Legislative Update From Senator Ruud

Greetings District 10! Here’s some current news from St. Paul. 

Senate Passes Bill—Bipartisan Support Protecting Students’ Rights to Education
The Minnesota Senate passed legislation SF2 that would remove any governor’s authority to close schools or alter school schedules via executive order. Decisions about opening and closing will be left in the hands of individual school districts moving forward, where local officials have firsthand knowledge of their students’ needs.

Our kids absolutely need to be back in classrooms. Local districts are equipped to make these choices for their staff and students—they shouldn’t have to wait for an answer from St. Paul. Evidence already suggest that schools pose a minimal risk for spreading COVID, we need to trust our local school boards to get their staff and students back in the classrooms.

The bill ensures that moving forward, no governor may use executive order authority to issue any order or to authorize the commissioner of education to alter school schedules, curtail school activities, or order schools closed.

Clean Car Emission Standards
On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee, that I chair, passed a bill that will repeal the authority of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to set automobile emissions standards. The MPCA is an unelected organization whose authority should not extend to changing existing statute. The MPCA has been using administrative loopholes to advance Governor Walz’s agenda (based on California’s needs). Minnesota has been a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the free market—and our own statutes and regulations.

Senate Aging & Long-Term Care Committee (data shows seniors not a priority)
This week, the Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, that I’m a member of, held a hearing to discuss the misallocation of vaccines. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) provided answers regarding the constantly changing information about vaccine distribution to our seniors. The MDH reports that only 5.4% of seniors 65 and older have received the complete series of two doses and seniors have received 39% of all vaccine doses available in Minnesota. On January 14, it was reported that 89% of COVID deaths were occurring in the 65 and older population. As of February 11, the data shows no improvement. As daily infections trend downward, the death rate for our most vulnerable population has remained high, showing a clear lack of prioritization for our most vulnerable population.

This hearing focused on important questions – seniors are still lacking clear and transparent answers from the Walz administration. The continual changes to vaccine distribution strategies without a major focus on our most vulnerable is a strategy for failure. As Minnesota receives more vaccines from the federal government, MDH needs to fully commit to a plan for finishing the vaccination of seniors, before adding more eligible participants. The priority should be to protect our vulnerable citizens!

MN Farmers & Landowners Enrolled in Ag Water Quality Certification Program
The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program has reached the milestone of enrolling 1,000 farmers and landowners from across the state. Now, more than 715,000 acres of land are helping to protect the state’s water resources.

The MAWQCP puts farmers in touch with local conservation district experts to identify and mitigate any risks their farm poses to water quality. Producers going through the certification process have priority access to financial assistance. After being certified, each farm is deemed in compliance with new water quality laws and regulations for 10 years.

Since the start of the program in 2014, the program has:
 – Added more than 2,050 new conservation practices
 – Kept near 38,500 tons of sediment out of Minnesota rivers
 – Saved 110,000 tons of soil and 48,500 pounds of phosphorous on farms
 – Reduced nitrogen losses by up to 49 percent
 – Reduced the equivalent of over 39,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program recognized a farmer from Aitkin County that pushed the program to the 1,000-enrollee milestone. Martin Berg, Aitkin County has 119 acres of pasture and operates the only remaining dairy in Aitkin County has a prescribed grazing plan and is very interested in using regenerative agriculture practices to leverage government funds to provide local products to food deserts. Berg is also an academic with education in livestock genetics. He and his wife have done genetic research in the U.S. and New Zealand.

Staying in Touch
Thank you for taking the time to read my legislative update. If you’re looking to hear more from the Capitol, please like me on Facebook.

As always please feel free to contact my office with any questions you might have. My office can be reached by phone at (651) 296-4913 or at sen.carrie.ruud@senate.mn.

Talk to you soon!
Carrie Ruud