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Petitioning Donald Trump, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Department of Veterans Affairs, Alabama State Senate, Alabama State House, Alabama Governor, Florida State Senate, Florida State House, Flo...

Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!

I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to  be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2017 creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children.  John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the  life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggle to connect to their American military fathers. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017 now!

Jenifer Bass
33,208 supporters
Petitioning President of the United States

Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!

When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities

Dominick Evans
6,481 supporters
Petitioning California State Senate, California State House, Washington State Senate, Washington State House, Nevada State House, Nevada State Senate, Oregon State Senate, Oregon State House, Hawaii State Sena...

Call for Blue States to Move On

What happened to make this country the focus of judgment, laughter, and fear from the rest of the world? The industrialized world outside of the United States enjoys a better quality of life and general happiness that most of us can only imagine. First class education, comprehensive health care, clean food/water/air and an overall better relationship with their fellow citizens. And as a country, we have higher mortality rates at younger ages, poorer health, and an impoverished population who can't learn new skills without going deeper into debt. As much as we like to blame Donald Trump for our national problems; these problems were here before him, and they will still be here if Trump is removed from office tomorrow. We have a political system that centralizes power to a consolidated political center in Washington, DC and an economic center in New York City. Our Electoral System will isolate the power to determine the direction of our political system to a very small, easily manipulated portion of the electorate in strategic location. Worst of all, we have a large portion of the population who will empower a mentally unstable man to the highest office in the world; just so they can say “We Won”. This group is constantly complaining about a simple world with plentiful jobs in their communities that are extinct or never really existed. And now, they have the nerve to complain about losing the federal government programs they benefitted from and voted against. It's time we said “ENOUGH” and have Progressive States and Communities band together and share resources and ideas to provide a better quality of life for its people, that the Trump Administration wants to take away. And furthermore, we need to ensure that we only support States and Communities who will change their policies for its people. We can no longer provide assistance to Red States, just so they can abuse and neglect their citizens for business interests.    For the future of this nation, we need to explore every legal method possible to protect the people from an extremely dangerous President Trump.    A Values Based Alliance of the States (VBAS) is one way of resisting this new reality of government, and the dangerous changes that we all know are inevitable. I understand that the constitution will not allow us to directly stop this monstrosity, but it will allows us to devalue it. A VBAS of certain states with similar values and policy preferences can and will use its population centers and economic influence to co-op, share resources, and implement policies with other co-opted states, while not having to depend on or engage the federal government.  Examples:  There are certain states with a majority of people that believe single payer healthcare system (CA, MA, VT, NY, WA, OR, IL, HI.). If those states passed laws to provide single payer health care for it’s people, a Single Payer Healthcare VBAS organization of those states can share resources to improve efficiencies, expand medical training/education amongst the co-opted states, negotiate pharmaceutical/treatment, amend needed tax policies and petition the US Government. This would also force neighboring states to decide if they want to change their internal policies to provide single payer, so they can join the Health Care VBAS. A resident of Indiana might ask his state to join the VBAS, because he could literally see his next door neigbor in Illinois fully covered, and using a Doctor that just came back from his training at a medical school in California. Although the VBAS states can not legally sign the Paris accords, they can change their internal policies to abide by its recommendations. There could be an environmental protection VBAS, where the states involved agree to abide by the Paris accords, improve safety protocols within its states, take climate change seriously, and provide economic preference to states and nations that do the same. CA, OR, NY, MA, VT, WA HI, and NV could agree to be a preferred customer of states or nations that voluntarily reduces its carbon emissions and address climate change, instead of LA or TX, which most likely will not. Other issues could include minimum wage, education, trade agreements, gun control and virtually every policy not adjudicated solely to the federal government. As more VBASes are organized and more states agree to join them, Donald Trump and the ignorance of future presidents become less and less relevant. Please sign this petition and pass it on to as many people as possible. 

Blake Green
5,395 supporters
Petitioning Minnesota State House, Minnesota State Senate, Connecticut State Senate, Connecticut State House, Illinois State House, Illinois State Senate, Maine State House, Maine State Senate

Abolish the statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault

The historic trial of Bill Cosby for his acts of sexual violence took place this month. While more than 60 women have spoken out against him, Cosby only faced trial for the criminal violence he committed against a single woman. The law that exists preventing many survivors from prosecuting Cosby for the crimes perpetrated against them is a law that still exists in 30 states including Maine, Illinois, Connecticut, and Minnesota. Cosby survivor and artist Lili Bernard shares her story: "In the early 1990s, Bill Cosby mentored me as I prepared for my guest-starring role on The Cosby Show. After he had won my complete trust and adoration, he drugged me and raped me. When I told him that I would report him to the police, he threatened serious consequences to my life. In 1992, during our last contact, he said to me, “As far as I’m concerned, Bernard, you’re dead. Do you hear me? You’re dead, Bernard. You don’t exist.” I interpreted that as a death threat and feared for my life. In the spring of 2015, empowered by dozens of brave women who publicly disclosed the abuse they suffered at the hands of Bill Cosby, I finally shed the fear and filed a police report against him in the state of New Jersey, in which an assault occurred. However, despite the evidence I saved and the witnesses willing to testify on my behalf, Cosby could not be considered for prosecution because the assault occurred a few months outside of the statute of limitations." Statutes of limitations on rape and sexual assaults are a predator’s best friend and a victim’s worst nightmare. An overwhelming amount of sexual violence -- an estimated 63% -- goes unreported and a pervasive rape culture is responsible. As we work to reduce the impact of social silencing mechanisms, we must dually eliminate laws that bar many sexual assault survivors from seeking the justice they deserve. The election to the highest office in our country of Donald J. Trump - a known sexual predator - cast a great shadow over justice for survivors of sexual assault. It is incumbent upon us all, now more than ever, to take real action to show our country’s most vulnerable that we stand with them. In September 2016, California became the 20th state to abolish the timeline for reporting rape and sexual assault. The bill - which does not change the burden of evidence required to press charges - passed the Senate and Assembly unanimously before being signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. Senator Connie Leyva, who filed the bill, said that it "shows victims and survivors that California stands behind them, that we see rape as a serious crime, that victims can come forward and that justice now has no time limit.” Senator Leyva was recently recognized by the California Women’s Law Center for her work on the legislation. Elected Representatives - if there is one thing you could do to push back against the rape culture further enabled by the current White House administration, it would be to ensure that justice is served in your state. Abolish the statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault in your state, and ensure that every survivor has a chance at justice in our legal system.  Justice knows no time limit. 

End Rape Statute of Limitations
4,495 supporters
Petitioning Mark Dayton, Al Franken, Minnesota State House, Minnesota State Senate

Having the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament be a state holiday in Minnesota

We as Minnesotans like our events, for example the Minnesota State Fair.  Minnesota is the State of Hockey, and we all know as students, workers, as Minnesotans, that the State High School Hockey Tournament is probably the biggest.  Let's be honest, how many students, as well as workers, are watching it more than what they are supposed to be doing when it is on?  I don't see it as a bad thing, but I have heard from MANY people when asked about The Tourney, say something like "It should be a state holiday" or "We shouldn't even have school." So I am asking that The Tourney become a state holiday so that all of us Minnesotans can relax and enjoy themselves, their family, as well as their fellow classmates and friends, for those three days we all love SO much.  Students don't have to worry about school and workers get time off. It would be another "great Minnesota get together" we would all enjoy!

Daniel Daugherty
3,650 supporters
Petitioning Minnesota State Senate

Legalize darker window tint

Minnesota has one of the most restrictive automotive tint laws in the country, and tint tickets start at over $100 dollars.  One more thing to add.  Right now current tint laws allow for a 3% + / - before you get a ticket or fine.  To account for tint built into the window from the factory, I propose the 3% be changed 8% + / -. Ignorance may be no excuse, but many people getting pulled over weren't even aware that they were breaking a law, and are hardly criminals. Such a strict law hurts citizens interested in investing in the benefits window film can provide:           -Adds crash safety from passenger ejection and shattered glass           -Reduces the sun's glare, helping prevent accidents due to excess glare           -Blocks 99.9% of UV radiation           -Keeps vehicles more comfortable by reducing solar heat gain           -Adds privacy for drivers, passengers and belongings           -Discourages smash and grab theft           -Helps protect interiors from fading           -Eliminates the need for mounted shades, which can become dangerous projectiles in the case of an accident This law has also been devastating to local shops across the state. Why hurt Minnesotan businesses when customers can just go across the border or to a back alley to get a tint job done? All we want is a 35% limit, which is more in line with 47 other states. 35% is dark enough to allow Minnesotans the full benefits of window film, but light enough that our police officers can feel safe.

john hartmann
2,697 supporters
Petitioning Mark Dayton, Minnesota State House, Minnesota State Senate, Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, Frank Hornstein, Mark Uglem, Peggy Flanagan, Jerry Hertaus, Erik Paulsen, David Osmek

Initiate Hands Free Driving in Minnesota

We’ve all heard it before, “Don’t text and drive,” but many teens and adults don’t really take this statement to heart. As I was sitting at the stoplight at Minnetonka Boulevard and Highway 100 earlier this evening, I looked around to see if people were on their phones. Stunningly, every single person sitting in the driver's seat was looking at a phone. I was astonished that people young and old could not put down their phones for just a few minutes as they drove home from work or to their nightly activities. Is the text, email, or Snapchat really that urgent? If it is, please pull into a parking lot. As many of you know, Officer William Matthews recently died on the side of Highway 12, after being hit by a woman who was on her phone while driving. Although I never met Officer Matthews personally, I have heard he was a kindhearted man who loved his job and family. His wife Shawn works at our school and she never fails to brighten my day when I see her. We have seen each other nearly every day for the past four years, and she consistently greets me with a smile and asks, “Hi, how are you doing Katie?”. She checks in to see how my sports are going and is always encouraging and kind, even if I am disappointed. Shawn shows a genuine interest in my life, and it is people like her that make St. Louis Park a great place to grow up. My heart aches for Shawn and her son. She is young, but already a widow, living without the person she vowed to love for the rest of her life. Their son Wyatt will grow up without a father to read to with him at night, cheer him on at sporting events, see him graduate high school, or celebrate when he gets married and has children. Shawn and Wyatt will live through these moments and years with a void in their lives, for one reason: someone could not put down their phone while driving. It is unconscionable to prioritize a text message or Snapchat ahead of a lifetime of lost memories for a family. I vow to NEVER use my cell phone while driving, not even to change the song on the aux cord, or look at directions. If something is really that important, I will pull over. If I need directions, I will turn on the audio version before I begin driving. I will never hold my cell phone in my hand while I am behind the wheel. Driving comes with responsibilities and staying safe is number one. Now I ask something of each of you. Please join me. By making this pledge your name will be added to my petition asking Minnesota legislators and Governor Dayton to pass a hands-free law for drivers. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia already have similar laws.  It is time for Minnesota to take this important step too.  If we do, thousands of senseless tragedies can be avoided in the future. Please join me in petitioning the next session of the Minnesota Legislature to pass a hands-free bill. All you have to do is electronically sign your name using the link below. Your action and commitment to this cause can help prevent tragedies for people like Officer Matthews, or others in your own circle of family and friends. If at any time in the future you consider picking up that text message or Snapchatting while driving, please remember Officer Matthews’ widow Shawn and their fatherless son Wyatt. You do not want to be responsible for such a tragedy. Dear Legislators, Please pass the hands free driving bill proposed in the 2017 session, during the 2018 session of the Minnesota Legislature. Please remember Officer William Matthews when you vote on this important and life-saving bill.

Katie Fredrickson
2,571 supporters
Petitioning Minnesota State House, Mark Dayton, Minnesota State Senate

DON'T ABOLISH PERPICH CENTER FOR ARTS EDUCATION

There is a bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives being introduced to have the "Perpich Center for Arts Education abolished". See: HF 1825 (90th Legislature, 2017 - 2018) This school has been an invaluable resource to thousands of children who want to make art the focus of their lives and/or future careers. Whatever problems there are within the inner-workings of the institution can and should be solved without totally refusing this center for arts education to future generations. Abolishing this unique school would be a true disservice to Minnesota's youth. I know the untold psychological benefits of this school personally because attending it in the late nineties introduced me to friends who I still collaborate on art projects with and saved me from a school which instead locked its students indoors and put great emphasis on sports *shudders*. We need more art schools, not less. Young artists don't have it easy, please don't limit their options but instead encourage them to thrive and wave that freak flag high.

Andy Schuler
2,252 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Mark Dayton, Joe Atkins, James P. Metzen, Ron Latz, John Kline, Minnesota State House, Minnesota State Senate, Minnesota Governor

Minnesota Lawmakers: A request to Impose "Cameron Norris Law" as New Child Homicide Law

https://youtu.be/WmhYqntlFjY?list=FL_kuA4kWArUtz6GBNKmCmVA Cameron's Law - Mandatory Life, if convicted of killing a child Attention to the Lawmakers of Minnesota I am respectfully asking that you consider imposing Cameron Norris's Law into Minnesota homicide statutes as a new Child Homicide Law.   Hello Supporters,  Thank you for your support and welcome to Cameron Norris Law's Petition.....Please read, so you can fully understand what it is I am asking from Law makers.                                     Why Cameron's Law? My name is Cynthia Sweats, a resident of Minnesota, and I am fighting for the lives and rights of children that are victimized and ultimately murdered at the hands of an adult.  I am a survivor of losing my baby to murder. Cameron Norris, was 3 years old when his light left this world and devastated my entire existence. I trusted Samuel Christopher Jones, a longtime family friend to watch Cameron for me so I could go to work. Samuel Jones brutally and violently beat Cameron to death on February 7, 2003. Today in 2017, he is a free man. There was and still is, no true justice in my son's case.  Each new story of a child being murdered I would see, broke my heart all over again. I prayed to God about the terrible feelings I had tugging at my heart. Before too long, a strong passion began to grow inside me.  In April of 2013, I began a page on Facebook called Fighting for Cameron and Kids. My mission is to enforce a child murder law called "Cameron Norris Law", that fully protects the lives and the rights of the child(ren) that has been fatally victimized. Minnesota does not have a child murder law. Furthermore, Minnesota's murder laws are not harsh enough on offenders who murder children. Cameron Norris Law will fulfill that much needed void missing. Cameron Norris Law's aim is to provide justice for innocent children.  The loss of Cameron and so many other children greatly matter, and unfortunately so many children, including my son, have not had justice.  The parents are left empty and feel unjustified. Offenders are not held fully accountable for the murder of an innocent child. My objective is to make sure the adults that commit the homicide of a child, is held fully accountable for what they have done.                          Why I am Not Fighting for The Death Penalty Minnesota’s death penalty law was abolished on April 22, 1911. Minnesota does not agree with the death penalty and will not enforce it. Therefore, I must respect this law.  So moving forward, it’s important to keep the focus on fighting for a life term of imprisonment as a punishable sentence for offenders that are found guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt in court, of murdering a child.                                The Details of Cameron Norris Law In an initial investigation of a child homicide under Cameron Norris's Law, the suspect will automatically be charged with first degree homicide. The offender then has two choices to make.  The first choice, the offender can choose, is to fight against the case in court with a lawyer, prosecutor, judge, and jury of his/her peers and be found guilty or not guilty of the homicide.  If the offender is found guilty, he/she will be sentenced by a judge to life in prison, without the possibility of parole. This is a mandatory sentence for the convicted.  The second choice is a plea bargain to a lesser charge, of second degree "Intentional" homicide. The offender will be informed in great detail of what "Cameron Norris's Law" is. The offender must willingly agree to the plea deal with a signature and also give the prosecution a full admission of guilt and the detailed events that led up to the homicide of the said child in question.                                      Plea Bargain Sentence The mandatory sentence for this plea bargain agreement is 50 years Maximum and 40 years minimum, with "Good Time" after serving 26 years. The offender must agree to the sentence guidelines, requirements and stipulations in the plea deal and agree to complete the deal in full, or they will forfeit it completely.                                  Plea Deal Rules and Requirements                                          Make your "Time" Count The requirements of the offender during his/her prison stay are as follows: **Mandatory rule is for offender is to always remain law abiding, and avoid trouble at all costs. A negative disciplinary record will not be tolerated and due to an offenders bad behavior, he/she has the power to forfeit the entire plea deal on their own actions**.                                          Phases of Plea Deal Phase 1: The offender must commit to extensive therapy. The offender must attend weekly visits, no missed appointments, weekly updates, and no negative reviews from psychologist about progress. Offender cannot have negative reviews such as; refusal to talk, abusive or offensive language, endangering their wellbeing, being insubordinate and hard to work with. Offender must be willing to hold accountability for his/her crime and really want to change and be a better person. Their progress and actions will speak for itself.  Phase 2: The offender will be given a job and maintain the job given. Offender will go to work as scheduled, do his/her job as instructed, and then return to their designated block after work. Offender must follow all rules and stay law abiding. Once Phase 1 and 2 is going well for a substantial amount of time, the offender can move forward on to phase 3.  Phase 3: The offender must get an education. The offender must earn a degree or learn a trade to use later in time. (If permitted). Offender must be maintaining a good disciplinary record, abiding by phase 1 and 2 while being a good student with acceptable grades, in phase 3 of education. Once phase 3 of education is complete, Then, the offender can move forward to phase 4.  Phase 4: The offender must face the parents of the child he/she killed in a mediation court. The offender will be required to write a full page letter and read it out loud to the parents and family that attend. The offender will first begin by holding him/herself accountable for the homicide of the child, how he/she understands the irreversible damage that has been caused to those who loved the child and a heartfelt apology to the parents and family. The focus of this requirement is mainly for the family, but also for the offender to have closure.  In a case where the family is not ready or willing to meet with the offender, the offender must still write the one page letter and have the letter delivered to the family via mail. A victim or family members will never be required to meet with the offender. It is the requirement of the offender only, to reach out to the family to face what they have done. Only offender must hold one hundred percent accountability for the homicide of said child.                            Phases and Requirements Complete Once all phases are accomplished after 26 years is served of the 40 year minimum sentence, he/she will go up for a parole hearing.  If offender has made his/her time count, and proved themselves by staying law abiding, no or very low disciplinary record, and have achieved all phases, the offender can be granted parole.  Under Cameron Norris's Law there are strict requirements for those paroled for the homicide of a child. Cameron Norris's Law believes that the offender should pay it forward, and the offender will be given an organized purpose, and structured living system.  The offenders will receive small accommodations to help get him/her on the right path in living back in society. A parole officer will be assigned and offender must follow all parole requirements, and still remain law abiding. Infractions will not be tolerated.  However, while the offender is on parole for the remaining 24 years, he/she must not have any parole violations. If parole is violated, offender will be sent back to prison for life term, for failing to complete Plea Deal.                                          Forfeiture of Plea Deal Offenders Who Do Not Meet Parole Agreement:  If an offender is granted parole, and does not remain law abiding and fails to complete all requirements of parole, he/she will forfeit the plea bargain and be sent back to prison for a term of life in prison, without the possibility of parole.  Offenders Who Do Not Meet Agreement in Plea Deal: If all phases and requirements are NOT met within the 40 year minimum sentence (good time of 26 years), the offender will forfeit his/her parole hearing and will have to complete the remaining 24 (max of 50) years and wait for the next parole hearing. Once the remaining 24 years is reached (max of 50 years), the offender will have a second chance to go before the parole board. If at this time, the offender has still not complied with all phases and requirements of his/her agreement in the plea bargain, he/she will forfeit the whole deal and will remain in prison for a life term without the possibility of parole.                           Request To Remove "Good Time Served" I am also requesting that lawmakers have "Good Time Served" removed for Cameron Norris's law. The reason I am requesting this is because Minnesota has a 2/3rds "Good Time Served" law for all inmates that are not serving a life term in prison.  So within Cameron Norris's Law, I am asking for the offender that accepts the Plea Deal to serve 2/3rds of the 40 years minimum sentence. This will be a total of 26 years, if the offender completes all requirements successfully, they can be granted parole.  Inmates will only have one shot at receiving "good time served", under this Plea Deal. If they do not complete the requirements in 26 years, they will remain in prison for the remaining 24 years, a total of 50 years.  Once 50 years is reached the offender will have a chance to go before the parole board a second time. He/she must by this time, have completed all requirements of the plea deal, or they will not be granted parole and will remain in prison for a life term.                             THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT Please help me in this fight for Cameron Norris's Law, Sign the Petition and SHARE with all who you know, God bless!!         

FIGHTING FOR CAMERON AND KIDS
2,076 supporters
Victory
Petitioning Minnesota State Legislators

Minnesota State Legislators: Revise the MN Cottage Food Law for Home Bakers

The amending of this law will help create employment opportunities for state residents and would give Home Bakers permission to use residential kitchens for the purpose of selling non-potentially-hazardous bakery products, such as, but not limited to: breads, cakes, doughnuts, pastries, buns, rolls, cookies, biscuits, and pies (except meat or cream pies). It is acknowledged that the cottage food laws may require food processors to obtain a food handlers license. The amending of this law would help individuals supplement their incomes. This law will also allow small commercial bakery owners to operate from a home-based location should their business revenues start to decline due to changes in the economy.

S. Erickson
1,698 supporters
Fix U.S. Highway 14

Thank you for letting me know that you signed the “Fix U.S. Highway 14” petition on Change.org. I share your strong support for investments in this highway, which is why as Speaker of the House I was pleased to support the “Corridors of Commerce” program during the 2013 legislative session. The Minnesota Department of Transportation website explains, “The 2013 Minnesota Legislature created the Corridors of Commerce program by authorizing the sale of up to $300 million in new bonds for the construction, reconstruction and improvement of trunk highways. The legislation establishes two major goals: to provide additional highway capacity on segments where there are currently bottlenecks in the system, and to improve the movement of freight and reduce barriers to commerce.” U.S. Highway 14 will receive a good chunk of these funds, including the recently announced MnDOT FY2015 funding:  Purchase right of way for expansion between Dodge Center and Owatonna ($7.3 million)  Preliminary design work for Highway 14 and Highway 15 intersection in New Ulm ($700,000) In addition, Highway 14 will also benefit from these future projects:  The three- mile stretch east of Owatonna from Highway 218 to Steele County Road 43 (completion scheduled for 2015)  The four lane upgrade between North Mankato and Nicollet (construction slated for 2015-2016)  The four lane bypass of Nicollet (construction slated for 2015) While these upgrades are much needed and welcome, clearly more work remains to make the entire stretch of Highway 14 from Owatonna to Mankato a safe, reliable roadway. I look forward to supporting significant, smart investments in our state’s roads and bridges, which will undoubtedly be a top priority of the 2015 Minnesota Legislature. Thank you again for your input. Please always feel free to contact me whenever I can be of assistance. Paul

— Paul Thissen, State Representative
3 years ago
Protect the Mortgage Interest Deduction for Minnesota Homeowners!

Thank you for contacting me about the mortgage interest tax deduction. I agree with you about the critical importance of homeownership, especially after the challenge of the economic recession of the last several years. You will be glad to know that there was no consideration in the 2013-14 legislative session of any proposals to change the mortgage interest deduction. However, we did make changes that will increase the property tax refund for many homeowners this year. Over the last two years we worked to balance the budget in a structurally sound way. Those changes—and the improving national economy—also allowed us to shore-up the state’s “rainy day fund.” As a result, it is unlikely that we will need to limit the mortgage interest deduction to balance the budget. In previous sessions, I and other House DFLers supported proposals to reform the mortgage interest deduction by turning it into a credit that is actually more valuable to homeowners. In order to benefit from the Minnesota mortgage interest deduction, the taxpayer must itemize deductions. But almost half of Minnesota homeowners who pay interest on their mortgages do not itemize. Those Minnesota homeowners who pay mortgage interest get no benefit from the deduction. In addition, Minnesota’s mortgage interest deduction has an “upside-down” impact in which upper income earners benefit more than middle and lower income earners. In fact, over three-quarters of the benefit of the mortgage interest deduction goes to households with income in the top fifth of all taxpayers. These are not the people we usually worry about keeping in their homes. During the 2009-2010 legislative session, the House passed a tax bill that would have converted the current tax deduction into a credit so that all taxpayers would qualify for an equal percentage tax benefit. This would not have impacted the federal mortgage interest deduction, which represents most of the tax benefit for homeowners; it only impacted the much smaller state portion. The House bill created a credit that would provide the same benefit for everyone, up to $10,000 of interest. With this credit, even owners of million dollar homes would receive the benefit on the first $10,000 of interest; they just wouldn’t receive a tax subsidy on the entire amount of their million-dollar mortgage. However, this provision was ultimately not enacted in the final version of the tax bill. Thanks again for contacting me. Warmly, Tina Liebling State Representative

— Tina Liebling, State Representative
3 years ago
MN Legislature: Make transportation a priority in 2014

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for more funding for Minnesota’s transportation infrastructure. I appreciate and value your input. Our roads, bridges, and highways form the nucleus of our state, while mass transit serves to alleviate stress and congestion on that nucleus. A 2013 MnDOT-commissioned study entitled “Assessing Return on Investment in Minnesota’s State Highway Program” (http://www.dot.state.mn.us/minnesotago/pdf/2013/MnDOTFinalReport.pdf) indicates we need $12 billion invested over 20 years to stay even when it comes to upkeep on our current infrastructure and to position our state to be economically competitive. This year a broad-based coalition of transportation advocacy groups and 150 member organizations--including the Transportation Alliance, Association of Minnesota Counties, IUOE 49ers, Laborers Union, and the League of Minnesota Cities--have created a coalition entitled MoveMN, an effort designed to advance a transportation funding package. Their work is greatly Appreciated. Representative Frank Hornstein, Chair of the House Transportation Finance Committee, is authoring HF 2395, an ambitious transportation funding bill that is an outgrowth of the MoveMN effort. I’m pleased to report that the bill passed out of the House Transportation Committee. Unfortunately, no Republicans supported the bill and the main voice for businesses in the state, The Minnesota Chamber, refused to support it as well. We need everyone engaged to make meaningful reform. I look forward to the debate this session on how we can make significant and smart investments in our transportation infrastructure. Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind. Thank you again for writing. Sincerely, Paul Thissen State Representative

— Paul Thissen, State Representative
4 years ago
Make transportation a priority in 2014 in Districts 60A and 63A

Thank you for letting me know that you signed the MoveMN petition for funds for Minnesota’s transportation infrastructure in Minnesota. I appreciate and value your input. And I commend Move MN’s willingness to step forward with a potential solution. There is no doubt about the need for a comprehensive transportation solution in Minnesota. A 2013 MnDOT-commissioned study entitled “Assessing Return on Investment in Minnesota’s State Highway Program” (http://www.dot.state.mn.us/minnesotago/pdf/2013/MnDOTFinalReport.pdf) indicates we need $12 billion invested over 20 years to maintain our current infrastructure and to position our state to be economically competitive. The Move MN coalition proposal provides one potential solution to the challenge. I think more discussion is needed to assess if the fuel tax and sales tax proposed by the coalition are the best, most stable revenue sources into the future. We also need to engage average Minnesotans more deeply and build the coalition to include statewide business voices and bipartisan support for any package. I look forward to continuing the discussion. Sincerely, Paul Thissen State Representative

— Paul Thissen, State Representative
4 years ago
Construct an interchange at the intersection of TH 14/TH 111/CSAH 23 in conjunction with the 2015-2016 four lane expansion project of Highway 14.

Thank you for signing the petition in support of a full interchange at the intersection of Hwy 14 and 111 in Nicollet. I agree with you that a full interchange is needed. I expressed that at the Dec. 16 meeting in Nicollet and I have communicated that with the regional director for MNDOT. Furthermore, I will communicate that directly with Governor Dayton. We have experienced too much sorrow with the fatalities that have resulted from an unsafe Hwy 14. Nowhere has that been more deeply felt than in the community of Nicollet. MNDOT acknowledges that a full interchange will be up to two times safer than their proposal for a reduced conflict intersection (RCUT). Furthermore, the state has allocated funds associated with the Corridors of Commerce Program. The idea is to increase mobility in the region to promote commerce. The RCUT would fundamentally create a barrier to commerce as it would impede the north/south flow of traffic on Hwy 111 and CSAH 23 diminishing the value of the recent rebuilding of the bridge at Judson. There is a range of funds allocated through the Corridors of Commerce for the Nicollet bypass that can pay for the full interchange. We need to do this project right the first time. The way to do that is to build a full interchange at Hwys 14 and 111. I will continue to work hard to support the full interchange. We all need to work together to get this accomplished. Rep. Clark Johnson

— Clark Johnson, State Representative
4 years ago
Minnesota Senate and House Leaders: Protect Children From Dangerous Anti-Gay Conversion Therapy

Thank you for your email in support of banning the use of “gay conversion” therapy. I appreciate you sharing your perspective, and wanted to just drop you a short note to let you know that I agree with you completely. As you may have heard, two federal courts recently weighed in on this issue. Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Freda Wolfson upheld New Jersey’s ban on the use of such therapies for minors. Specifically, Judge Wolfson ruled that states do have the authority to prohibit mental health professionals from employing those types of “treatments.” That decision follows on the heals of a ruling in August by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a similar ban by the state of California. Enclosed are two news articles that discuss the courts’ decisions. I thought you might like to read them. I was pleased to see Judge Wolfson and the 9th Circuit reject the challenges to California’s and New Jersey’s statutes. I hope this assures you that I share your concern, and am supportive of efforts to address the issue here in Minnesota. Again, thank you for contacting me. Please stay in touch. I value your input and would welcome hearing from you anytime. Sincerely, Paul Thissen State Representative Enclosure (2) Judge dismisses lawsuit against N.J. gay-to-straight conversion therapy ban By Susan K. Livio/The Star-Ledger November 08, 2013 at 6:41 PM, updated November 11, 2013 at 11:44 AM TRENTON — A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit challenging the legality of New Jersey's newly enacted ban on gay-to-straight conversion therapy for minors, saying the law does not violate anyone's freedom of speech or religion. Days after Gov. Chris Christie signed the law in August, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Tara King, a therapist in Brick, Ronald Newman, a therapist in Linwood, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, and the American Association for of Christian Counselors. They argued the law violated their responsibility to their clients who wanted the treatment. They also contend the terms "sexual orientation" and the phrase "sexual orientation change efforts" are too vague to be understood and enforced. In a separate lawsuit, a South Jersey 15-year-old boy and his parents claimed the law interferes with teenager's "right to self-determination and the parents’ fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their children." U.S. District Court Judge Freda Wolfson , who presides in Trenton, disagreed. "Having found that the statute only regulates conduct, and not speech in any constitutionally protected form, Plaintiffs’ arguments regarding the statute" being overly broad "are largely irrelevant," according to her decision. Nothing in the law "prevents licensed professionals from voicing their opinions on the appropriateness or efficacy of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, either in public or private settings," according to Wolfson's opinion. The law prevents any licensed therapist, psychologist, social worker or counselor from using sexual orientation change efforts with children under age 18. Offenders jeopardize their licensed status for violating the law, which does not apply to clergy or anyone who is not licensed by the state. Supporters of the law cite position papers by the American Psychological Association and other professional organizations that question the efficacy of the treatment and criticize the practice as emotionally demoralizing and damaging. “The court’s decision today is a huge victory for New Jersey youth. This law will save lives by protecting young people them from these horrible and damaging practices,” said Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Garden State Equality, the civil rights organization that fought to get the ban enacted. "Today a federal judge agreed that the abuse has to stop," according to a Garden State Equality's Facebook page posted at about 5:30 p.m. "We won summary judgment, and the opposition's case to overturn the ban was dismissed. Thank you to Assemblyman Tim Eustace for championing this legislation and to The State of New Jersey, and our attorney's at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gluck-Walrath, and Kirkland & Ellis, for making sure the ban stands." New Jersey is the second state in the nation to therapy that purports to change a child's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. California enacted the first ban, but Liberty Counsel, a national religious-based legal and public policy group, filed an injunction it before it took effect earlier this year. A judge later upheld the law. The plaintiffs' attorney could not be reached for comment. California gay conversion therapy ban upheld By Howard Mintz hmintz@mercurynews.com San Jose Mercury News Posted: 8/29/13 MercuryNews.com California's unprecedented ban on gay conversion therapy for minors is back on the books. In a decision that could spark a U.S. Supreme Court review, a federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the state's new law barring the practice of counseling minors to convert from homosexuality, rejecting the free speech and religious rights arguments of therapists and families who support the practice. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously concluded that the ban, the first of its kind in the nation, did not violate the free speech rights of therapists and was within the state's authority to outlaw medical or mental health practices it considers harmful to minors. The court also rejected the argument the law interferes with parents' rights to seek such counseling for their children. "Fundamental rights of parents do not include the right to choose a specific type of provider for a specific medical or mental health treatment that the state has reasonably deemed harmful," 9th Circuit Judge Susan Graber wrote for the three-judge panel. In two separate cases, a group of therapists and families sued over the ban, arguing that it violates the free speech rights of therapists to discuss gay conversion with young patients and tramples on parents' religious freedom to seek therapy to convert their children from homosexuality. The law barred licensed mental health professionals from using the therapy on youths under the age of 18. One federal judge had blocked enforcement of the law while the case is on appeal, while another refused to issue an injunction. The 9th Circuit has now lifted the injunction against the ban, although the therapists and families can ask the court to reconsider the case with an 11-judge panel. The Pacific Justice Institute, one of the organizations challenging the ban, vowed to appeal. "This decision is a dark day for those who believe in the First Amendment and the right of parents over the proper upbringing of their children," said Brad Dacus, the institute's president. Opponents of the ban have expressed concern that other states would follow California if courts uphold the law. In fact, while the 9th Circuit was considering the case, New Jersey recently adopted a similar ban on gay conversion therapy, and that law has been challenged in federal court. California legislators and gay rights advocates sought to abolish the therapy for minors, arguing that it stigmatizes youths and can lead to depression and even suicide. Gay rights groups praised the decision, as did some of the individuals who were forced to undergo the therapy and testified about its harmful effects. "My first response at hearing (about the ruling) was chills and tears," said James Guay, a pastor's son who lived in San Francisco for 20 years until recently moving to West Hollywood. "This barbaric treatment has been deemed ineffective and likely harmful by all the legitimate medical and mental health associations." Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at

— Paul Thissen, State Representative
4 years ago
Fix U.S. Highway 14

Thank you for letting me know that you signed the “Fix U.S. Highway 14” petition on Change.org. I appreciate your input and share your strong support for investments in this highway, which is why I was pleased to support the “Corridors of Commerce” program during the 2013 legislative session. The Minnesota Department of Transportation website explains, “The 2013 Minnesota Legislature created the Corridors of Commerce program by authorizing the sale of up to $300 million in new bonds for the construction, reconstruction and improvement of trunk highways. The legislation establishes two major goals: to provide additional highway capacity on segments where there are currently bottlenecks in the system, and to improve the movement of freight and reduce barriers to commerce.” U.S. Highway 14 will receive almost one-fourth (up to $73 million) of these funds for the following work: • The three- mile stretch east of Owatonna from Highway 218 to Steele County Road 43 (construction scheduled for 2014) • The four lane upgrade between North Mankato and Nicollet (construction slated for 2015) • The four lane bypass of Nicollet (construction slated for 2015) While these three upgrades are much needed and welcome, clearly more work remains to make the entire stretch of Highway 14 from Owatonna to Mankato a safe, reliable roadway. I will continue to support efforts to fix this road. Thank you again for your input. Please always feel free to contact me whenever I can be of assistance. Sincerely, Paul Thissen State Representative

— Paul Thissen, State Representative
4 years ago
Fix U.S. Highway 14

Dear Friend, Thank you very much for signing the petition in support of fixing Highway 14. As Chair of the House Committee on Transportation Finance, I often hear about corridors around our state that are in dire need of attention. We created the Corridors of Commerce program during the 2013 legislative session to address these dangerous roads that need repairs. Moving people and goods around the state is central to our economic success. To do this we need safe and adequate roads. During the last legislative session we were able to make a "down payment" on the Corridors of Commerce Program and Highway 14 received some funding under the initial Corridors of Commerce allocation. I recognize that this is only the beginning and I remain committed to developing a comprehensive funding package that contains significant new revenue for roads and bridges across the state. It is my hope that, with the support of Minnesotans like you, we can develop a funding package to repair and upgrade the unsafe roads and outdated bridges in Greater Minnesota. Thank you again for voicing your support for a fix to Highway 14. Please feel free to contact me again with other transportation related issues, comments or concerns. Sincerely, Frank Hornstein State Representative, District 61A

— Frank Hornstein, State Representative
4 years ago