Senate District 61 Newsletter

Rep. Frank Hornstein
Sen. Scott Dibble
D. Scott
State Senator
111 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
State Representative
471 State Offce Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
Red headline denotes legislation chief authored by Sen. Dibble and Rep. Hornstein.
Dear Friends,
The 2013-2014 legislative session, the 88th Legislature of the State of Minnesota,
concluded on Friday, May 16, three days earlier than its scheduled adjournment.
These last two years have been some of the most productive legislative sessions
in the history of the State of Minnesota. In 2013 and 2014, we reversed a ten year
trend of state disinvestment in our economy and ballooning budget defcits and
helped Minnesotans gain ground and build better lives. Building on the astounding
successes of last year, we were able to make our tax system even more fair, add
to the state’s rainy day fund, deliver property tax reductions (including for renters) boost the
embarrassingly low minimum wage, make the work place better for women, put people to
work, boost our long-term economic competitiveness by improving the state’s infrastructure,
and make greater investments in our young citizens’ education in early, K-12 and higher
We created an economy that works well for everyone, with a record number of new jobs, a
more fair and just society, and a government that functions well and is responsive to the values
and priorities of the citizens it serves. The news is good as we head into the summer and fall.
The thousands of you who played a large and small role in pushing and leading important
changes for the better have much to be proud of and we thank you.
As we get ready for the coming year, please don’t hesitate to call and write to let us know
issues, ideas, problems to be solved that are important to you.
Very truly yours,
Scott Dibble Frank Hornstein
State Senator, District 61 State Representative, District 61A
Investment in Education
Giving our next generation the
tools to succeed continues to be
a keen focus. Building on last
year’s incredible advances, the
turnaround continues. Representing
$54 million in investments, schools
for schools in low income areas,
assurance that low-income kids will
not be humiliated and turned away
from receiving a school lunch, and
expansion of availability of breakfast
at school.
will receive another $25 per pupil,
substantial investments in high
quality early childhood education,
proven successful reading initiatives,
English language learner reforms,
community based transformations
$100 Million in
Afordable Housing
Housing is a basic necessity and
a human right. Without safe and
stable housing it is hard for families,
communities and businesses to
succeed. The legislature approved
a historic level of support – $100
million in its capital investment
bill to rehabilitate existing facilities
and build new affordable housing
for poor and low income working
people. These state funds will
be combined with local, federal
and private funds so thousands of
families will be helped. Additionally,
we added support for homeless and
exploited youth, people with mental
illnesses, and residential group
5% Campaign
Making sure the professionals who
take care of our elderly and dis-
abled family members in home and
community based settings are paid
decently has been lagging for far too
long, forcing many out of the trade
and breaking up important relation-
ships. The legislature provided a
5% rate increase effective July 1,
2014 for these services, requiring
over 80% of the funds to be used to
increase worker pay. We have 67,600
people with disabilities and 24,900
older adults being served by 90,800
caregivers. This is just a start, but it
gives those most affected hope.
Bonding Bill Helps Minneapolis
Improving our state’s infrastructure and updating aging facilities will put thousands of
men and women to work across the state. Minnesota is investing $1.17 billion to get
dozens of shovel-ready building projects underway. Housing infrastructure across the
state, roads and bridges, local economic development, projects at public colleges and
universities will not only create jobs now, but will sustain local economies and enhance
the quality of life in Minnesota for years to come.
Nicollet Mall (Nicollet Mile)
The vision for the new Mall, with assistance from the same folks that designed The
Highline in New York City, includes better transit connections, additional greenspace
and a more attractive walkable venue. The legislature allocated $21.5 million in
bonding which will supplement $25 million from the downtown business community.
The project will also utilize $3.5 million in private funds and some city dollars.
Walker Sculpture Garden
The Walker Art Center’s Sculpture Garden, hosted on land owned by the Minneapolis
Park Board, and known for our trademark Spoonbridge and Cherry installation, is
showing its age and the wear of millions of visitors over the past 25 years. It will be
completely overhauled and renovated with $8.5 million in bonding resources and an
additional $1.5 million from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. A key feature of
the re-do will be better, more environmentally sound handling of the excess moisture
from the very high water table it sits on.
Womens Economic Security Act
The Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) will move us much closer to
equal pay for equal work and reduces the gender pay gap through increased
enforcement of equal pay laws for state contractors. It also prohibits employers
from discriminating against pregnant women and parents with children under 18;
and expands the family and sick leave for working families. The package passed
with bipartisan support despite opposition from some business groups.
Minimum Wage
For businesses with gross sales over $500,000, the minimum wage
will increase to $8.00 in 2014, $9.00 in 2015 and $9.50 in 2016. For
businesses with gross sales under $500,000, the minimum wage will
increase to $6.50 in 2014, $7.25 in 2015 and $7.75 in 2016. Training
wages for workers under 20 for the frst 90 days and all workers
under 18 will rise to $7.75. This legislation will increase the wages
for more than 350,000 Minnesotans and those increased wages will
spread economic activity throughout the state. Minnesota now joins
a growing list of states that are addressing one of the root causes of
income inequality. In addition, beginning in 2018, all wages will
increase each year on January 1 by infation measured by the implicit
price defator (capped at 2.5%). This automatic wage increase will
help ensure Minnesota workers have a stable minimum wage in the
Safe Schools – Anti-bullying
Going from one of the weakest anti-bullying laws in the nation to one of the strongest,
students attending our public schools in Minnesota will no longer have to make the
tradeoff between attending school or feeling safe and welcome. Designed to protect all
students from bullying, the law emphasizes changing behavior in lieu of punishment,
requires strong school policies, effective response and follow up, training for school
professionals and research based bullying prevention activities.
Medical Cannabis
Minnesotans suffering from debilitating illnesses will be able to work with their
doctor and a pharmacist to access liquid, oil and pill forms of cannabis to fnd
relief via a statewide patient registry designed to capture information on the
effcacy of this treatment. Scaled back in its approach from the proposal that
initially cleared the Senate, the signed legislation represents a good start to build
upon so people can access cannabis in other forms and for additional conditions.
Minnesota joins 21 other states that have taken this important step for their
While the legislature once again did not pass a comprehensive bill to raise needed
signifcant revenue for roads, bridges and public transit, additional monies were allocated
from the general fund to support transit in Greater Minnesota, transit shelters and stations,
increase staff for Capitol security, and provide support for the Safe Routes to School
program to encourage students to bike and walk to school. The legislation included specifc
funding for a new transit station at I-35W and Lake street. The bonding bill calls for a
specifc allocation to repair pothole damaged roads across the state.
35 W/Lake Street Interchange
Funding for a new transit station was appropriated in the supplemental transportation bill.
The project will also receive funding from the capital investment legislation. The 2014
session marks signifcant progress in our long time effort to improve transit infrastructure at
this well traveled intersection. A new and modern transit station will be part of the process
for improving transit north and south on the I-35W corridor (via Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
Orange Line connecting Downtown Minneapolis and Lakeville) and east and west along the
Lake Street/Midtown Greenway corridor (connecting the SW Corridor LRT Green Line to
the Hiawatha LRT Blue Line). Other suburban and urban routes will be able to use the new
Oil Transportation Safety
Transportation of oil via rail and pipeline across Minnesota has
dramatically increased in recent years as a result of the oil drilling and
fracking boom in North Dakota and Canada. The oil from these regions
is particularly volatile and dangerous to transport. While much of the
regulations related to oil transportation are dictated at the federal level, the
Minnesota Legislature passed a bill to increase funding to better equip and
train fre fghters and frst responders along oil transportation routes; hire
more track inspectors; improve rail grade crossings, and require railroads
to speed up spills and leaks cleanup. Most of the funding for the bill comes
from an assessment on railroads and pipeline companies.
Minnesota continues to make progress on policies to advance clean
and renewable energy and greater energy effciency and conservation.
Allowing loans for small scale renewable energy and effciency
installations to be paid as part of your utility bill will now be possible.
Utilities are directed to report on their plans for the long term on
challenges and opportunities to meet our carbon reduction goals.
Recycling and Composting
The legislature made a signifcant update in policies concerning recycling
and composting. In an effort to support communities moving toward a
zero waste policies, such as Minneapolis, a bill was passed to signifcantly
increase state grants to local communities for recycling and organics
composting. The bill also increased the recycling goal for metro counties
from 50% to 75% by 2030, and mandates that larger businesses in the
metro area recycle.
Last year in Minneapolis, a catastrophic die off of bees was caused by improper use
of pesticides, as has happened elsewhere. In the future, if a hive is lost, a team from
the University of Minnesota will be able to investigate. If it is shown to be from
improper use of pesticides, the hive owner can be compensated either from the person
who did the spraying, or if the person is unknown, from existing resources funded by
a tax on pesticides. In another bill, pesticides known to be lethal to pollinators will be
listed as such, and cultivars treated with them can no longer be labeled “bee friendly.”
Tax Policies to Support Homeowners, Students, and Renters
In 2014, the legislature built on progressive tax policies passed the previous
year. Two million Minnesotans will beneft from tax cuts to working families,
homeowners, college students, married couples and adopting families. In addition,
the legislature enacted $178 million in decreased property taxes for homeowners,
renters and farmers.
Other important initiatives passed in 2014
Dogs and cats in the labs at our public research universities and colleges will have a chance at
being placed with forever families after they’re done being used, rather than being summarily
euthanized for no reason under a bill titled the “Beagle Freedom Bill.” Because of their affable
temperaments, beagles are used in over 90% of all dog-based experimentation. Fortunately,
they are often able to quickly adapt to family life even after having spent four to fve years
inside of a kennel.
Homeless Youth
The Homeless Youth Act (Senate File 565 in 2013 and this year, Senate File 2194), supports
shelters and housing programs for youth and young adults. This year we were able to include
in the supplemental budget bill an additional $1 million in grant funding every year through
2017 over the historic appropriation of $4 million that went to support 30 community-based
agencies serving homeless and at risk youth across the state.
Loring Pond Cattails
Also known as “corn dog grass,” the invasive cattails that have completely overrun the ponds
in Loring Park can now be completely eliminated by the Park Board and replaced with native
aquatic vegetation.
School lunches. Kids who qualify for reduced
price lunches will not be turned away if they
don’t have the money to pay.
Puppy mills. At long last, barbaric dog
breeding facilities will be subject to
oversight and regulation.
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). Local units of
government will receive grants to conduct
AIS prevention and intervention activities,
especially at public boat landings.
Online pulltabs (eliminated). The Minnesota
Lottery will not be able to continue selling
lottery tickets online, nor electronic scratch
off tickets at gas pumps.
Hit and run duty to stop. When a driver hits
something, they will now be required to
stop and determine what (or who) they hit,
eliminating an incentive to leave the scene
and later claim a lack of knowledge as a
defense in court.
Legislative salary constitutional amendment.
In November of 2016 voters will be asked
whether to amend the state’s constitution to
remove legislators’ ability to set their own
pay, combined with a measure to eliminate
all conficts of interest by the body that sets
Cell phone kill switch. All cell phones sold in
Minnesota can be rendered useless remotely
if stolen. Those buying used electronic
devices are required to keep track of sellers.
Online voter registration. Voters will be able to
register to vote and apply for absentee ballots
online in a legal, safe and secure manner.
Plastic microbeads in surface waters. Plastic
microbeads in the state’s waters and their
potential impacts on aquatic ecosystems and
human health will be studied by the DNR and
the U of M.
Lead, mercury, triclosan. Lead or mercury in
wheel weights, counterweights used in the
auto manufacturing industry, and mercury
thermometers will be banned. Minnesota will
be the frst state in the nation to ban triclosan in
personal care products.
Newborn screening. Newborns will continue to be
screened for more than 50 serious, rare, hard
to detect, important to treat early, disorders.
Samples will be retained for important public
health, scientifcally valid research. Parents will
be fully informed of their rights to opt out of
these services.
Compensation for the wrongly accused. Those who
have been jailed and can show later that they
were wrongfully convicted will be able to access
monetary compensation, post-release services,
housing, transportation and subsistence, and
medical and dental health care costs, and
receive offcial acknowledgment of a wrongful
Public Beneft Corporations. Corporations that have
both a social purpose and proft motive will be
allowed to form and do business in Minnesota.
Opiate overdose antidote and good Samaritan
protections. Naxalone, an antidote to opiate
overdose, will be more widely available and
can be administered by people other than
just doctors and paramedics. Those calling
emergency responders to save the life of
someone overdosing will not be subject
to prosecution themselves, eliminating a
disincentive to get help.
Broadband funding. A new border-to-border
broadband development grant program will
provide $20 million in grants for unserved
and under-served areas of the state.
Expungement. Criminal records held by
both public agencies and the courts can be
shielded from certain background checks
to help reformed offenders get a second
chance to become productive members of
society, gain access to housing and jobs.
Tenant victims of domestic violence. Barriers
for tenant-victims in breaking a lease
if necessary for their safety in cases of
domestic violence, sexual assault and
stalking, were eliminated.
GPS tracking for domestic abusers. Judges across
the state are authorized to require use of
electronic monitoring devices to increase
the safety for domestic abuse victims.
Guns surrendered by those with OFP’s. Those
subject to orders for protection (restraining
orders) for domestic abuse, sexual assault
or stalking are required to surrender their
guns and will not be allowed to purchase a
new gun.
Data Security
The misuse of private, sensitive data by public employees, especially those in law enforcement,
threatens the public’s trust and costs taxpayers in court settlements. The law has been
strengthened to tighten training and procedures, clarify what constitutes a breach or misuse of
data, improve investigations and reporting the results of those investigations, and increasing
personal accountability on the part of those who break the law.
Things that didn’t pass:
Judicial Election Reform
It is important that Minnesota not go the way of other states, including our next door
neighbor, Wisconsin, where judges are elected on the basis of extreme partisan views,
rather than on qualifcations and commitment to uphold the laws of the state, no matter
their personal views, and with funds collected from deep-pocket, special corporate
interests. We are sorry that a strong, bipartisan proposal improving our judicial
appointments and election process to ensure and protect the high caliber of our bench,
supported by many solid civic organizations, again failed to be passed into law.
Sunday Sales
Our state’s old “blue laws” written to enforce a particular religious traditions’ practices
and beliefs continue to hold sway in the sale of alcohol on Sundays. Several amendments
to the law, one to give municipalities the choice over Sunday sales, another to simply
allow Sunday sales, and one to allow the sale of growlers at microbreweries on Sundays,
were all defeated in the end. The grassroots pressure is mounting and momentum is
gaining on this issue and we believe it will pass within the next few years.
Sex Offenders
A Federal Court has ruled that the state must take action to reform the Minnesota Sex Offender
Program (MSOP) so that almost 700 individuals currently locked up are not unconstitutionally
incarcerated in a de facto life sentence. Changes to the MSOP are politically diffcult and
challenging to safely implement, but doing nothing is not an option. The alternative may well be
that the court orders the release of very dangerous individuals without proper review or safeguards.
License Plate Surveillance
A number of police agencies instituted a surveillance system whereby the location of everyone’s
car is tracked, recorded and accessible for future reference. Its existence was never disclosed.
Provisions for confdentiality nor for the destruction of these records for innocent citizens
were never made. A response to mandate the destruction of such records for people not under
investigation and classifying the data as private failed to receive fnal approval by the legislature.
Wolf Hunt
Efforts to suspend the state’s wolf hunt, bar extremely painful snaring systems and set up an
advisory task force to study the wolf management did not pass. Unlawfully killing, transporting
or possession of a wolf will trigger a new penalty. The DNR is now required to track known wolf
Constitutional Amendments
A bill to raise the threshold for putting a constitutional amendment to the voters to a three-ffths (60%)
majority vote of the legislature did not pass.
Pay Day Lending
A bill to address the debt trap many people fnd themselves in, where consumers take out several loans
consecutively from so-call pay day lenders only to fnd they are unable to pay the loans back, was not
passed in the fnal hours of the session.
Toxic Free Kids
Legislation to require companies to disclose products, especially ones with which children come into
contact, that contain certain toxic chemicals that are determined by the Department of Health to be
possibly harmful, remains to be passed in a future session. This legislation impacts products used by
children ages 12 years and under, and would have required manufactures to report data on toxic contents
to the State Department of Health. A strong coalition of groups pressed for the bill and it will continue
to be priority issue for the next session.
Drivers License for All
We were disappointed that a provision to grant drivers licenses to aspiring citizens did not pass into law
this year. The bill passed the Senate last year and cleared all appropriate House committees but was not
heard on the House foor. This year saw increased support for the measure from the business community
and bi-partisan support which will position us well for an renewed effort on the issue next year.
Looking ahead to 2015…
Governor Mark Dayton said it best in his State
of the State speech, “The future of transportation
in Minnesota and the funding for it have to
be among the 2015 legislative session’s top
priorities. Whatever is decided -- whether to
do nothing, a little, or a lot -- will have an
enormous impact on the lives of all Minnesotans
– for decades.” In our conversations with
colleagues, House and Senate leadership, and
the media, there is consensus that transportation
will be at the top of the agenda in the coming
year. It is very simple, either Minnesota heed
all of the evidence -- declining revenues,
deteriorating roads, growing environmental
challenges, citizens who lack access to jobs
and opportunity, businesses that invest in
places that invest in themselves -- and make
the necessary leap forward or continue to
lose out in a ferociously competitive global
marketplace. We are excited as chairs of
the Transportation Committees that this
opportunity awaits and will waste no time over
the summer, fall and winter to get to work
building the momentum.
We are encouraged that the citizens have had
such a dramatic effect on the Metropolitan
Airports Commission and the Federal Aviation
Administration’s decision to go much more slowly
on changes to takeoff and departure procedures that
threatened our neighborhoods’ quality of life. We
will continue to work on passing important legislation
to require environmental study of airport expansion
and increasing fights, greater statewide coordination
and cooperation between airports that serve our
regional centers, and governance and accountability
for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

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