch

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions, comments, or concerns on anything related to state government. It would be an honor to discuss your ideas on how we can make Minnesota better for everyone. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-1729 or via email at

You can also stay up-to-date on everything that is happening in St. Paul by visiting my Facebook page and Twitter account.

Have a wonderful weekend!