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Senate Media Services

Plan Presented to Stop Penetration of Invasive Carp

Dr. Peter Sorensen of the University of Minnesota stressed the need for urgent action while presenting an $11 million plan to control the influx of invasive carp in Minnesota. Sorensen outlined his proposal to members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources during an informational hearing at the State Capitol Wednesday, August 10.

Saying “this is the only plan on the table,” Sorensen focused on changes to Lock and Dam 5, south of Lake Pepin on the Mississippi River. Specifically, he called for a Biacoustic Fish Fence (BAFF) to be installed. In addition, he suggested the installation of a fish ladder for native fish. According to Sorensen, the plan would take 2 to 5 years to implement upon approval.

“It’s kind of now or never,” said Sorensen, claiming that 99 percent of the invasive carp could be stopped. “We figured this out as far as we can,” he said. “You want to stop them before they reproduce.”

Senate Chair Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, and lead DFL committee member Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, agreed that action is urgent as policymakers consider potential funding mechanisms.

Banning Organ Donor Discrimination / Dedicating More Funds for Transportation / National Judicial Competition

People in Minnesota who want to help another person by donating one of their organs, like a kidney, or providing bone marrow, have faced uncertainty when it comes to future premiums for life, disability and long-term care insurance. Senator Kari Dziedzic (DFL-Mpls.) championed a new law that prevents insurance companies from discriminating against donors, and she joins moderator Shannon Loehrke to explain its significance for donors and patients.

Dedicated funding for roads and bridges is an ongoing conversation among lawmakers. Currently, about half of the money collected in sales tax on auto parts is directed to state road and bridge projects. Last session, Senator Jeff Howe (R-Rockville) authored a bill, which passed the Senate on a vote of 59-7, that would have dedicated ALL of the sales tax on auto parts to transportation. He joins Shannon to explain his push for the change.

The National Judicial Competition, or the NJC, sponsored by the YMCA, brings several hundred students together from across the country to participate in either a model appellate court or mock trial competition. Minnesota is host this year, and Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke talks with Orville Lindquist, State Program Executive, and several student participants to learn more about the program.

Ethics Subcommittee Issues Decisions on Fateh Complaints

The Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct issued its recommendations Wednesday, July 27, regarding complaints brought forward by members of the Senate Republican Caucus against Minneapolis DFL Senator Omar Fateh. The panel recommended that Fateh receive additional training in campaign finance law as a result of failing to report paying Somali TV for two campaign ads televised in the 2020 election. The recommendation will be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.

The committee was charged with reviewing two complaints. The first stated the Fateh violated Senate rules by failing to disclose a conflict of interest with Somali TV when authoring legislation that would have appropriated $500,000 to the television organization despite receiving primary election campaign promotion. Committee chair David Osmek, R-Mound, said, "I don't see tangible evidence that the half million dollars that was put into a bonding request was necessarily a direct action or a direct result of any other activity." During their investigative hearings, the committee learned that Fateh paid Somali TV for producing and distributing a campaign ad; however, he failed to report it.

The second complaint stated that Fateh violated Senate rules "by failing to expressly address his involvement in the unauthorized delivery of 2020 Primary Election absentee ballots and retaining his Senate staffer who reportedly directed the fraudulent election activity." Osmek said, "There is no discernible, tangible connectivity between Senator Fateh and the vote. I cannot find any testimony that can make that case." The committee voted to dismiss the second complaint entirely.

Select the video archives to view the entire Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct hearings.

Supporting Hometown Heroes / Restoring Mental Competency / Hemp Farms

On this week's program, Senator Jeff Howe, R-Rockville, highlights the importance of the Hometown Heroes Assistance Program, which was recently extended to provide continued financial assistance to firefighters and first responders who develop job-related illnesses and trauma.

Also, Senator Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, joins moderator Shannon Loehrke to discuss a new law that establishes a process for restoring mental competency to defendants determined to be unable to participate in their own defense.

Finally, Hemp Acres in Waconia, Minnesota, recently celebrated its grand opening of a new hemp processing facility with Governor Tim Walz, as agriculture officials promote a growth industry supplying hemp ingredients for food manufacturing, construction, animal husbandry, supplements, brewing and bioplastics.

Aiding Minnesota's Agricultural Economy / Protecting Student Data

Governor Tim Walz and key legislators gathered at a dairy farm in Central Minnesota for the ceremonial bill signing of the bill which provides additional funding for agriculture and broadband expansion. On this week's Capitol Report program, Senate Agriculture Chair Torrey Westrom and Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen join moderator Shannon Loehrke to highlight aspects of the comprehensive package that will aid farmers impacted by the 2022 drought and extend broadband across the state.

A several-year effort to modernize and strengthen protections for student data in this digital age was realized when Governor Tim Walz signed into law the Student Data Privacy Act. Senator Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, championed the effort, and she joins Shannon to explain what it means for students and technology companies.

Also in the program, House DFL members explain the new law that allows the sale of hemp-derived THC edibles and specialty drinks.