For more information contact: Bennett Smith 651-296-6422
Last Wednesday we celebrated Muslim Day at the Capitol and Friday was the final House of Representatives committee deadline. The last month has been busy with committee meetings, floor sessions and many visitors from our district rallying on important issues and meeting with legislators to advocate. Thank you all for your citizen advocacy!
Now more than ever we need to stand up for the religious freedom, tolerance and inclusiveness of all people. I was proud to stand with other legislators and the Muslim community last Wednesday.
Here’s an update from the Capitol. There are several opportunities for you to get actively involved in the next week:
New Americans Listening Session - Wednesday
This week between floor sessions a diverse group of legislators is providing an opportunity for members of our communities to gather and have their voices heard on some of the issues facing New Americans. There will be a variety of legislators joining the event to learn more from the issues you bring. The event will be Wednesday, April 5, from 4:00-6:00 pm in Minnesota Senate Building, Room 1200. Call 651-296-5285 for more information. I plan to be there.
Advocacy Fair - April 8
In the last few months, I've heard from many constituents asking how they can get involved to work for public policy change. In response, legislators have put together an Advocacy Fair, to connect community members with organizations advocating for change in our community and state. The Fair will be held on Saturday, April 8, 1:00pm to 5:00pm, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (700 Snelling Ave. S.) in St. Paul and will feature nearly 20 advocacy organizations. Click here to see a flyer, and click here to see the Facebook event page.
House Omnibus Bills
The House took up the Omnibus Tax and Environment bills on Thursday and we took up the Omnibus Education and Transportation bills Friday. Every two years the majority party usually groups each part of the state budgets overseen by individual committees together and pass them as “omnibus” bills. If you would like to read more about specific omnibus bills you can click here.
Omnibus bills often include provisions that have negative impacts on the issues important to our community, even though they also often have some provisions that would be helpful. Because of the negatives, I had to vote against the first Republican sponsored omnibus bills on Transportation, Taxes, Education, and Environment last week. They may eventually come back to the House in a better version from the Senate, but here are a few of the negatives in their current form:
I will keep fighting these harmful provisions. We have a $1.65 billion budget surplus, and I believe we should be investing in families, not giving away $1.3 billion to the rich and their well-connected friends.
Positive Steps for Urban Agriculture
There were some great strides for urban agriculture in the last two weeks. My bill for the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute that will include an indoor urban farm (HF 2156) was included in the House Omnibus Jobs bill. My bill for statewide urban agriculture opportunities (HF 1461) through the Department of Agriculture made it into the House Omnibus Agriculture Finance bill. That’s important progress, but we still have more work ahead. If you care about expanding local organic food, good jobs, and environmental awareness through urban agriculture, please call Governor Dayton and encourage him to support these measures. (see contact info below)
GOVERNOR MARK DAYTON’S OFFICE
By Phone: 651-201-3400
Toll Free: 800-657-3717
Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor
130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
Other Bills Coming Up
Coming up this week, likely on Thursday, April 6, the House will be taking up the Omnibus Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy & Finance bill. This broad legislative package has some very serious environmental and housing flaws. It does, however, currently include my legislation for the MHFA Housing Rehab Program to prevent childhood toxic lead poisoning. This is the first time we would prioritize toxic lead poisoning prevention in housing with the $1 million included in the bill.
Also, my bill for Dakota and Ojibwe language preservation (HF 2127) was included in the Omnibus Legacy bill which passed the House unanimously today, which is good news.
Upcoming Town Hall Meeting
I will be organizing a town hall meeting in the coming weeks, probably in mid-April. While the details are not yet final, please stay tuned for more information about that community event. I’ll share more details as soon as they are available.
Stay in Touch
You can always contact me if you have questions or concerns at 651-296-0294 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
State Representative – District 62A
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