Rep. Peggy Flanagan Update: March 24, 2017

Dear neighbors,

With policy deadlines past, we have now entered the part of the session that focuses primarily on building a budget that reflects the needs and values of Minnesota families. From this point forward, we will need to negotiate with Republicans in order to invest in education, health care, and working families.

As you may have noticed, I’ve also decided to change up the format of my legislative updates. Who says emails from legislators have to be boring? (more…)

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Sen. Ron Latz Update: March 23, 2017

CAPITOL UPDATE MARCH 24, 2017

This past week, a Star Tribune article titled “Student loan defaults soar as millions miss payments” highlighted that over 14% of young people have fallen behind on student loan payments this past year. Two bills, SF 156 and SF 165, being considered in the Senate right now, would go a long way in mitigating a future student debt crisis.

One bill I authored, the Minnesota College Affordability Act (SF 156), would enable all of Minnesota high school graduates to attend 2- and 4-year public colleges, universities, and technical schools by providing tuition-free education for families earning under $125,000. This bold plan ignites a much needed discussion about our society’s commitment to higher education. Our state will fall behind if we do not seek to better educate and equip our learners for 21st century careers. The College Affordability Act grants apply after all existing state and federal grants and requires students to maintain a 2.5 GPA in college. (more…)

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Rep. Cheryl Youakim Update: March 20, 2017

Rep. Cheryl Youakim (46B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

Last week was second deadline week, which is when all policy bills must have passed through all their required committees in both the House and the Senate by Friday, March 17 at 5:00 p.m. Technically, a bill is “dead” for the session if it has not met those requirements.  A senator or representative can offer their bill as an amendment to an omnibus bill or on the floor. Or, they can make their case to the Rules Committee to why their bill should still be heard after deadlines. Many times, those techniques only work if you are in the majority. (more…)

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Rep. Cheryl Youakim Update: March 13, 2017

Rep. Cheryl Youakim (46B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

Last week we had four days of floor session. On Monday, we took up the bill to restructure the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. You can read about that below. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we met briefly to move bills from one committee to the next. Last Friday was the first policy committee deadline. All bills dealing with policy had to be through all of their required committees in either the House or the Senate. This coming Friday, March 17, is the second policy deadline when the bills have to do the same in the opposite body.

As you are reading this, we are meeting on the House floor to discuss and vote on the “re-insurance” bill. Reinsurance is insurance purchased by an insurance company from another source (in this case the State of Minnesota) to mitigate risk from high claim consumers. Under this bill, the state would reimburse insurance companies for some of their high cost claims. (more…)

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Rep. Peggy Flanagan Update: March 8, 2017

Rep. Peggy Flanagan (46A) – Legislative Update

Dear neighbor,

This week our budget work begins in earnest, as we have just received the updated budget forecast. Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Dayton, we are no longer running a budget deficit. In fact, we now have a projected $1.65 billion surplus. What we do with that money should reflect the needs and values of Minnesotans.

Here are a few other things to know this week:

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS FOR WOMEN

In Health and Human Services Reform committee, we heard two bills that would undermine women’s reproductive rights in Minnesota. (more…)

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Rep. Cheryl Youakim Update: March 6, 2017

Rep. Cheryl Youakim (46B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

Last week we had floor sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Monday and Wednesday were quick sessions with a non-controversial bill and motions to move bills from one committee to the next. Thursday evening we heard HF600, known as the preemption bill.

We debated the preemption bill from 3:30 -11:00 p.m. with a short recess so that the House Health & Human Services Committee could take up a controversial bill on licensing clinics that provide abortion services. Earlier in the day, the committee chair publicly announced that they would finish their work after session. But, GOP leadership decided not to announce the new time until 15 minutes before the committee was to reconvene. This is not a transparent way to do legislative business. (more…)

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Rep. Cheryl Youakim Update: February 27, 2017

Rep. Cheryl Youakim (46B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

Last week, we met on the House floor Monday, Wednesday & Thursday. Monday was devoted to the vote on Sunday liquor sales while Thursday’s debate of the bill to implement Real ID filled most of our three hour floor session. During the day on Wednesday, we met for a brief floor session. In the evening we met in a joint session, with the Senate, to elect the four individuals for positions on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. You can read more about the details below.

On Tuesday, I had a hearing on my bill regarding free electronic filing of individual Minnesota income taxes. My bill, HF433, appropriates money to the Department of Revenue so that they can compile information and present a report to the legislature on what parameters must be in place for individuals to file their basic individual income tax online for free. Currently Minnesotans must pay to go through a vendor to file their taxes on-line unless they are under a certain income threshold. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the State Government Finance Omnibus Bill. If you like the idea of filing your income taxes online for free, please share your thoughts with Chair Sarah Anderson here. (more…)

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Sen. Latz Update: February 24, 2017

Friday, February 24th, 2017

Dear Neighbor,

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.

Regards,

Ron Latz

Capitol Update

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. 

Committee Progress

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.

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