The legislature is at the halfway point of the 2019 session, with the first committee deadline closing out the week. The first deadline requires policy bills to have had their first hearing in the committee of origin unless the companion bill in the House has been heard. Finance, tax, and capital investment bills do not have to meet this deadline. As this deadline passes, many bills that benefit Minnesotans have been denied hearings.
The theme in the Republican-controlled Senate seems to be blocking legislation most Minnesotans want, including stable funding for transportation, fair funding for education, common-sense gun violence prevention laws and safety in schools, restoring the right to vote for thousands of Minnesotans, a real conversation on the legalization of cannabis, paid family leave, restoring the 7% cut to home and community support providers, and a bonding bill to address critical infrastructure needs. Senate Republicans also refuse to hear bills to expand access to affordable health care, including expanding MinnesotaCare and reviewing OneCare – programs that help people not insurance companies, and full funding for voting security. It’s unfortunate that the opioid, elder abuse, and hands-free legislation that were promised to be heard and passed quickly have stalled. Additionally, bills to address the skyrocketing cost of insulin have not been heard, and legislation for school mental health and counselors have been refused hearings along with bills to increase teachers of color and the ERA. Despite passing with strong momentum in the House, these bills haven’t seen the light of day in the Senate.
Instead, the Republican-led Senate seems more interested in proposing extreme legislation that would give insurance companies hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars through reinsurance, tie the hands of local governments and prevent them from moving forward on ideas like a $15 minimum wage to prevent working Minnesotans from living in poverty, and restrictive anti-choice bills that would tell women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. They are also wasting valuable committee time on naming a state horse, fining people for driving slowly, abolishing daylight savings time, and hearing bills with no companions in the House, with no chance of passing, just to make political statements for their base.
It seems apparent that in a divided government, if there is a group of people who want to shut down conversations on just about everything, set the state up for a shutdown and even a special session, Republicans are proving to be capable of doing just that.
Hundreds of students, mothers, and other advocates joined together at the Capitol this week, in support of DFL legislation for gun violence prevention in the state of Minnesota. The event was organized by the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action and the Everytown Survivor Network to urge the Minnesota Senate to hold hearings on two bills that would require criminal background checks on gun sales in Minnesota and enact red flag laws.
Moms Demand Action is a nationwide grassroots movement advocating for public safety measures that protect people from gun violence. Like the other 49 chapters across the country, Minnesota’s Moms Demand Action seeks stronger solutions to the casual gun laws and loopholes that have normalized gun violence and threatened public safety nationwide.