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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL)

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Legislative Update - March 8, 2019

Friday, March 8, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
I continue to be grateful for the constituents who make trips down to the Capitol to advocate for issues important to them. This week, members of the United Steelworkers visited to discuss their priorities. The Iron Ore Alliance also held a legislative update where we got to honor John Rebrovich for his over 40 years of service to USW District 11 as he retires as assistant director. Congratulations also go to Cathy Drummond, the new assistant director.

I also thank officials from our area Soil and Water Conservation Districts for visiting, and we had a good conversation about their work.

Wednesday, the House Corrections Division considered HF 1159, my bill to fund improvements at the Northeast Regional Corrections Center (NERCC) in Saginaw. On the site of a 3,200-acre farm, NERCC is a unique correctional facility with some unique programming opportunities. My bill includes $2.85 million for renovations, remodeling, and other improvements.
One of the unique aspects of NERCC is a Meat and Food Processing Facility, which can be used for training to help get offenders on the pathway to productive careers when they reenter the community. In 2015, the Legislature authorized and delivered some funding for a pilot project for a butcher training program, and I’m committed to working with them to get a full program up and running. This project will help this facility be viable long term, and there are also 140 union jobs this will help secure. This also serves a purpose to help surrounding farmers process their local product. NERCC is referred to as “the workhouse that works,” holding offenders accountable, while providing them a path forward to success when they leave.
Minnesota Diabetes Advocacy Day
The skyrocketing price of insulin is an unreasonable burden for many Minnesotans. Every single day, people with diabetes depend on insulin, as well as other medications and supplies, to maintain their wellbeing. One of these Minnesotans is Travis Paulson of Eveleth, who traveled to the Capitol with his mother Judy to share his story with me.

This week as a member of the House Commerce Committee, I was proud to support a number of proposals to address the high price of insulin, a product people with diabetes depend on every single day. HF 485 ensures a way to allow Minnesotans to get an emergency supply of insulin if they can’t afford their insulin. Other bills we considered would increase price transparency, allow the Department of Health to review cost increases to determine if they are excessive, and stop insurers from removing coverage of certain insulin types during a contract year. I’m committed to helping out folks like Travis, and ensuring we can put people before Big Pharma’s profits!
Tom Rukavina Bridge
Yesterday, the House Transportation Committee held a public hearing on HF 513, my bill to name the Highway 53 Bridge the “Tom Rukavina Memorial Bridge,” and deliver gap funding to Virginia for their cost overruns. Having the privilege and honor to serve in the same seat Tommy held for 26 years, this legislation is extremely important to me personally, and incredibly important to our region.
For those of us here at the Legislature, citizens of the Iron Range, and for working people everywhere, Representative Tom Rukavina was an absolute champion. This bill will permanently commemorate his contributions to our region and state. Also, it’s clear the city of Virginia’s unanticipated costs for the highway reroute project shouldn’t be the responsibility of local taxpayers, and I’ll keep working to deliver this funding.
Honoring our Veterans
Tuesday, the Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on HF 826, my bill urging the President to honor the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient with a state funeral. Only four World War II veterans who were awarded the Medal of Honor remain alive today and they reside in Tennessee, New York, Oregon, and West Virginia. Generally, state funerals are only designated for Presidents, but occasionally others are given this honor as well.
There is momentum growing around this idea which not just honors the last Medal of Honor recipient from WWII, but honors the 16 million Americans who served in World War II and their sacrifices. The bill is a bipartisan initiative which I’m working on with Rep. Dan Fabian of Roseau. I hope Minnesota can be a leader in this effort which honors American heroes.
Other bills of mine heard by House committees this week included HF 809, legislation to extend grant availability for the Mesabi Trail, which was heard in the Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee, and HF 777, to invest in a public safety center and training facility in Virginia, which was heard in the Capital Investment Committee.
Please continue to contact me with your viewpoints and ideas. It’s an honor to represent you.

Dave Lislegard
State Representative