Thank you to those of you who took time to come to the Capitol this week to visit with me about issues that are important to you. If you are planning on being in St. Paul in the near future, please do not hesitate to contact me to set up a time to visit. I would love to meet with you!
Bill Authorizing the Production of Industrial Hemp Clears First Committee
My bill, House File 683, which would authorize the production of industrial hemp and establish a state regulatory structure for its production, received its first hearing and was passed by the Agriculture Policy Committee on Wednesday with bipartisan support.
I am excited that this pro-jobs bill passed through the Ag Policy Committee with such broad support. Minnesota has an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of an emerging industry that will have exceptional benefits for Greater Minnesota and our state as a whole. Not only would it open new opportunities for farmers and those in the agriculture industry, it would move our state toward allowing for local sourcing of many products made from hemp fibers. These fibers can be used in textiles, rope, food, clothing, paper, insulation, and building materials.
Protecting our Most Vulnerable
On Monday, House File 8, was debated by the House and passed on a unanimous 130-0 vote. HF 8, authored by Rep. Ron Kresha, makes policy changes to Minnesota’s child protection system. The changes in this bill are two of the recommendations that came from the Governor’s 26 person task force on child protection that was assembled last year following the tragic killing of 4 year-old Starbuck resident Eric Dean.
The bill contains two provisions:
•Places child health and safety as the paramount concern when making child protection decisions.
•Reverses a law passed in 2013 that barred consideration of screened-out reports in investigating abuse reports
This bill is strictly a starting point and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to reform our state’s child protection laws and systems. I am hopeful that my colleagues and I will continue working to see that these laws are reformed in such a way to ensure that the safety of Minnesota’s children is the top priority when dealing with instances of domestic abuse.
February Forecast Numbers Released
Today, legislators received information on the February budget forecast. This budget forecast is important because it gives the legislature a better understanding of the financial situation of the state and helps us craft a budget.
The Office of Minnesota Management & Budget (MMB) revealed that the state now has a nearly $1.9 billion dollar surplus. The same report indicated that the surplus is in large part due to the fact that cheaper oil allows consumers to spend more money on non-gasoline related purchases. Also, if inflation were factored in, the surplus number would likely be smaller.
Today’s news proves that hardworking Minnesotans are over-taxed. Last biennium, Democrats raised taxes by $2.1 billion dollars. So is it really any wonder that we have a surplus? Remember, surpluses come from hardworking taxpayers, not the government.
I am committed to seeing that Minnesotans are able to keep more of their hard-earned money and that our priorities match those that matter most to Minnesotans.
Aging and Long Term Care Committee Visits Faribault
On Friday, the Aging and Long Term Care Committee had an official hearing in Faribault. The hearing, which was held at the Faribault Senior Center, gave local residents the opportunity to testify and share their stories with committee members.
We heard from a number of nursing home and care facility employees and directors who told the committee of the struggles they have in finding and retaining care-givers.
Many of the testimonies were emotional and reinforced the issues that our rural nursing homes are facing on a daily basis.
I am hopeful that their needs will be prioritized as the budget continues to come together. These care givers are heroes and they deserve to be a priority.
Staying in Touch
As always, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at Rep.Mary.Franson@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-3201. You can also send mail to my office address: 517 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.