Week Four: January 31, 2019

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  • Minnesota Senate continues work in spite of cold weather

    Week four of the 2019 Legislative Session kicked off with a joint Senate and House press conference on the legalization of recreational cannabis. The issue of cannabis legalization is one that is moving fast around the country. Their goal is to secure a legislative hearing and to begin the discussion on this issue.

    The Minnesota Department of Revenue started accepting tax returns on Monday, Jan. 28. The deadline for filing taxes is April 15.

    The family of Steve Rummler, whose HOPE Network has been advocating to raise awareness and to pass legislation to address the opioid addiction crisis, held a press conference this week. They were joined by advocates and a bipartisan group of legislators carrying bills to address this crisis.

    With the record cold weather, many committees canceled their hearings in the middle of the week. Despite the cold, committees still heard a continuation of overviews, reviewed ways the state can reduce TEFRA costs for families, and looked at proposals to strengthen sexual assault laws.

    A number of groups held events and rallies at the capitol this week, including a Don’t Punish the Pain rally, Opioid Awareness Day rally, and MinnState colleges and universities Innovation Day. ABATE held their Annual Biker Day, and Minnesota Milk hosted an ice cream social.

    The week closed out with the kick off of Black History month on Friday, February 1, to honor the contributions of African-Americans to United States history. The National Black History Month theme for 2019 is “Black Migration.”

    Session will continue to pick up speed as legislation works its way through committees.

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    Blazing a path forward for recreational cannabis in Minnesota

    Legislation legalizing recreational cannabis was introduced on Monday, detailing the regulatory framework and addressing the revenue collection from the sale of recreational cannabis in Minnesota (SF 619).

    Financial lifeline for furloughed workers

    A press conference last week focused on legislation to provide financial relief for thousands of Minnesotans forced to live without paychecks due to the government shutdown

    Advocates bring opioid awareness to the Capitol

    Opioid advocates held a press conference, rally, and a hearing this week to raise awareness and advance bipartisan legislation to combat the opioid addiction and overdose crisis. According to the bill’s authors, opioids have become a public health emergency in the state.

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    Agriculture update on noxious weeds and invasive pests

    The Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Policy Committee heard an update on Palmer amaranth, emerald ash borers, and gypsy moths to eradicate and limit the spread of these pests.

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    Food stand bill received first committee hearing

    The Health and Human Services Committee heard a proposal last week that would exempt from licensure any temporary food stands operated by youth under 14 years of age.

    Lawmakers talk prescription drug transparency

    The Health and Human Services committee this week heard a bipartisan proposal to license key players in the pharmaceutical industry called pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

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    Legislature needs to improve sexual assault policies

    An investigative report from the Star Tribune in 2018 showed that fewer than one in 10 reported sexual assaults produce a conviction. As a result of this report, the attorney general’s office was directed to create a working group to look at the state’s sexual assault policies.

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    Tax filing season now open

    Minnesota and the federal government both began accepting 2018 income tax returns on Monday, Jan. 28. Taxpayers have until Monday, April 15 to file and pay state and federal income taxes.

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    Hearing scheduled for legislation to extend Metro Mobility services

    A bill to extend Metro Mobility services to the city of Lakeville through the Met Council transit taxing district is scheduled to receive a hearing next week. Metro Mobility provides rides to seniors and residents with disabilities throughout the metro area for a modest fee.