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Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Poston (R)

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Capitol Newsletter from Rep. John Poston

Friday, March 8, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

It’s been another busy week in St. Paul as many committees have started meeting in the evening to make sure bills that need to receive a hearing before next week’s committee deadline are heard. Here’s a brief recap on the week that was.

Mental Health Help on the Way

On Monday, the Minnesota House approved a bill that provides funding in 2019 for statewide mental health counseling support to farm families and business operators and the Farm Advocates program.

I was proud to be a co-author on House File 232 and am happy that it was unanimously approved by a vote of 123-0.

Many people may not know, but farmers have been facing a mental health crisis in recent years as the suicide and depression rates in the agricultural community have been steadily climbing. This bill is a response to that epidemic and I am hopeful that this funding will help save lives.

CWD Detected in Crow Wing County

Last month the DNR confirmed that a wild deer in Crow Wing County, near Merrifield, had tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease. This is the first time in Minnesota that CWD – a fatal neurological disease affecting hoofed animals in North America – has been identified in a wild deer outside of the southeastern part of the state.

This is concerning news and something that requires a quick response from state and county officials, in partnership with private landowners.

Unfortunately, some in the legislature are using this news as an opportunity to punish elk and deer farms.

Just this week we heard a handful of bills in the Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division that seek to add additional burdens on cervidae farmers. The reality is that these sorts of farms are not the sole cause of CWD. In fact, most deer and elk farms go to painstaking lengths to ensure that their flock is not able to escape the farm.

Simply put, the bills being proposed by the DFL are not the right approach to address this issue.

Teacher Licensure Reforms in Jeopardy

Last session, the legislature was able to come to bipartisan agreement on some important reforms to the way teachers are licensed in Minnesota. These reforms were years in the making and represent a great deal of compromise on behalf of lawmakers and our former governor, Mark Dayton.

Unfortunately, Democrats are already looking to gut these important reforms as they heard a bill on Monday in the House Education Policy Committee that would do just that.

House File 1329 significantly undermines tier 1 and tier 2 teaching licenses—curtailing an important pathway to licensure for out-of-state teachers, teachers with non-traditional backgrounds and teachers of color. Nearly a quarter of licenses for teachers of color fall under special permissions or tiers 1 and 2. If this legislation were to become law, hundreds of teachers could lose their jobs.

The reforms passed last session have done wonders for schools in greater Minnesota that have struggled to fill vacancies. I’ve had a number of local school officials thank me for helping ensure these reforms were put in place.

Stay tuned on this as it continues to make its way through the process.

Diabetes Awareness Day

Tuesday was diabetes awareness day at the capitol—a day for folks to come to St. Paul and speak with legislators about their experiences living with diabetes.

That same day, the House Commerce Committee heard a handful of bills that aim to make insulin more accessible for folks that may be facing a diabetic emergency.

I am supportive of this legislation and hope that it can move through the process. It’s 2019 and MInnesotans should not be passing away because they are unable to afford insulin.

Staying in Touch

That’s all for this week’s update. I will have more for you as the session progresses as it’s sure to be a busy year. In the meantime, I urge you to contact me if you have any legislative questions, concerns, or ideas. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-5356 or via email

Have a good weekend,