Column: Stay engaged at Legislature does your work
State Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, can be reached at 651-296-9183 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Legislature started its work on Jan. 8, 2019, and already it has been a busy session.
Two weeks ago, the annual March for Life rally and the Gun Owners Caucus Day at the Capitol brought many citizens to the Capitol. Last week it was organizations of bikers and home school parents. I enjoyed meeting supporters of those groups and discussing issues important to them.
I am the chief author of a bill that would allow Minnesotans to carry a firearm without a permit unless otherwise barred from doing so. I also introduced a bill that would establish an individual's right not to join a union or join one as they see fit, and an employer's right to hire union or non-union workers, not forced by the hand of government.
I also have been working on getting funding for dredging the Minneiska boat launch. The Department of Natural Resources was supposed to fund that project but did not. It's important to make sure that the money the DNR spends on recreational facilities is spread fairly around the state, including aoutheastern Minnesota.
I have also co-authored bills that would:
• preserve our 2nd Amendment rights and remove the duty to retreat when defending yourself or another person, not just in your home.
• remove the state tax on Social Security payments. the federal government taxes it, and we can't do anything about that, but at least we can join the majority of other states that do not tax Social Security.
Most of my work during the first months of the session will take place in House committees. For the 2019-2020 legislative biennium, I have been assigned the following committees: Ways and Means, Property Taxes, and Rules.
Ways and Means is a very important committee in the House. It is where all the final spending decisions are made on bills passed through the House of Representatives.
I continue to be on the Property Taxes Committee. I will keep looking for ways to lower the property tax burden on citizens, to make them fairer, simpler and less of a burden. The discussion of my bipartisan work and proposal to pass the House, Garage, and 1 Acre bill for school construction levies continues.
The Rules Committee makes all the rules about what bills will be put up for discussion. You may have heard that they are trying to pass some controversial rules that prevent citizens from seeing the path of a bill as easily as they did in the past. The rules limit the ability to know where bills are in the process when citizens should expect to testify.
It's unfortunate that the majority decided to change the way we do things in a way that is easy for them, but worse for transparency. I will continue to oppose these changes.
Here are some useful tools online to help understand the legislative process:
• Minnesota House of Representatives —https://www.house.mn/- This is the main site of the Minnesota House with links to committee schedules, bills and more.
• Session Daily - www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/sdaily.aspx- A nonpartisan publication of Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services which a daily and weekly summary of what happened at the legislature during session.
• New laws - www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/newlaws/newlawsmain.asp - Compiled by the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services.
• TV coverage -www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/htv.asp - Coverage is broadcast statewide — along with Minnesota Senate television coverage — on our local PBS station's digital Minnesota Channel available on many cable systems and is free on over-the-air channels.
• Streaming video - www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/schedule.asp - Live Internet video streaming of more legislative hearings and floor activities that could not make the TV channels due to timing.
• How a bill becomes law - www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/leginfo/How_a_bill.pdf A 16-page booklet explaining, in a simple, straightforward manner, how a bill moves from an idea to law. Capitol Steps is intended as a resource for junior high school students.
• Twitter -twitter.com/MNHouseInfo - Follow the Twitter account @MNHouseInfo to see nonpartisan news and other information from the Legislature.
I hope you will follow the Legislature for the next few months while it is in session and contact me to share your thoughts on an issue or if you have a problem you think I or our constituent service and research team could help with. We all work for you. Luke, Margaret, and Andy have already helped a few of my constituents this session. If you are coming to the capitol, please do call us at 651-296-9183 ahead of time so that we can clear my schedule for a visit.