Senator Ingebrigtsen sums up eighth week at LegislatureState Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria provided the following summary of his work at the Legislature last week:
Editor's note: State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria provided the following summary of his work at the Legislature last week:
Senate committees worked overtime and focused on hearing policy bills this week, as Friday was the first of three committee deadlines.
SHUTDOWN CONSUMER PROTECTIONS
This week the Senate passed three bills to address situations where services could continue for citizens should the state face another shutdown. This would prevent Minnesota students, families and facilities should from being used as leverage if the state budget bills are not passed.
During the 2011 shutdown, the Court deemed some employees essential and decided that the due to animal welfare, the Zoo should remain open. The Minnesota Zoo generates funds that are deposited in a dedicated fund for the operation and maintenance of the facility.
Electrical inspections were highlighted because most electrical inspections are done by state-contracted inspectors, not local entities, so this area was particularly impacted by the shutdown. The state lost revenue because state electrical inspections could not continue working, so the inspections had to be handled by local entities. If a shutdown ever occurs again this bill would minimize the pain to these groups and costs to the state.
In the event of a future shutdown, passage of these bills would allow certain state work, facilities, and services to carry on which leads to continued revenue streams and less disruption to Minnesotans’ lives.
RECOGNIZING NURSE LICENSING
A multi-state nurse licensing agreement with strong bipartisan support started moving through Senate committees. The Nurse Licensure Compact would allow nurses who have resident licensure in Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota recognition to practice in Minnesota as long as he/she registers with the MN Board of Nursing within 30 days from start of practice. To date there are 24 states, including Minnesota’s four border states, which have passed the Nurse Licensure Compact. Proponents say the reciprocity increases patient safety through enhanced sharing of licensure information, increases mobility for nurses to practice across state borders without additional licensure costs or requirements, and decreases licensure costs for employers.
STRENGTHENING SYNTHETIC DRUG LAWS
A bipartisan bill to help combat the possession and sale of synthetic marijuana was approved in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. The bill modifies the definition of synthetic marijuana and enhances the penalties for selling such substances. Although legislation to outlaw synthetic marijuana was passed last year, certain forms of synthetic cannabinoids can still be legally bought and sold in stores across Minnesota. Some dealers have already found ways around those laws by changing the chemical makeup of the drug. The bill tries to stay ahead of the production of new drugs or chemicals that are hitting the streets which should be illegal to possess or sell but currently are not. Senate File 2319 makes improvements to the current law and allows law enforcement to file charges based on the underlying structure of synthetic cannabinoids.
Ingebrigtsen can be reached at (651) 297-8063, by mail at 303 State Capitol Building, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin LutherKing Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.