Statement from Senator Howe following tragedy in Buffalo
My thoughts and prayers are for the victims, their families, the city of Buffalo, and all who are suffering from this tragedy. I also thank the brave law enforcement and medical staff who provided an immediate response to take the suspect into custody and save lives. There are not enough words to express the gratitude we have for those who step up and run into harm’s way. I know the community will come together to support one another in this difficult time.
We keep hearing a lot from the Governor and the Department of Education about distance learning, but I want to hear from YOU. How is distance learning going for your family? What worked, what didn’t, the highs, the lows, all of it. Let me know. (See my contact information at the end of this article.)
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is working to adopt a new rule to reduce vehicle emissions and make more electric vehicles available to consumers in Minnesota, known as the Clean Cars Minnesota rulemaking.
The current open comment period closes on March 15, 2021.
There are two methods you can use to ask questions, share your feedback, and voice your opinion during this comment period. You can choose one or use both methods outlined below:
• Method #1: Submit written comments to Judge Palmer-Denig.
Write your question or comment down and submit through the Office of Administrative Hearings e-comments website at minnesotaoah.granicusideas.com or by fax or mail according to the instructions in the public notice.
Step-by-step instructions for how to submit a comment and attach documents is available on the Office of Administrative hearings website. Directions for using the rulemaking e-comments website are at mn.gov.
All comments regarding the proposed rule must be sent to the administrative law judge (ALJ), Judge Palmer-Denig, to be included in the official rulemaking record.
• Method #2: Submit a comment at the public hearing.
You also have an opportunity to attend the public hearing online and ask your question, share your suggested changes, or voice your opinions there. Judge Palmer-Denig will conduct the hearing using Webex beginning at 3 p.m. Feb. 22 and 23. Links to attend via Webex are included in the public notice at pca.state.mn.us.
Whether you submit a written comment or give testimony at the public hearing, your feedback will be considered equally by the ALJ.
Senate Republicans hold press conference to introduce an increase in funding for Traumatic Brain Injury research
On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Senate Republicans held a press conference to introduce a budget increase for the Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Grant (SCI and TBI) program. This legislation seeks to increase the budget for this grant program from $3 million to $5 million per year, in an effort to expand the program’s reach to more people living with paralysis.
In 2017, with funding from private donors, Mayo Clinic became the first medical center in the world to validate paralysis recovery results using a spinal neuromodulation treatment, and the first patient in that clinical trial walked independently for more than 100 yards. Funding for this research came in two parts: half from the state’s SCI and TBI research grant program, and the other half came from private donors. At the end of last month, Governor Walz released his budget which included a recommendation for eliminating the funding for this program.
The bill was heard in the Human Services Reform committee following the press conference.
Watch the press conference and committee hearing on Facebook.
Senate passes legislation increasing the number of COVID vaccine administers
On Monday, Feb. 8, the Minnesota Senate passed legislation allowing dentists to administer the flu and the COVID vaccine to patients with vaccine training. The legislation chief-authored by Senator Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake) gives Minnesota additional flexibility with its vaccination plan, particularly in rural communities.
Current law allows for trained dentists to administer the flu vaccine to patients 19 years old and older. This bill enables dentists to administer the flu and the COVID vaccine to patients 16 years old and older with vaccine training.
Although currently there is a lack of available COVID vaccine in Minnesota, adding dentists to those able to administer the vaccine will increase accessibility as more vaccine becomes available.
Senator Jeff Howe introduces bill to increase transportation funding
On Tuesday, Feb. 9, I presented Senate File 625 – the Auto Parts Sales Tax bill in the Transportation Committee. This legislation seeks to increase funding towards the state’s transportation budget, without raising taxes.
We need to take a hard look at our transportation funding. The current flat amount of funding just isn’t sufficient. If we want to keep up with maintaining our roads, highways, and bridges, we need to adjust the funding so it continues to grow over time.
Under current law, every year, a flat amount of $145,644 million is taken from the auto parts sales tax and given to the Highway Users Tax Distribution Fund (HUTDF). This HUTDF funding supports highways, roads, and streets across the state. This bill would adjust that amount to 60% of auto parts sales tax funds, so that the Transportation fund continues to grow over time. 54% of funding would go to HUTDF, 3% would go to the Small Cities Account, and 3% would go to the Townships Road Account.
Our local communities and townships need these funds. The Governor released his budget last month and he failed to address transportation funding. His proposal was to do nothing. Our roads are in bad shape, and this bill ensures they get adequate steady funding to give our roads the attention they’ve been needing for years.
Senator Howe creates legislation to encourage veteran employment
Today, I presented Senate File 683 in the Veterans and Military Committee. This bill would provide a tax credit to businesses that hire veterans. Specifically, the tax credit would be available to businesses that hire disabled or unemployed veterans. The employee needs to be a resident of Minnesota. The bill also defines, for the purposes of this credit, the definition of disabled veteran as a veteran who has had a compensable service-connected disability; it also defines an unemployed veteran as a veteran who received unemployment compensation at any time one year prior to the hire and was unemployed at the time of hire. The credit for hiring a disabled veteran shall not exceed $3,000, and the credit for hiring an unemployed veteran shall not exceed $1,500. Finally, the bill is effective for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2020.
This bill passed the Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee and has been referred to the Tax Committee.
Below is just some of the legislation I have chief-authored so far this session:
• Senate File 0830: Department of transportation pavement use policy.
• Senate File 0785: Real property appraisers continuing education, evaluations, and standards of conduct modifications.
• Senate File 0683: veterans jobs income tax.
• Senate File 0625: General sales tax revenue from motor vehicle repair and replacement parts allocation modification.
Please visit revisor.mn.gov to find all of the legislation I have introduced this session.
These are trying times for all, and I have been reminded time and time again how blessed I am to represent the people of District 13. I am grateful for each of my constituents, and I look forward to connecting with you. Please reach out to me through email, phone, or I would be happy to meet in district or at the Capitol. Your voice is important to me, and it is my mission for you to be heard.
You can reach me at (651) 296-2084 or email email@example.com.
Senator Jeff Howe
3235 Minnesota Senate Building
95 University Avenue West
Saint Paul, MN 55155
Tel: (651) 296-2084