Legislative Update – March 17, 2023
Last week, I joined Department of Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold, Senate Climate Chair Nick Frentz, and advocates from climate groups, labor unions, and energy providers to push for our bill to create a State Competitiveness Energy Fund, which was heard in the Ways and Means Committee this week and is headed to the House floor for a final vote!
President Biden’s IIJA and IRA legislation unlocked billions of federal dollars for a transition to a clean economy. This fund would make sure we can compete with other states for those projects and ensure that no community in Minnesota is left behind. You can read more about the press conference and competitiveness fund here.
Minnetonka Projects in Capital Investment Bill
Last session, a bipartisan agreement was reached on the framework of legislation to invest in local jobs and projects throughout Minnesota, but like many important proposals, Republican leadership chose to walk away instead of completing this work.
Efforts to deliver on that legislation never stopped for DFLers, and now the Minnesota House has taken the first bipartisan step in finishing the business of 2022 by approving nearly $1.9 billion in investments for local jobs and projects throughout the state.
Projects like a new off-street trail along Hopkins Crossroad (CSAH 73) in Minnetonka, and funding for a public space—including a dog park, amphitheater, play area, and plaza—next to the Southwest LRT Opus station. The parks and trails projects in this bill will make our community of Minnetonka a better place to live and raise a family. Thank you to the Sun Sailor for covering this bill.
This week, Senate Republicans voted against the same compromise bipartisan bill that 21 House Republicans voted for this month. I urge Senate Republicans to reconsider and vote in support of this bill which funds critical jobs projects all across the state.
Climate and Energy Committee Update
Last week, the Climate and Energy Committee, which I chair, heard my bill to update Minnesota’s 2007 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals to establish a 50 percent reduction target by 2030 and a net zero target by 2050. Leading climate scientists have made it clear that these are the benchmarks we need to reach to avoid climate change's worst impacts. I believe we have opportunities to incentivize the behavior we want to see from our energy sector, and setting these goals is an important step in that work.
We also heard legislation that would expand an energy assistance program for low-income Minnesotans. Lower-income houses are disproportionately burdened by energy costs, and with our surplus, we can work to ease that burden. This week, we passed legislation that would convert closed landfills into sites for solar arrays, which could transform over 4,500 acres of otherwise unusable land into 950 megawatts of solar—or enough to power 100,000 Minnesota homes. This is a creative way to deploy more clean energy and strengthen our grid.
Finally, we heard my bill to expand our existing community solar garden program. In Minnesota, we were pioneers of the community solar program and I believe we can expand this by removing barriers and expanding access to attract low and moderate-income Minnesotans to participate in this great program.
Last week, The Minnesota House unanimously passed a bill that would enhance child welfare protections under the 1985 Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act, known as MIFPA. The legislation also affirms the state’s policy on Tribal-state relations, including the recognition of Tribes as sovereign nations and the recognition that Tribes have the inherent authority to determine their own jurisdiction for Indian child custody or child placement proceedings.
This Thursday, the House DFL passed legislation to provide emergency rental assistance to Minnesotans facing housing insecurity. The cost of rent and the number of evictions are increasing at a time when the protections and resources provided at the height of the pandemic are going away. We must deliver a lifeline to families as we continue our work to address the state’s housing crisis.
Staying in touch
Please reach out if you have any questions or feedback you would like to share. You can contact me by email at email@example.com or call (651) 296-9934.