This Year MN Legislature can address School Safety, Drunk Driving, Tobacco and More

We’ve reached the halfway point of the 2018 legislative session, and I wanted to share an update about some of the important issues I’ve been working on at the Capitol for Edina families, taxpayers, schools and citizens this session.

Anselmo_403x274.jpgFirst, one of the top concerns Edina residents are contacting me about this session is guns and school safety. As a parent and a legislator, keeping our kids safe is a top priority. That’s why I am a co-author of legislation to strengthen background checks for purchasing weapons and am advocating for commonsense gun reform at the Capitol this year.

In addition to gun law reforms, the House is advancing a comprehensive $50 million school safety package to help keep kids safe. The plan includes an array of proposals, giving districts the flexibility to assess their unique needs and fund measures that will best serve their students and schools. That can include assessing and making critical security upgrades to facilities, hiring more school counselors, bringing in a school resource officer and providing critical mental health resources for students.

Legislation I’m spearheading is included in the proposal, funding suicide prevention training for teachers that will help educators learn how to engage and assist students who are experiencing mental distress. Keeping our kids safe is a priority we all share, and I think there are a number of commonsense ideas moving forward at the Capitol this session.

Another important issue I’m working on for Minnesota kids is raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21. I’m proud to say our community is leading on this issue, and I would like the rest of the state to follow suit. If signed into law, Minnesota would be the sixth state pass Tobacco 21. My bill has garnered bipartisan support, and three-quarters of Edina residents who took my 2018 legislative survey support the measure. Tobacco 21 will help reduce the number of smokers in our state, improve the health of citizens, save taxpayers money and most importantly, save lives by reducing tobacco use for the next generation.

Next, strengthening our drunk driving laws is another important issue I’m working on this session. Legislation I introduced this year would allow for the permanent revocation of a driver’s license after a person’s fifth DWI. There is a point where we have to say ‘enough is enough,’ and I’m hopeful that strengthening our laws will curb the number of drunk drivers in Minnesota and show the serious consequence of repeatedly putting fellow motorists at risk.

In addition to public safety issues, protecting our environment is another important topic we’re tackling at the Capitol. One initiative I’m working on would help reduce salt use in the winter, which is important to protect our rivers, lakes and streams. My bipartisan bill creates a voluntary certification program for commercial salt applicators, helping local businesses use less salt—a major pollutant of Minnesota waters, while also protecting them from frivolous lawsuits. That’s a win-win for everybody.

Finally, a local issue I’m advancing with Sen. Melisa Franzen would allow our city council to approve a liquor license for the new Restoration Hardware being built on France Avenue. It’s a small bill that will strengthen our city’s standing as a retail destination in the metro.

These are just a few of the topics that I’ve been working on this session. I expect federal tax conformity and capital investment to be two more key issues lawmakers tackle in the coming weeks before the Legislature adjourns in late May.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office to share your thoughts on bills and key issues being debated at the Capitol. It’s a privilege to work for the people and priorities of Edina!

This guest column originally appeared in the Sun Current newspaper. Rep. Anselmo can be reached by phone at 651-296-4363, by email at [email protected] or by mail at 579 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, MN 55155.