This week we heard bonding overviews in the Transportation Committee, had bills signed by Governor Dayton, and were given our new redistricting maps.
TRANSPORTATION – This week in the Transportation Committee we held informational hearings on a host of bills dealing with requests for state bonding dollars to fund transportation projects. Among the bills we heard were requests for projects dealing with local road and bridge improvements, ports, railroad crossings, airports, transit centers, storm tunnels and sound walls. All of these requests have sound merits that could possibly be heard before the Capital Investment Committee later this session. This is the committee that has final say in which projects are authorized by the Senate. Next week in the Transportation Committee, we will hear bills that address the establishment of an online motor vehicle insurance inspection system, the benefits of conducting a study on the positive impacts of Minnesota’s freight rail system, and the review of vehicle title issuance requirements.
FIRST NEW LAW: TEACHER BASIC SKILLS – A bill to require teachers to successfully complete a basic skills examination in math, reading, and writing prior to receiving a license as a classroom teacher was signed into law by Governor Dayton on Wednesday. Out-of-state applicants for Minnesota teacher licenses will also have to pass the test. The Senate approved the bill on Monday with a 60-1 vote, and the House unanimously endorsed it last week.
SEX OFFENDERS – The Senate unanimously passed a bill, which was ultimately signed by the Governor on Thursday, that amends the state law on public notification for sex offenders. This bill changes current law to require community notification prior to a provisional discharge, and allows full community notification upon the transfer of the sex offender from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program to a residential treatment facility, such as a halfway house. Under the provisions of this bill, all levels of community notification would occur, including notifying law enforcement, former victims, daycares, schools, other groups that may fit a victim profile, and general community meetings in the neighborhood. It is effective immediately.
REDISTRICTING – Maps redrawing legislative and congressional district lines for this fall’s elections were released Tuesday. The redistricting exercise is done every 10 years after the census. The number of districts remains the same, but district borders are changed to make sure each district has approximately the same number of people in it, currently 80,000 per Senate district. To see how the change will affect you for the upcoming election, go to the state Geographic Information Services website at www.gis.leg.mn/html/redistricting.html, click on the interactive map, and enter your address.
PERSONAL PROTECTION (House File 1467/Senate File 1357) – Yesterday the Senate passed the Defense of Dwelling and Person Act which makes four changes to existing self-defense laws. It removes the “duty to retreat” provision, creates a presumption of reasonableness that protects the victim if they defend themselves, allows victims to use force against violent felonies, and protects victims who use justified force in self defense from facing criminal prosecution. The measure also addresses state government weapon seizure during state of emergencies, and recognizes permits to carry or licenses from another state. The bill passed with bipartisan support.
I continue to work on your behalf and welcome your questions and comments on legislative issues.