Last week was an exciting week here at the Capitol, as committees are hard at work to put together budget bills, meaning we’re in the final stretch before we pass some of the great legislation we've heard in committee and make strong investments in the future of our state.
BRAND NEWS took a brief hiatus last week, but we’ll be back this week for another edition.
State Budget Targets
Recently, the House Speaker, Senate Majority Leader, and Governor Walz reached an agreement on a framework for a new state budget. With Democratic leadership in the House, Senate, and Governor’s office, we’ve been able to work together to agree on a budget with almost two months remaining in the legislative session. This means committees will have more time with their budget targets to carefully consider legislation rather than rushing to decide at the last minute.
I serve as the Vice Chair of the House Workforce Development Committee, and this week we’ll be advancing our budget to invest in strong, equitable opportunities for Minnesotans' economic security. Beginning this month, committee work will conclude and each chamber will pass budget bills off the floor.
Repealing the School Vehicle Retirement Requirement
Last week, the House passed my legislation to repeal the requirement that type III public school vehicles, such as minivans and cars, be retired once they are 12 years old. Current state law requires this retirement regardless of if they are still in safe working order.
Public school districts operate on tight budgets and can’t afford to replace perfectly fine vehicles, and frankly, replacing vehicles still in good shape is wasteful. With supply chain issues making it harder to find affordable vehicles for schools to purchase, this requirement has placed an undue financial burden on school districts. This is a small thing we can do for our schools to have a significant positive impact on budgeting and planning.
Remembering the Comfrey-Saint Peter Tornado
Last Wednesday marked the 25th anniversary of the Comfrey-Saint Peter Tornado that devastated our community in 1998. Gustavus Adolphus College, which suffered significant damage, released a video remembering the storm, which came out of what seemed like nowhere at the time, with no warning.
Last week, the Minnesota House passed legislation to allocate $40 million to replenish the state’s Disaster Assistance Contingency Account. The Disaster Assistance Contingency Account, signed into law in 2014, expedites assistance to communities burdened with damages to public property and infrastructure like roads, utilities, and public buildings. Previously, in circumstances like this, legislative action was needed to send emergency funds to disaster victims in Minnesota. Once law, this act will allow access to emergency funds almost immediately so that communities can provide supplies and assistance to residents and begin rebuilding efforts.
Preventing Gun Violence
Last week, former Arizona Senator Gabby Giffords stopped by the Captiol to advocate for commonsense gun safety legislation. In the wake of yet another devastating shooting in Tennessee, it is on us to fight back with smart legislation to protect our community.