Friday, February 24th, 2017
Before we start with the week in review, I wanted to mention the Minnesota Capitol bust fundraiser that is currently underway for Nellie Stone Johnson, local civil rights and labor leader. Nellie was mentored by my grandfather, Rubin Latz, a Minnesota labor leader in the 1930s-40s. She in turn mentored my father, Bob Latz, who served in the legislature from 1958-66. I used to sit chatting with Nellie over her seamstress counter downtown. She richly deserves the Capitol recognition, but the funds are still a bit short.
The deadline is fast-approaching for the private contribution match to our state funding for the Capitol bust statue and we are only a few thousand dollars short. Click here to contribute online or if you prefer to mail a donation, send it to: Nellie Stone Johnson Capitol Fund, Union Bank, 312 Central Av. SE, Minneapolis, 55414.
Ricardo Lopez also recently wrote about this in the Star Tribune.
Gun Violence Prevention Press Conference: A broad range of advocates coming together.
Yesterday, I joined Senator Jeff Hayden and his family to discuss what Minnesota must do to prevent senseless gun deaths. Senator Hayden tragically lost his own younger sister to gun violence this past year—she is one of many innocent bystanders that have lost their lives to gun violence. She was simply with friends dancing, enjoying an evening out, when a gun battle broke out and innocent civilians were used as shields. We will forever remember Taylor’s memory and will advocate for the Taylor Hayden Gun Violence Prevention Act. This act will contribute $200,000 each year to organizations that are attempting to end gun violence in our communities.
In this press conference, Senator Hayden and I were joined by other legislators, community leaders, county prosecutors, metro chiefs of police, hunters, doctors, and other various community leaders about the need for sensible gun reform. I was proud to be surrounded by these fellow patriots. We spoke to the fear-based misinformation that is unfortunately utilized to stymie any real debate of the facts. Frankly, I know I was tired of yet another press conference on this subject with no action in sight by the legislature. It’s true that 82% of Minnesotans support universal background checks (Star Tribune 1/25/16) and yet our legislators sit on their hands.
Here’s John Croman’s story on Taylor Hayden and the legislative initiatives on Kare 11 News yesterday.
This is the legislative period that is most active for any proposed policy changes. Committees are vetting bills for policy support and to make sure the language, if enacted, would serve Minnesotans well from a technical standpoint. Virtually all bills, prior to debate on the Senate Floor, have to be heard by committees with the relevant policy jurisdiction on that matter. My work on the Judiciary Committee and Commerce Committee is very important to allow for a product to be presentable on the Floor.
The Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill this week that would allow for Sunday off-sale (package store) liquor sales in Minnesota. We are currently one of 12 states that prohibit the sale of liquor on Sundays. The bill allows for the sale of liquor on Sundays between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. It also prohibits the wholesale delivery of alcohol to off-sale licensees on Sundays.
After much deliberation, I supported this bill in the Commerce Committee even though I remained very concerned with our small liquor stores in our community and around that state. The religious origin behind this blue law had always bothered me—I believe religious edicts do not have a place in secular governance. And, I have heard more on this topic from constituent feedback in recent years than any other issue. Constituents shared with me that consumer convenience is their top priority. As an elected state senator, I want to represent the views of my community to the best of my ability and therefore I plan to vote for the bill on the floor on Monday.
Regent Selection Results
The House and Senate elected two new faces to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and approved full six-year terms for two incumbents. The House and Senate met in joint session on Wednesday night. I supported Ken Powell, Tom Devine, Sandra Krebsbach, and David McMillan for at-large, 3rd District, 2nd District, and 8th District seats, respectively.
These also happened to be the candidates the University of Minnesota students put forth in their slate. Ken Powell, who has an extensive history in our local community as chairman and CEO of General Mills is a tremendous choice made by the body. He will bring immense talent in leadership and organizational knowledge that he learned during his time with one the preeminent companies headquartered in our state.
These candidates, whether they were selected or not, deserve our appreciation for their efforts in the intensive selection process. I would have preferred to see more diversity in our appointments. And I believe in the value of the Regents Candidate Advisory Council’s process. We had one regent selected who had completely bypassed this extensive and informative process.
The following candidates were ultimately elected by the House and Senate:
- CD 2: Steve Sviggum
- CD 3 Darrin Rosha (Incumbent)
- CD 8: David McMillan (Incumbent)
- At-Large: Ken Powell
Finally, I have had many fantastic constituents come visit me regarding issues of concern to them: JRLC, Physical Therapists, rental car companies, Teamsters Local 320, American Council for Engineering Companies, truckers association, Alzheimer’s Association, dental hygienists, and Minnesota 350! Thank you all for stopping by and chatting with me.