Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It has been another active week in St. Paul. Friday marks our second legislative deadline, which means any policy bill that may become law this year must have received a hearing in at least one committee in both the House and the Senate. Here are a couple of issues working their way through the legislative process.
Important rail safety legislation faced a key hearing in the House this week. DFL legislators were joined by emergency managers, fire fighters and residents of oil train corridors stressing the importance of emergency preparedness.
The bill increases the number of state track inspectors and requires railroad companies to notify MnDOT when hazardous materials are being carried on rail through Minnesota communities.
Were asking railroad companies to increase safety, transparency and accountability to local communities and the 326,000 Minnesotans who live within the blast zone of an oil train rail line. Minnesota emergency responders deserve greater transparency about the contents of these trains.
As you know, the Como Avenue crossing has been identified as one of the highest risk crossings in the state and requires a grade separation. Planning is underway for this dangerous crossing and I have been pushing for implementation of safety improvements on this and all routes. I will continue to advocate for these changes.
The proposed Rail Safety legislation heard this week would:
Improve Emergency Preparedness and Response plans for railroads in case of oil and hazardous substance discharge.
Expand Rail Safety Inspections and Transparency by allowing the MnDOT Commissioner to increase the number of state rail safety inspectors from three or four to nine, and add the ability for examiner to inspect train equipment. These inspections must be transparent and available for review through the MnDOT public website.
Provide Transparency and Prepare At-Risk Communities by demanding that rail carriers notify when hazardous materials, including oil, are traveling through Minnesota communities and providing information about emergency response plans.
Senior and Vulnerable Adult Fraud Prevention Bill
A bipartisan bill working its way through the committee process would implement a statewide education and outreach program to protect vulnerable adults, seniors and caregivers from financial exploitation.
According to the Investor Protection Trust, one out of every five persons over the age of 65 has been victimized by a financial swindle. One recent study estimated that older Americans are defrauded out of nearly $3 billion each year.
The outreach program described in the bill would require a one-time $500,000 appropriation, but there is potential to make the program and funding ongoing. The education and outreach program must be statewide, and is aimed to include initiatives regarding the dissemination of information through, but not limited to, television, print, or other media, and fraud training and outreach to senior living facilities.
These news items are from Representative Hausman's e-mail update. To subscribe, visit her House member web page.
A new home for the Bell Museum of Natural History and Planetarium
After a 10-year effort to construct a new facility to house the states natural history museum,
Rep. Hausman was successful in getting legislation enacted that authorizes funding for a new Bell Museum
and Planetarium. The new, revitalized Bell Museum and Planetarium will inspire generations of students to
embrace careers in the sciences, engineering, and technology. The facility will be located on the southwest
corner of Larpenteur and Cleveland Avenues in Falcon Heights adjacent to the
Picture courtesy of the Bell Museum of Natural History and Minnesota Planetarium.
Hausman tackles homelessness in Minnesota