Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Before the week gets underway, I want to take a minute to fill you in on the latest from the Capitol. In this week’s update, I’ll share some information about a few smoking bills, marijuana legalization, and a few of the many visitors from our area.
One of the bills dealing with smoking making its way through the legislative process this year would include electronic cigarettes in the definition of smoking under the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act. I am proud to coauthor this bill, which would prohibit vaping in indoor spaces where smoking is already banned. Vaping and e-cigarette use is addictive and dangerous and has become a serious problem, especially for our youth. I’ve spoken with area educators and school administrators about this issue and they have expressed their deep concerns with its prevalence among students. This bill would make vaping a less prominent part of daily life, which I believe can help steer young people away from it.
Another bill you may have heard about is one to raise Minnesota’s tobacco purchasing age to 21. I’ve received many emails from people on both sides of this issue and I understand the merits of each perspective’s argument. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to contact me to share your thoughts.
There is undoubtedly reason to be concerned by the numerous health risks that come with smoking. I’m very concerned by these health risks – and the increased risk of addiction – in young people who start smoking at an early age. I also have concerns about 18-year-olds purchasing tobacco and supplying it to younger kids. Because the health risks of smoking and tobacco use are so dangerous, I understand why we would want to create a law to curb use among young people in order to hopefully help save lives.
On the other hand, I understand the concerns held by opponents of the initiative who believe this bill represents government overreach into people’s lives. Likewise, our state recognizes 18-year-olds as legal adults and allows them to serve in the military, vote, get married, and do a number of other things. I understand that if they can do all of the above, it would make sense that they should be able to make their own decisions regarding tobacco use.
The tobacco 21 legislation continues to change in form during the committee process. I look forward to seeing the bill in its final form when it comes before the House as a whole for a final vote.
Meeting with Pam Fontem and Derek, advocates from Lake City, about Smoke-Free issues.
Another topic receiving substantial media attention is the prospect of Minnesota legalizing marijuana for recreational use. I remain opposed to this because of the far-reaching consequences it would have on impaired driving and traffic deaths, crime and public safety as a whole, long-term public health, teen use and access, and education.
The Minnesota Sheriff’s Association and law enforcement officers I’ve spoken with about this issue are opposed to it for these exact reasons. Similarly, they often cite stories and statistics of how these areas have been negatively impacted following marijuana’s recreational legalization in Colorado. For example, for every dollar Colorado has gained in tax revenue from marijuana, the state has seen an increase in social costs that has been 5-11 times that number. In addition, in Colorado’s Pueblo County, traffic deaths have increased by 150% since legalization.
Helena Hilbride of Red Wing Shoes and Red Wing students Teegan Cyr and Reed Loer were at the legislature to testify on the Learn and Earn program and their internships at Red Wing Shoes and Hearth and Home.
Red Wing student David Scheerer. David has been elected to serve as Governor for the Youth In Government’s Model Assembly next year.
With Cassandra Hinsch, Madison Bortholome, and Mariah Daninger during FFA advocacy day.
Staying in Touch
If you ever have any questions or concerns regarding any issue related to state government, please feel free to contact me any time. I can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 651-296-8635.
Have a great weekend,