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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

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Legislative update

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

This week sees the first committee deadline at the Legislature, meaning that bills must be heard by midnight this Friday in order to have a better chance of advancing through the legislative process. 

There were some long nights and great opportunities to move forward several of the bills I am carrying this session. This update covers a few that were heard this week:  
Peace Officer Excellence Task Force

The House Public Safety Committee heard my bill on establishing a Peace Officer Excellence Task Force this week. 

The vast majority of peace officers serve our community well every day, but on the rare occasions when an officer breaks the public trust in a significant manner, there needs to be clear systems in place to hold those officers accountable. Unfortunately, our current system allows too many police officers that seriously betray the public trust to avoid serious consequences. This is unfair to the vast majority of police officers that serve our community valiantly every day. 

The opportunity for a Peace Office Excellence Task Force specifically arises from a recent State Supreme Court ruling where a City of Richfield Police Officer who struck a Somali youth in the head and then failed to report this use-of-force was reinstated after the city took action to terminate his employment.  

It’s my hope that a Peace Officer Excellence Task Force can bring law enforcement stakeholders, legislators and community members together to take a look at the systems in place, policies and standards that help us continue to strengthen the relationship between the public and our peace officers.   

Preserving Manufactured Home Ownership

Preserving and improving our manufactured home communities throughout Minnesota is an important element of our work to address the affordable housing crisis in Minnesota.

That is why I am authoring HF 1571, a bill to eliminate barriers to help residents buy their manufactured home park communities rather than face displacement when a park is sold to a developer. Antonia Alvarez shared her story with the committee about Lowry Grove, where Minnesotans lost their home because our current "right of first refusal" statute has too many loopholes. This bill passed our first committee and I'm hopeful we can move it forward this session.  

Investing in MICC – a gem for our community and state

The Minnesota Independence College and Community (MICC) is an amazing resource in our community and state, and I’m proud to carry legislation to invest in the school.  

MICC is a vocational and life skills training program for young adults with autism spectrum disorders and learning differences. They have an amazing track-record of success in helping their students secure independence, careers, and lifelong skills. 

In addition to the transformational education they provide, a study completed by Wilder Research just a week ago, showed that the return on investment to Minnesota’s economy is strong. For every $1 the state invests in MICC, the return on investment is $72. 

I presented this bipartisan legislation in the House Higher Education Committee this week, where Signe, a student at MICC stole the show with her fantastic testimony. I am grateful for MICC and all they do for our community and state.