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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sondra Erickson (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Friday, February 21, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

In response to a rise in violent crime in the Twin Cities and across the state, House Republicans rolled out a package of proposals at the Capitol this week aimed at improving public safety in Minnesota communities.

Taken together, our proposal targets many of the issues driving crime in the Metro area and around the state, including gang and drug trafficking activity, as well as the need for additional officers and tools for law enforcement to combat crime on the Light Rail and in communities.

Minnesotans deserve to feel safe in their communities and it’s important that the legislature partner with law enforcement to make sure they have the resources they need to do their jobs well.

2019 saw an all-time high in serious crimes committed on Metro Transit Light Rail and the Star Tribune recently reported that two thirds of neighborhoods in Minneapolis saw an increase in overall crime in 2019—including a 70 percent spike in the Minneapolis Downtown East neighborhood. St. Paul saw a doubling in the homicide rate in 2019, much of it connected to gang violence. Additionally, Minnesota’s Violence Crime Enforcement Teams saw major increases in the amounts of meth, heroin, and cocaine compared to 2018—much of it being trafficked by gangs and produced and smuggled into the United States by Mexican drug cartels. 

Proposals include:

  • Requiring cities with regional or statewide sports and entertainment facilities to have adequate law enforcement, or risk losing Local Government Aid (LGA) from the state—helping ensure folks traveling to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul is effectively protected.
  • Boosting penalties for gang members who use firearms in the commission of a crime. Currently, prosecutors are not pursuing gun charges against criminals who commit crimes using guns because the penalty level is not high enough.
  • A funding boost for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for gang and drug trafficking efforts.
  • Increasing enforcement of fare evasion, increase sworn officers for Metro Transit police and install interactive cameras on light rail platforms.
  • Prohibiting cities from disarming police officers that are in good standing. As strange as it may sound, recent Minneapolis mayoral candidates floated the possibility of disarming police officers. Our proposal would prevent that from happening.

Rural Finance Authority

On Wednesday, House Democrats unanimously voted against and blocked a proposal to move a bipartisan bill that would have allocated funds for the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) loan program, which runs out of funds on Friday, February 21st according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

It is disappointing that House Democrats have once again turned their backs on farmers and rural Minnesota by voting against this funding. The RFA is an important entity that helps farmers recover from natural disasters, and make critical equipment upgrades as they prepare for the coming growing season. Farmers can’t afford to wait any longer and need us to act as soon as possible.

The RFA partners with agricultural lenders to provide low-cost financing to farmers on terms and conditions not otherwise available from other credit sources. The RFA portion of the loan is carried at a reduced interest rate to improve the cash flow of eligible farmers. RFA offer loans within the beginning farmer loan and seller-assisted program, agricultural improvement program, debt restructuring program, and livestock expansion programs.

Staying in Touch

Please be sure to reach out to me to share any thoughts, questions, or concerns you may have related to state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Have a great weekend,

Sondra

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