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.
Minnesotans lose the right to vote until they have been released from probation or supervision, even while they are living in the community and never spent any time in prison or only served a short sentence. This unfair law disenfranchises more than 53,000 Minnesotans as they are unable to vote due to a felony conviction on their record.
A set of policy proposals introduced this week by Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan will lead Minnesota to 100% clean energy in the state’s electricity sectors by 2050. This three-part plan — called the One Minnesota Path to Clean Energy — builds on the successes Minnesota has already had in reducing its dependence on fossil fuels and increasing its use of clean energy.
Members of Minnesota Veterans for Cannabis held a press conference this week in support of legislation which seeks to increase accessibility for veterans looking to benefit from the state’s medical marijuana program. Speakers promoted medical marijuana not only as a viable source of pain relief for the veterans who might choose to enroll, but also as a valuable alternative to opioids and other addictive forms of pain relief medication.
Secretary of State Steve Simon re-released a comprehensive 20-point plan this week for utilizing the $6.6 million of federal election security funding allocated to Minnesota through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
DFL Senate and House members joined advocates, health care experts, and patients outside the Capitol and online for a Twitter townhall this week, to raise awareness around the critical need for improved access to insulin and other prescription drugs in Minnesota.