Another successful community conversation
It was great to visit with local residents again last Friday, April 16, at the virtual “Community Conversation” that I held along with Rep. Demuth and Rep O’Driscoll. As session winds down, its great to see that residents are interested in what legislation is moving forward at the Capitol. My thanks to all who attended. I look forward to the next community conversation in May.
No masks outside for our kids
Governor Walz and his administration has finally seen some commonsense. Youth sports are important to the mental health of our children and being able to fully participate will do wonders for them as we work to return to normal. The risk of transmission is significantly lower when outdoors, so this commonsense measure should have been put in place long ago. Better late than never. www.health.state.mn.us/index.html.
Senator Howe supports Bipartisan Rural Development, Farmers-Focused Agriculture Bill
Earlier this week the Minnesota Senate passed the Agriculture budget bill to support agriculture, rural development, and rural COVID-19 recovery. The comprehensive legislation is focused on helping Minnesota farmers while spurring innovation in the agriculture industry and provides resources for broadband expansion throughout the state.
We can’t forget about our Minnesotans who live in rural areas.This legislation provides much needed investments and broadband expansion that will allow our rural communities to thrive.
The legislation helps our agricultural community recover from the pandemic by strengthening our Ag sector supply chains and invests in helping more meat processing facilities expand and grow. Ultimately these investments will provide more jobs, improve our processing efficiency, and provide more purchasing options for consumers.
The Senate Agriculture Budget gives historic funding to the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program at $40 million over the next two fiscal years. This funding will develop permanent broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas.
Furthermore, the bill provides a $3.5 million grant to improve biofuel infrastructure by allowing gas stations to sell higher blends of biofuels. This investment helps Minnesota continue to lead the nation in pioneering clean homegrown fuels, like E-15. Additionally, the budget includes grants for farm safety equipment and allows the creation of a grain storage facility safety curriculum. Mental health outreach on farms and additional mental health services are also included, which continues funding for the existing 24-hour crisis hotline.
Senate Republicans continue to pass key budget bills
This is a busy time for the Senate as we work through the last few, critical weeks of session. Budget bills are debated on the floor, cleaned up, and voted through.
Those passed from the Senate last week include the Higher Education budget and the Commerce and Clean Energy budgets, the Agriculture and Rural Development budget, the Jobs and Economic Development, and the Judiciary and Public Safety budget bill.
Yesterday, the Minnesota Senate passed a comprehensive Transportation budget bill that invests billions over the next two years in the state’s transportation infrastructure – without a gas tax, mileage tax, sales tax, or license tab fee increase. Included in this omnibus bill are a number of bills I authored. EV surcharges, and maintaining disability parking – all included in the Transportation bill.
I’m really happy to see these bills factored into the Transportation budget. Minnesotans depend on a robust transportation system and these three bills help fund and enhance that very system.
Another bill Republicans passed yesterday was the Education budget bill to provide school choice for parents and students, improving literacy, adding teachers of color, providing mental health support, and empowering local schools to recover from COVID-19.
Included in the Education budget bill is language I authored that encourages student participation in patriotic societies. This allows representatives from patriotic societies like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts the opportunity to speak with students during the school day and provides information about how the patriotic organization supports educational interests and civic involvement.
It is no secret students, parents, and teachers have had a difficult year. Our education budget provides the resources needed to help everyone recover from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, while investing in innovative new programs to help us improve the fundamentals.
Senate majority passes Public Safety Budget keeps Minnesotans safe, holds criminals accountable
The Minnesota Senate passed the Judiciary and Public Safety budget bill to prioritize the funding of programs for domestic abuse shelters, crime victim services, emergency communications, and 911 services.
A major advancement included in the bill will close the “intoxication loophole” brought to light by a Supreme Court ruling that overturned a sexual assault conviction because the victim was voluntarily inebriated. Senate Republicans have consistently supported and created stronger laws to combat sexual assault and to bring awareness to victims of sexual assault.
One of government’s most fundamental obligations is making sure people feel safe in their homes and protected in their communities. This public safety budget provides the resources we need to keep people safe, and to make sure perpetrators of horrible crimes are brought to justice.
Increased penalties on child pornography, sex trafficking and solicitation of children, and child torture
Harsher penalties for individuals selling fentanyl
Increased probation funding to supervise and protect communities where offenders live
Expansion of alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders
Appropriation for the “Healthy Start Act,” a temporary release program for pregnant and postpartum inmates
Senate Republicans are committed to ensuring Minnesota’s constitutionally required public safety responsibilities are met through a robust Judiciary budget. In the 2020 Special Session, Senate Republicans passed a widely supported, bipartisan package of common-sense reforms for Minnesota law enforcement. That legislation included a chokehold ban, duty to intervene, training on crisis response and flexibility, and many other reforms to ensure the safety of our officers and Minnesotans.
Senate Republicans continue commitment to protect Minnesotans and fund law enforcement
On Monday, the Minnesota Senate passed emergency funding for law enforcement, as requested by Governor Walz. The bill, S.F. 2441, secures $2.75 million for the law enforcement response to civil unrest through the Interstate Emergency Management Assistance Compact and $6.3 million for Minnesota State Trooper expenses related to the unrest and Chauvin trial.
Earlier this session, the Senate passed legislation funding for the Law Enforcement Operations Account (LEO), committing to keep Minnesotans safe by securing resources for emergency law enforcement operations tied to extraordinary and unplanned emergency events.
House Democrats failed to pass the bill or Governor Walz’s version of the legislation, known as SAFE. Additionally, House -Democrats have not introduced any of their own provisions regarding emergency police funding, jeopardizing the safety of residents of the Twin Cities and hindering law enforcement’s ability to respond to emergency events.
Monday’s legislation is the byproduct of a public safety conversation between legislative leaders and the Governor, the weekend. Legislative leaders all agreed with the importance of getting the bill done at the time of the request.
The bill now goes to the House for consideration.
Senator Jeff Howe
3235 Minnesota Senate Building
95 University Avenue West
Saint Paul, MN 55155
Tel: (651) 296-2084