For more information contact: Bennett Smith 651-296-6422
We got right back to work here at the Capitol after the Easter and Passover Holiday break. We have six weeks left in session and there is much to do.
I stuck around during our “Spring” Break, catching up on chores and hanging out with my family. This snow just doesn’t want to quit but my rescue dog, Missi, does not mind it a bit- she loves the snow! Looks like we’re not done yet…
Around the Community
I did get a visit in to Global Academy in Columbia Heights, though. I had a fabulous discussion with 4th graders on the role of a Legislator, my motivation to run, what my days are like, and many more topics. I was very impressed with their understanding of the democratic process and their insightful questions. They also sent me a pile of thank-you letters. Pretty sweet!
Equal Pay Day
April 10th marked Equal Pay Day. Equal Pay Day is the point in the year when the salaries of women finally catch up with men’s salaries from the previous year. In MN, women earn 83 cents for every dollar a man makes, and the gap is much worse for Indigenous women and women of color. We have a lot more to do to address this issue.
You can find more information here at the National Women’s Law Center.
Delay in Securing Minnesota’s Pension System
The good news is people are living longer, but the bad news is that it has made our assumptions for Minnesota’s pensions not line up with reality. Thankfully we could be on the verge of shoring up our long term pension obligations. One bipartisan fix would require workers and employers to put in a bit more, and then payout slightly less to retired workers overtime. This fix would go a long way as it cuts Minnesota’s long-term liability in half.
The Senate unanimously passed that bill two weeks ago and we’ve been awaiting action in the House. It’s looking more and more each day like House Republicans are going to hold this fix hostage in future budget negotiations. The people who work so hard for us as teachers, police officers, and fill so many of our state’s vital needs don’t deserve to be treated like hostages in some political game. Call Speaker Daudt and tell him our community doesn’t expect him to delay fixing our pension system just so he can trade our retirement security for special political favors. Call his Capitol office at 651-296-5364.
I’ll keep you up to date as the pension fix and budget negotiations move forward. You can read more about the bill in this MPR story.
Saving families money on Insurance Premiums
There was a lot of concern when news broke in the fall of 2016 that premiums for those who buy insurance on the individual market might go up as much as 50 to 60 percent. As a result we worked to pass the Premium Assistance Program in 2017. That program helped 118,000 Minnesotans and their families save on average $350 a month, or $4,200 a year, in health insurance costs.
While that’s great news, we need to do a lot more. I’m supporting the Minnesota Care Buy-In, which would give these same Minnesotans the choice to buy quality coverage at prices estimated to be 28 percent less than other commercial health plans.
Every family in Minnesota deserves access to quality, affordable healthcare. I’m committed to ensuring that’s a reality for everyone in our community and state.
It’s never easy to get a bill passed from inception to law – especially for a freshman legislator in the minority party, but I’m proud that two of my bills are moving through their committees.
Jake’s Bill HF3361
This is a bill I authored that allows for substance and opioid prevention education in our schools. It initiated when Sheri Schamus visited me and shared her story of losing her son to an overdose, how she and other family members created a foundation; For Jake’s Sake, and had the mission to get the message to students before it was too late.
I’m pleased to say that the bill has made it through the policy and finance hearings in the House and also its Senate hearing. We expect it to be part of the omnibus bills and curriculum introduced into schools for the 2019-2020 school year.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Task Force HF3375
Nationwide, Native women suffer from violence at a rate two and a half times greater than any other group. In some regions of Minnesota, Native women are murdered at rates that are more than 10 times the national average. HF 3375 calls for a task force to exclusively address the moral crisis in Minnesota. Click here to read my press release on the hearing. The St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote a moving article, click here to read it.
With incredible bipartisan support, we are waiting for a hearing in the Senate before the last deadline on April 27th. To express your support for this bill please contact the members of the Senate Judiciary & Public Safety Finance Committee and ask to schedule a hearing before time runs out.
By the time you read this update I will be on my way to the NICWA (National Indian Child Welfare Association) Conference in Anchorage, Alaska. I am fortunate to be invited to this conference and share the work we are doing in Minnesota. I’ve never visited Alaska so I’m excited to discover Anchorage and meet up with others who share my dedication to meeting the needs of all of our children, families, and communities.
As always, it’s a pleasure to be your voice at the Capitol as we work together to make sure the things our community values are a priority.
All the best,
Around the Capitol:
March for Our Lives Rally: Students from Columbia Heights joined us to share their concerns.
Doing what I love best; reading to kids!
Acknowledging our soldiers whose lives have been lost to suicide.
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