Legislative update: Opioid epidemic, immigrant driver’s licenses, prenatal care

The following update on the 2019 Minnesota state legislative session is provided by the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Church’s official public policy voice in the state.

During the final week of February, there were a number of committee hearings on legislation that the Minnesota Catholic Conference is following. We submitted written testimony or letters of support on several of them including: HF 400 and SF 751 to address the opioid epidemic, HF 9 the so-called “red flag” bill to prohibit people from possessing firearms if they pose a significant danger to themselves or others, and HF 1500 the Immigrant Driver’s License bill to allow undocumented persons the ability to obtain a driver’s license.

In addition to these bills, several other bills for which the conference is advocating have been moving through the legislative process, including: Earned Sick and Safe Time (HF11), the Prenatal Care bill (HF 909), and the Home Visiting Programs bill (HF 1226).  The Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit bill (SF 1872/HF 1894) was also introduced this week. This bill, if passed, will give parents more educational opportunities for their children to attend schools that best meet their child’s needs.

You can find out about and follow all of these bills and many more at www.mncatholic.org/action. Click on bills and then enter the bill number or topic into the search bar.

The first full week of March will be another busy one at the Legislature as committees work toward the first hearing deadline of March 15. The first deadline is for committees to act favorably on bills in the bill’s house of origin. This means, that if a bill started in the Senate, it needs to be passed by the Senate by March 15 in order to continue its path towards possibly becoming a law.

To see what’s coming up at the Legislature, go to https://www.leg.state.mn.us/cal?type=all and check out what bills on are the Legislature’s calendar for the week.  Some bill hearings of interest include:

• Tuesday, March 5, for the Wage Theft Prohibition bill (HF 6) in the House Judiciary Committee.

• Monday, March 4, and Tuesday, March 5, for Immigrant Driver’s Licenses (HF 1500).

• Tuesday, March 5, for the Opioid bill (HF 400).

• Wednesday, March 6, for the Restore the Vote bill (HF 40), which restores the voting rights of an individual who has been released from incarceration.

Again, you can find out about all these pieces of legislation and MCC’s position on them by going to www.mncatholic.org/action. Click on bills and then enter the bill number or topic into the search bar.

Take action

The Earned Sick and Safe Time bill (HF 11/SF 1597), is a basic employment standard that allows employees to accrue up to six days of paid time off to care for themselves or a loved one. Too many working people are forced to make impossible financial choices between caring for themselves or a loved one and missing a paycheck or even getting fired.

Good public policy should protect people who have to take time away from their jobs to handle serious family responsibilities, and people should not have to worry about being penalized for taking care of themselves, a sick child or spouse. The legislation would help not only family life but would also send the message that children and families are real priorities within our society. We must stand for the dignity of the human person and protect the laborer when employers fail to provide just working conditions (CCC 2432-34).

Please reach out to your legislator and ask them to support HF 11 (Lesch)/ SF 1597 (Pappas) and give all employees this basic right. You can find your legislator’s contact information by visiting www.mncatholic.org/action and clicking on “directory.”

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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