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Senate President Election, Responding to U.S. Capitol Riot, Expanding Rural Broadband, New Senator

On this week's program, Senator Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, is once again elected President of the Senate. Meanwhile, responses to the unrest at the U.S. Capitol and reaction to the demonstrations at the Minnesota Capitol and the Governor's Mansion hijack a usually amicable forum between Governor Walz and legislative leaders.

The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband recommends continued funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Program. Senator Tom Bakk, I-Cook, has authored a bill to do just that. He joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to explain the importance of broadband expansion and to reflect on his decision to leave the DFL and form an independent caucus.

Finally, the newest Senators are getting settled in as we continue our series of conversations with newly-elected members. Senator Ann Johnson Stewart, DFL-Wayzata, joins Shannon to talk about how her career as a civil engineer and educator will contribute to the work of the Senate.

Session Update: Raising the Penalty for Harming Law Enforcement

Persons who intentionally harm law enforcement officers would face stiff penalties, under a measure outlined at a State Capitol press conference Thursday, January 14. The bill, SF 82, would require a minimum life incarceration sentence for a person convicted of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, judge, prosecutor or correctional officer.

Bill sponsors Senator John Jasinski, R-Faribault, and Rep. John Petersburg, R-Waseca, were joined at the event by Waseca Officer Arik Matson , who was injured in a near-fatal shooting in January 2020, and his wife Megan.

Session Update: Frustrations Over Availability of Vaccine For Seniors

The Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee met remotely Wednesday, January 13, to hear from Minnesotans struggling to understand the COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy for seniors aged 65 and older. About a half dozen individuals spoke on behalf of themselves, their loved ones and their communities, expressing frustration at a lack of communication from state officials on when, where and how to get a vaccine.

Session Update: Extending Remote Processing of Marriage Licenses

COVID-19 restrictions made it difficult for counties to safely process marriage license applications in-person, and the waiver that allowed for remote processing expires on January 15. Members of the Senate Civil Law and Data Practices Policy Committee debated the first bill of the 2021 session, one that would extend the sunset date for the remote processing of marriage licenses to May 31.

Session Update: Legislative Forum Focuses on U.S. Capitol Riot

Governor Tim Walz and legislative leaders met virtually with the Capitol press corps for what became an atypical legislative session preview Monday, January 11. The remote meeting was sponsored by the Forum News Service.

Historically, the Governor and lawmakers offer insights into the issues and plans they will pursue during the session. Instead, an increasingly contentious forum emerged as the panel of leaders reacted to the rioting that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol last week and the rallies that occurred outside the Minnesota Capitol and the Governor’s mansion.