Now the focus shifts to House and Senate conference committee work. Five senators and five representatives are appointed in each issue area to resolve differences within each version of a bill. You can follow along and learn the latest on negotiations here.
I'm honored to have been appointed to the Environment Conference Committee.
This week, our conference committee heard from a University of Minnesota professor and experts from Explore Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Their testimony, which you can watch here, highlighted the importance of taking action this year. Especially with a historic surplus, it's critical we invest in solutions to address issues like Chronic Wasting Disease, aquatic invasive species, Emerald Ash Borer, protect pollinators and more.
Our Environment Conference Committee has approved policies that are identical in the House and Senate bill. We also found policies that were similar and voted to adopt the House language in these cases. This is a good first step and I look forward to finding common ground to get the job done ahead of adjournment on May 23.
Director Forrest Boe of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources spoke to the #EmeraldAshBorer crisis in the #EnviroConferenceCommittee. Minnesota has one billion ash trees at risk. If we don’t remove & replace the diseased ones, the implications for climate & carbon storage, storm water absorption, shade, livability & wildlife habitat are profound. We must act. #ForAHealthyThrivingMinnesota
Director Jaschke of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources speaks to the high demand for the #Lawns2Legumes program during #EnviroConferenceCommittee. Thousands of Minnesotans are on the waiting list, wanting to do their part to convert turf lawns to pollinator-friendly habitats.???????? #ProtectPollinators #ForAHealthyThrivingMinnesota
Investing in our Veterans
We’ve found bipartisan compromise in our work recently, notably in our investments for Minnesota’s veterans. Over the last three years, we’ve demonstrated a dedication to ending veteran homelessness in Minnesota, and this bill funds several strategies to continue these efforts. These investments include a grant for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans to establish permanent housing and support for veterans, additional annual funding for short-term housing, and incentives to encourage landlords to take on veterans as tenants.
The bill also includes a bill I co-authored to provide funding to recognize post-9/11-era veterans with service bonuses of up to $2,000. There are approximately 48,000 eligible veterans in Minnesota, over half of whom deployed to combat operations in Afghanistan or Iraq. Minnesota has previously recognized veterans’ service in major wars—including World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War. Gold Star families would also be eligible for these bonuses.
We also approved a bill to distribute the $300 million Minnesota is expected to receive from the National Opioid Settlement which Minnesota signed onto last summer. In 2020, a record 678 Minnesotans lost their lives from an opioid overdose, so this issue has to be a priority. You can read more about the bill here.
Modernizing Minnesota's Liquor Laws
Additionally, the House has addressed issues that have been brought to us by Minnesotans and businesses throughout the state. Bipartisan liquor bills are rarely seen at the legislature, but we were able to pass a significant one in the House this week.
Before the pandemic, the brewery boom we saw throughout the state created a rapidly growing industry and new community gathering spots, but many were restricted by inflexible container laws - restrictions that exacerbated the struggles they faced during the pandemic.
The bill we passed in the House this week would give these breweries, wineries, and distilleries the room to thrive by drastically raising the growler cap, allowing the sale of 4- and 6-packs, and removing the cap on cocktail rooms. The bill now heads to a conference committee to craft a final version, and we’re hoping to deliver this much-needed flexibility to these local businesses this year. You can read more about this bill here.
Session Recap Town Hall
I hope you can join Representative Patty Acomb and me for an upcoming town hall meeting on May 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the Minnetonka Community Center (14600 Minnetonka Blvd). We’ll be recapping the session and discussing the work that remains to be done. Community members will also have a chance to share questions, ideas, and feedback. I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing from you!
Keep in Touch
Please continue to reach out anytime at email@example.com or 651-296-4315 with questions or input. I appreciate hearing from you!