It won't be long before you won't be able to use your cellphone while driving unless it's through hands-free operation. Gov. Tim Walz has signed bipartisan hands-free legislation into law in hopes that it will reduce the number of accidents that occur due to drivers who pay more attention to their cellphones than the road.
Anyone that ever had a child in the Scouting program remembers the motto: be prepared. It should be the motto for the state Legislature as well. Unless you've been hibernating, you understand we received record-setting snowfall for the month of February. Snowbanks are now so tall on the corners of streets that in some cases you can't see oncoming traffic. Very soon, that snow is going to turn to water — and lots of it.
Last year I held a meeting with senior citizens at Regina Senior Living in Hastings. They told me they wished they had more money to spend from their Social Security checks. I explained that they were not alone, and that the Legislature had begun to tackle the problem. During the 2017 session, lawmakers approved a bipartisan tax relief law that addressed Social Security, providing nearly 284,000 senior citizen tax filers with tax reductions, and 72,000 of them no longer pay any state income tax on their Social Security benefits.
According to residents I heard from last fall, the top political issue in Minnesota is lowering health care costs. It's likely to be the top political issue at the state Capitol this year as well, as it should be. I've heard former Gov. Tim Pawlenty use a three-legged stool analogy when describing health care, consisting of quality of care, access to care and cost of care. We have some of the best quality of care in Minnesota and right now, most areas of the state have access to care. The cost of care is the leg that is still out of whack.
Happy Holidays! As this is my first column since Election Day, I wanted to thank you for allowing me to continue serving as your voice in the Minnesota House. I am humbled by your support and once again look forward to fighting for the needs of Hastings, Cottage Grove, Afton Denmark Township and Nininger Township in St. Paul.
The 2018 legislative session has come to a close, and while the final days were hectic, we did approve a number of common sense provisions and sent them to Gove. Mark Dayton for his approval. Locally, both legislative bodies approved a bill that ensures public transparency and guardrails for the $850 million 3M settlement. The goal is to be sure the funds are used only in the east metro to keep our drinking water clean.