First pieces of legislation pass off Senate floor, advocates rally at the Capitol

The ninth week of the 2019 session wraps up this week, with the legislature having only passed two bills so far. MNLARS funding and a small bonding bill for clean-up of a toxic closed landfill in Andover and technical fixes to construction bonds for Highway 14 and Highway 23 were both passed and signed into law by Governor Walz.

After nine weeks, promises of early passage of a number of agreed upon bills have not transpired. Many of the bills legislative leaders said would pass early, including opioid relief, hands-free driving, full funding for election security, and initiatives to help protect seniors remain unfinished.

Committee highlights from this week include a number of bills addressing mental health issues in rural Minnesota, provisional ballots, an estate tax repeal, and a bill to cut social security taxes. Reinsurance was heard in Finance Committee, a bill to reimburse deputy registrars had a committee hearing, and a bill to punish those who drive too slow in the left lane was also debated.

To raise awareness of the high cost of insulin, Senate DFL legislators held this week an insulin Twitter Town Hall. The purpose was to engage citizens and highlight legislation to address this issue. Advocates also held a MN Insulin for All rally where speakers spoke out against the outrageous increases in the price of insulin in front of a crowd of hundreds.

There were a number of press conferences held this week including Restore the Vote, 100% clean energy initiatives, and cannabis support. Groups that rallied at the Capitol included Housing First, U of M Duluth Bulldogs, Insulin 4 All, the MN Historical Society, the Restore the Vote coalition, and ERA Minnesota in celebration of International Woman’s Day.