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

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Legislative Update - March 26, 2019

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Dear Neighbors,
Last week it was a pleasure spending time with union members from the Iron Range. With the weather warming up, the State Capitol steps make for an excellent meeting location. These nurses take care of us and our loved ones when we need it most, so we must take care of those who take care of us!

Public health workers are also dedicated to their work in serving Minnesotans, and I had a good conversation with some of them from Saint Louis County. They came down to educate and advocate for much-needed funding for the Local Public Health Grant program.




Stopping the Spread of EAB
Last Tuesday, the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee held a public hearing on my bill, HF 2015, to stop the spread of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The bill establishes a program to deliver matching grants to communities working to respond to EAB. EAB is an insect which infests and kills weak and healthy ash trees alike, and with nearly 1 billion ash trees in the state, all of them are vulnerable.
The Minnesota DNR has a map here tracking where EAB has been located and where there are quarantines. Due to our colder temperatures, the spread of EAB hasn’t affected northern Minnesota to the extent it has the metro area and southeastern Minnesota, but we must be vigilant to slow its spread. This legislation will contribute to this effort.
Addressing Our Opioid Crisis
The House took a step forward last week to stop tragedies caused by our state’s opioid crisis. New data was released this week showing the number of deaths due to overdoses has increased for the seventh consecutive year. The bill we passed, HF 400, contains comprehensive education, prevention, recovery, and treatment strategies. It's also time for drug companies to pay their fair share toward these solutions, and with the registration fees for them under this bill, they will. Funding from these fees will then go toward initiatives to end the crisis.
Minnesotans have courageously shared their stories, and they helped raise the urgency of taking action. I particularly want to thank the bill author, Rep. Liz Olson of Duluth, whom I joined for a press conference before the vote.

Keeping Our Roads Safe
One in five crashes on Minnesota roads comes as a result of distracted driving. Increased dependence on smartphones has played a part in this, resulting in safety taking a back seat.
The Minnesota House approved a measure to require that any cellphone use while driving be done in “hands-free” mode. Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia have hands-free cell phone laws. According to WCCO’s “Reality Check,” crashes and fatalities on the road decrease when states have hands-free cell phone laws on the books.
The bill contains some exceptions for emergencies and “one-touch” functions. I was proud to support this overdue bill to protect all Minnesotans on our roadways.
Now, our attention will quickly shift toward preparing a two-year state budget. I’ll be working to ensure this budget is fair for Minnesota families, and invests in the things that will keep our state strong, such as education, health care, and our public infrastructure. I’ll have more details on this soon.
Please continue to contact me with your viewpoints and ideas. It’s an honor to represent you.

Dave Lislegard
State Representative