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Proposing Changes to State Gun Laws

The Senate Judiciary Committee hit the road this week, holding an informational hearing at the Crown Ballroom in Hibbing on a half-dozen proposed changes to Minnesota gun laws. On this week's program, we present highlights of the testimony supporting and opposing the expansion of criminal background checks to include online and private sales and transfers. Also, Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke talks with committee chair Senator Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, and lead DFL member Senator Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, about the hearing.

Also on the program, Curt Yoakum, Assistant Commissioner of Communications and Planning at the Department of Administration, highlights the extensive renovation of the State Capitol's third floor, dedicated to providing additional space for public use. And, Brian Pease of the Minnesota Historical Society describes the history and restoration efforts of the Civil War battle flags on display in the State Capitol rotunda.

Improving Independence for Minnesotans with a Disability

The Senate Human Resources Reform Committee heard from people in the disability community who faced discrimination in the workplace. The committee dedicated a hearing Wednesday, January 22, to review ways the state can better assist people with a disability live an independent life.

To view the entire meeting, select the "Video Archives - Senate Committees" menu above.

Presenting 'Vision 2020' Agenda, Reducing Prescription Drug Prices

On this week's program, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to provide an outline of the Republican Caucus priorities for the 2020 session. Plus, Governor Tim Walz emphasizes improvements to local water supply and waste water treatment as priorities among his $2 billion dollar bonding proposal.

Also on the program, Senate Health and Human Services Chair Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, and Senator and physician Matt Klein, DFL-Mendota Heights, suggest ways that the state can help reduce prescription drug costs.

Senate Republicans Present 'Vision 2020' Agenda

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka outlined the 2020 Senate GOP agenda at a press conference Monday, January 13. Lawmakers are scheduled to convene the legislative session Tuesday, February 11, at a time when Minnesota finds itself in a stable economic position. State officials project a budget surplus of $1.3 billion dollars, with a full budget reserve account of nearly $2.4 billion dollars, the statutory maximum.

In light of the budget surplus, Gazelka said, “We want to give some of it back.” Currently, Minnesota taxes a portion of social security income, and GOP lawmakers would like to see that income become fully exempt. “Let’s be one of those states that doesn’t tax our seniors when they’ve paid all the way through, and then now they have to pay again,” he said.

Other goals of the “Vision 2020” blueprint are a bonding bill focused on wastewater improvements, higher education building improvements, and road and bridge projects. The vision further includes measures to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, proposals to increase public safety, a plan to improve the Department of Human Services and the Clean Energy First Act, a measure that would prioritize clean energy solutions to meet the state’s future energy needs.

In response to the GOP Agenda, Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk released the following statement: “Republicans launched their 2020 agenda today with no mention of the work they’ve been doing to block progress for Minnesotans. They’ve refused time and again to even give important bills a public hearing – proposals that could increase access to affordable health care, help students succeed in school, make our communities safer, and ensure Minnesota workers have access to paid family and medical leave have been ignored by Senate Republicans.”

Preparing for Minnesota's Energy Future

The energy needed to heat and cool our homes, turn on our lights, power our vehicles and drive our technology is growing in demand and efficiency. Senator David Osmek, R-Mound, and chair of the Senate Energy Committee, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke as he prepares to bring his committee to Minnesota’s communities to discuss Minnesota's energy future.

Senator David Senjem, R-Rochester, is the author of the Clean Energy First Act, a member of the transportation committee and chair of the Capital Investments Committee. He joins Shannon to offer his perspective on moving towards clean energy and investing in Minnesota's future infrastructure.

Also, Governor Tim Walz has created a subcabinet to address policies impacting climate change. Senator Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato, sponsors Governor Walz's clean energy bill, and he joins Shannon Loehrke to highlight ways the state can encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Assessing Minnesota's Economy; Evaluating State Spending

The Department of Human Services has garnered troubling headlines over the last months, prompting lawmakers to review how that agency, and other agencies, are spending taxpayer money. Senate Finance Chair Julie Rosen joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to offer her assessment of the budget forecast and what steps lawmakers can take to ensure fiscal integrity among state agencies.

The recent state budget and economic forecast shows Minnesota with a projected $1.3 billion dollar surplus at the end of the current two year budget cycle. The good news results from the state economic projection, and Dr. Laura Kalambokidis, the State Economist, joins Shannon to explain the latest economic trends.

Also in the program, the Senate DFL Caucus announces the formation of a new climate change caucus, and Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead presents her 90-day review of the department.

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Proposing Changes to State Gun Laws