Hello from St. Paul,
It was another busy week at the Capitol. I’ll highlight the significant pieces of legislation that moved forward, and in particular, the topics that I heard the most about from constituents like you.
Improving Teacher Licensing:
Last week, a bill I co-authored to reform the teacher licensure process (House File 140) was heard in the Education Innovation Policy Committee and then re-referred to Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee for its next hearing. This bill is a culmination of a lot of study and work by a task force led by the Education Innovation Policy Committee Chair, Sondra Erickson.
Our current licensing system is cumbersome and costs teachers unnecessary time and money. The state of Minnesota is also facing a teacher shortage, particularly in subject areas such as math, science, CTE and special education. We need to streamline the licensing process so that out-of-state teachers and community experts wanting to teach in Minnesota can get licensed efficiently.
Electing University of MN Regents:
As a member of the Higher Education Committee, I had the opportunity to hear testimony from all Regent candidates and also met individually with many of them to understand their backgrounds and how they would best serve the U of M. On Wednesday evening, the House and Senate met jointly and elected four Regents.
Two new regents chosen include Ken Powell, the chairman and CEO of General Mills, and former Minnesota House Speaker, Steve Sviggum. David McMillan, an executive with Minnesota Power, and attorney Darrin Rosha were both re-elected to serve another term with the Board of Regents as well.
Last Monday, the House of Representatives passed House File 30 on a vote of 85-45; this bill would allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays between the hours of 10 AM & 6 PM, effective July 1st. However, the bill does not allow for the delivery of alcohol to liquor stores on Sundays.
The bill passed the Senate this afternoon and Governor Dayton has said that he would sign it if it were to reach his desk. If the bill is signed into law, Minnesota would join 47 other states that allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays.
Although I appreciated the concerns from some business owners, I heard overwhelming support from constituents who wanted this flexibility to purchase alcohol any day of the week, like they can with most other products.
REAL ID Compliance:
Last Thursday, the House passed House File 3, which puts Minnesota in compliance with a federal law, known as the REAL ID Act.
To recap: the U.S. Congress passed REAL ID in 2005 with the intention to make it more difficult for potential terrorists to obtain a fraudulent identification card. The state of Minnesota needs to be in compliance by January 22, 2018; if the state is not compliant by then, Minnesotans would not be able to board airplanes, or visit military bases and federal buildings.
The differences between what a REAL ID compliant license would look like and the current driver's license are minor. The REAL ID verifies the license holder’s legal status in the United States and ensures they are not licensed in more than one state. The bill that passed Thursday allows for a dual track system for Minnesotans to become REAL ID compliant; you can either apply to get a REAL ID, or use your current state driver's license and a passport as your forms of identification.
I heard from some constituents about two different areas of concern: privacy and a provision in the bill that codified our current law that you have to be a legal resident of the U.S. in order to get a driver’s license. I replied via email or phone call to many individual constituents, but let me again provide clarification on each of these issues.
REAL ID doesn’t create a federal database to store any personal information. Minnesota data is collected and stored by the State of MN – just like it is today with your current drivers license.
Legal Resident Status:
There were some concerns raised about a provision in HF 3 that would prohibit state agencies from administratively moving forward to allow persons in Minnesota without legal immigration status to obtain a driver’s license. My thoughts are that this issue is one that should be fully debated and determined by the legislature—not by executive or administrative action. The provision in HF 3 will ensure that any action that changes our state’s current policy prohibiting driver’s licenses for people without legal immigration status will be made through the full legislative process with ample opportunity for the public to participate and express their views on the matter. My priority is ensuring that we bring Minnesota into compliance with Real ID, so that the public can continue to travel by air, conduct business at federal buildings and facilities, and visit their loved ones serving our country at military bases. Since this is a very time sensitive matter, I think it is appropriate that these two issues be separated and that the Real ID bill be advanced quickly.
Last week, I was visited by students with the Goodhue FFA. We talked about important issues related to education and the agriculture industry.
I met with Rachel Daley regarding issues related to dyslexia, and ways for parents and teachers to notice symptoms of it at a younger age.
I also met with Rebecca Keller, an occupational therapist in our community, and Jennifer Harveland with SELCO – (Libraries)
If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding anything related to state government, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-8635.
I appreciate your comments and concerns as it helps me be a better representative.