By Sen.Jeremy Miller
May 4, 2020
Greetings from the Capitol,
I am back at the Capitol today for another round of bills, including a bill that will help more rural Minnesotans get high speed internet access. You can read about those bills below.
At the Senate, we are continuing to take the coronavirus situation extremely seriously, but we are also working to return to some type of normalcy, or at least getting a glimpse of what the new normal may look like. We are conducting floor sessions using strict social distancing practices, we are holding regular committee meetings using Zoom technology, and starting this week, we will begin having staff return to the office – if they are comfortable doing so – on alternating schedules.
It is all part of the slow process of getting past this virus – a process that many Minnesotans are beginning to think about as well. Since Governor Walz announced he was extending the stay-home order until May 18, I have received considerable feedback from constituents. On Sunday, I issued a statement about how that feedback has impacted my feelings toward Minnesota’s response to the COVID situation.
As always, I would love to hear your feedback.
Senate approves COVID Economic Recovery Act with bipartisan vote
Last week, the Senate approved a comprehensive Economic Recovery Act to help small businesses, farmers, schools, and charities battling financial hardship caused by the coronavirus and the stay-home order. The $330 million bill, which had support from both Democrats and Republicans, provides businesses with liquidity to preserve cash flows, stability to give them some level of confidence moving forward, and recovery aid to help them push through the pandemic.
Check out my press release for more about the bill, but here are a few highlights:
Full conformity to Section 179 of the federal tax code, for farmers and small businesses
Several delayed tax payments so small businesses can keep more cash on hand for bills and retaining workers
Expanded K-12 tax credit so more families with children qualify
Fairer school equalization aid formula, so schools with low property wealth get more revenue
Expanding high speed internet in Greater MN
In the 21st Century, and especially in the age of the coronavirus, high speed internet is a utility that is just as important as electricity. As schools have shifted entirely to distance learning and doctors expand their use of telemedicine for routine medical issues, we have come to learn just how vital high-speed internet access is in our daily lives.
In the metro area, broadband access is universal. But in Greater Minnesota, there are still plenty of areas that are underserved or entirely unserved. That’s why we have made broadband access a top priority. Today we approved a $20 million bill to expand access to broadband internet service and telemedicine. Notably, $8 million of the bill is designated to distance learning grants for students currently lacking Internet access during the COVID-19 peacetime public health emergency.
Prohibiting the use of cancer-causing chemicals 25in manufacturing
Last week, the Minnesota Senate took a significant step in the state’s effort to curb the use of trichloroethylene (TCE), a toxic and dangerous chemical some companies use during their manufacturing processes. By an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 66-1, the Senate approved legislation compelling companies to stop using TCE and switch to safer alternatives. The bipartisan agreement is the result of inclusive negotiations involving the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature, local business groups, and concerned residents of the community.
The bill does provide for possible exemptions, including for facilities that use TCE in a closed system, facilities that are holding TCE for a third party, hospitals or academic facilities, for research and development laboratories, and for use in waste disposal.
And as always, if you have any questions, ideas, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me any time. Your feedback is extremely important to me and I encourage you to share your input. You can send me an email at email@example.com or call my Capitol office at 651-296-5649. It’s a great honor to serve as your State Senator.
Finally, if you don’t already follow me on Facebook, please give my page a ‘Like’. This is a great way to stay on top of the latest news from the Capitol! Visit my page here: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorJeremyMiller/.