Today, the Minnesota Senate adjourned after a prolonged special session intended to approve Commissioner appointments. Last week, the Legislature finished passing all of the budget bills needed to avoid a government shutdown.
After adjournment, Senator Ann Johnson Stewart (DFL-Minnetonka) released the following statement:
“I’m pleased that we did our collective job as legislators by avoiding a shutdown. As the only divided legislature in the country, policy compromises were inevitable. However, it would have been a true dereliction of duty to waste taxpayer funds and harm many Minnesotans’ lives and livelihoods with a shutdown.”
“While there are good provisions in each budget bill that will directly and materially improve the lives of Minnesotans, thanks largely to the passionate advocacy of my Senate and House DFL colleagues, we could have aimed higher and done far more with our resources. We have a long way to go before we have secured a truly safe and sustainable future for our state, and I’m committed to continuing that work.”
Johnson Stewart highlighted several specific budget bill provisions:
“As a member of the Transportation Committee as well as a civil engineer with decades of experience in the transportation industry, I’m disappointed in our budget bill’s lack of forward-thinking vision and long-term planning, but I’m nonetheless pleased with the many quality items it includes, from ending the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for non-safety-related matters to providing more funding for Safe Routes to School. I’m especially looking forward to the results of two important grants whose inclusion in the bill I helped secure alongside several local partners: $250,000 for an analysis of potential Bus Rapid Transit implementation in the Highway 55 corridor between Medina and Minneapolis, which extends across the entirety of Plymouth, and $300,000 to the I-494 Corridor Commission to support their development of a telework implementation process that can be used by businesses throughout the entire state. ”
“As a longtime educator, I’m particularly grateful for my DFL colleagues’ successful efforts to secure new formula funding for public schools in the Education budget bill, representing a far larger investment in public education than was proposed by Senate Republicans, and for our removal of voucher provisions that would have taken money from public schools to pay for private education. More funding for Voluntary Pre-kindergarten and for Teachers of Color Incentive programs are also significant steps in the right direction.”
“Additionally, a bright spot in the Judiciary and Public Safety budget bill, which is otherwise very limited due to my Republican colleagues’ disappointing decision to refuse nearly all serious policing and public safety reforms, is the implementation of sign-and-release warrants, which means Minnesotans will no longer be arrested for missing court dates for minor offenses. These misses are often due to clerical errors and communication mix-ups, for which nobody should be arrested, and this new policy has the additional benefit of supporting the increased safety and efficiency of police officers’ day-to-day work.”
Johnson Stewart concluded by mentioning additional legislative accomplishments as well as her plans for the interim period and next year’s session.
“I’m very proud to have worked alongside my District 44 colleagues in the House, Representative Ginny Klevorn and Representative Patty Acomb, to secure tax relief for city governments in our district. The Tax budget bill included sales tax exemptions for building materials used in public safety facility construction in both Plymouth and Minnetonka, as well as an allowance for tax increment financing in Minnetonka to support ongoing and future developments in the city. I’m thrilled to have such competent and engaged partners in the House!”
“As a member of the Capital Investment Committee, I’m anticipating working on our bonding bill later this year and am hoping to secure the inclusion of bonding project legislation I authored this session – including several important and necessary public works projects inside my district and in neighboring communities. As next year’s legislative session approaches, I will continue to advocate for stringent restrictions on copper-sulfide mining in Minnesota. This includes my bill that would require any mine permittee to pay the Financial Assurance fees which fund any reclamation or cleanup actions the state might be forced to take as a result of the mine. These fees would be paid up-front at the time of the permit’s issuance, in cash, and in full.”
“In the interim, I’m excited to continue my series of infrastructure tours to highlight the function and importance of our state’s typically-unheralded public works industry and am especially looking forward to joining several of my legislative colleagues on job sites and at facilities in their districts.”