Legislative Update on Proposed MMIW Task Force, Bill to Defund Lawsuit Against Enbridge Line 3

We are more than half-way through the Minnesota legislative session. Here are a few updates on three bills we’re watching. Note: Even if they don’t pass out of committee by deadlines, they could get added to omnibus bills during the last days of the session.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force Bill: HF70 (Chief Author Mary Kunesh-Podein-DFL-New Brighton). The bill creates the task force and requires an annual report on issues related to violence against indigenous women and girls. It’s a basic first step in addressing the problem — collecting information. It’s passed House committees and awaits a House floor vote. Senate Companion bill SF515 (Chief author Sen. Patricia Torres-Ray, DFL-Minneapolis) has not had its first committee hearing.

Bill Stiffening Penalties for Direct Action Against Crude Oil Pipelines: SF2011 (Chief Author Sen. Paul Utke, GOP-Park Rapids) Dubbed the “Worker Safety and Energy Security Act,” the bill increases penalties for pipeline protestors who damage property. According to the Senate Summary, the bill: “Adds a new felony (statutory maximum of seven years/$20,000 fine) for a person who alters the equipment or physical operations of a pipeline with intent to disrupt services and without consent.” It also “Provides that a person who enters the site or worksite of a critical public service facility, utility, or pipeline with the intent to disrupt the operation or provision of services is guilty of a five-year felony.” The bill has passed out of Senate committees and awaits a Senate floor vote.

The companion bill, HF224 (Chief Author Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul) has not had its first committee hearing.

Bill Defunding Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Legal Challenge to Enbridge Line 3: The Minnesota Department of Commerce determined that Enbridge failed to prove that its new Line 3 crude oil pipeline was needed. (Determined during the Gov. Mark Dayton administration and confirmed by the Gov. Tim Walz administration.)  Commerce is trying to overturn the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s Line e approval by suing in the Minnesota Court of Appeals. SF1757 (Chief author Utke) would ban Commerce from spending money on the lawsuit. The bill has passed out of Senate Committees and awaits a Senate floor vote.

The companion bill, HF1710 (Chief author Dan Fabian, GOP-Rosseau) has not had its first committee hearing.

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