I hope that you’re staying warm as winter approaches! This update includes information about opportunities to be involved in decision making as well as what’s been keeping me busy at the Capitol.
Climate Action Caucus Community Conversations
The Climate Action Caucus recently held a community conversation about the intersection of housing and climate. Nearly half of all households have to forego other necessities to pay heating bills at some point in the year. Yet we weatherize only 1,600 of 125,000 eligible homes in Minnesota each year. We have a lot to do to improve efficiency and lower the energy burden for low-income households and communities of color.
On Wednesday, we hosted a conversation dedicated to public health. We listened to several sobering presentations about the health effects of climate change. Doctors, nurses, and public health experts across Minnesota are seeing intensified problems with asthma and allergies and higher rates of heat-related and tick-borne illnesses. These health threats disproportionately impact low-income people and communities of color.
Please visit our new website to learn more about the Climate Action Caucus! If you’d like to receive updates on our work and upcoming community conversations, you can sign up here.
Cold Weather Resources
Resources are available for Minnesotans who struggle to afford their heating bills. The Cold Weather Rule, which went into effect last month, helps protect people from having their heat shut off when they need it the most. There are also energy assistance programs to help renters and homeowners pay for heating costs and furnace repairs.
More information about the Cold Weather Rule is available here, and you can read more about the Energy Assistance Program here. Please share this information with family, friends, and neighbors and remember to watch out for one another this winter.
CEEM Clean Energy Legislative Champion Award
On Monday, Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM) presented me with their 2019 Clean Energy Legislative Champion Award! The award was given in recognition of my work on clean energy, particularly my leadership on 100 percent and C-PACE, a program that provides financing for energy-efficient buildings. It’s an honor to be recognized, and I’ll continue to work on moving our state forward on the path to clean energy.
Minnesota Energy Innovation Bus Tour
The Legislative Energy Commission, which I’m the co-chair of, recently visited several sites where energy innovation is happening right here in Minnesota! We toured Connexus Energy, the nation’s largest solar and storage facility; a Tesla plant that makes robots and other equipment used to manufacture cars; and the Mid-Continent Independent System Operator, the control center for much of our energy grid. The bus tour was a great opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at these sites, and I’m looking forward to using what we learned as we develop new legislation.
Protecting Our Democracy
Only 58 percent of Minnesota Republicans say that they’ll definitely vote for President Trump, but his name will be the only one on their primary ballot in March. A small group of Minnesota Republican Party leaders has decided not to list President Trump’s opponents, effectively limiting the choices of Minnesota voters. That’s not democracy, and Rep. Ray Dehn and I want to fix it. We’re drafting legislation that would allow candidates to be listed if they file an affidavit and pay a fee. This system works well for our Senate and governor races, and Minnesota has previously used this system for presidential primaries. Rep. Dehn and I will introduce this legislation when the Legislature reconvenes in February.
If you’d like to read more about our proposal, the Star Tribune published a piece about it here.
Probation Cap Advances
Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell and the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission recently voted to advance a five year cap on probation terms! This is an important step because Minnesota’s probation system is ineffective and failing basic tests of fairness. Our state ranks fifth in the nation in terms of length of probation, and people still receive 20, 30, or even 40 year terms that often make it harder for them to rejoin their communities. There are also significant racial and regional disparities. I introduced legislation to cap probation at five years that passed in the House but was blocked by Senate Republicans.
The Sentencing Guidelines Commission must hear public input before taking a final vote. If you’d like to see criminal justice reform, please show your support by attending the public hearing or submitting a comment.
What: Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission Public Hearing
When: Thursday, December 19 at 1:30 p.m.
Where: Minnesota Senate Building – Room 1100, 95 University Avenue W., St. Paul, MN 55155
Windom Students Visit the Capitol
A few weeks ago I welcomed 100 second graders from Windom School to the State Capitol! Their top suggestions for me to work on included bullying, longer recess, no kids working in mines, texting while driving, and being nice to teachers.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, feedback, or ideas, and feel free to forward this email on to others who may be interested in receiving these updates. You can reach me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-5375. I look forward to hearing from you!