About a month remains in the legislative session. The third and final committee deadline passed on Friday. Most finance bills are now passed out of their respective committees. Session will move quickly for the next four weeks. Last week I joined Mary Lahammer from TPT’s Almanac at the Capitol program to discuss the budget. You can watch that segment here.
Also last week, I joined other legislators on Pioneer Public TV’s ‘Your Legislators’ program to discuss session priorities. You can watch that segment here.
Fighting for Clean Water Protections
Last week the Minnesota House passed a Republican-authored bill 69 to 57 to prohibit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) from implementing proposed rules for nitrogen fertilizer use. These rules, authorized under 1989’s Groundwater Protection Act, would protect Minnesota’s water resources by minimizing nitrate pollution. Far too many Minnesotans are facing unsafe drinking water, and it is critical that areas highly susceptible to pollution have a few ground rules for how and when to apply fertilizers that can lead to contaminated drinking water. Even a large number of Republicans voted against stopping these groundwater protections.
Governor Mark Dayton delivered a letter indicating he’d veto the bill.
Governor Dayton Urges Action
Last week, Governor Dayton sent a letter to legislative leaders outlining the need for a smooth process to end the session. He asked that items with bipartisan agreement--protecting vulnerable seniors, addressing the opioid crisis, making schools safer, and shoring up state pensions--be passed now. He also stressed that he would not accept shifts, gimmicks, cuts, or false financial assumptions that would undo the hard work done by DFLers to return fiscal stability to Minnesota after years of Pawlenty deficits.
Minnesotans expect action to keep schools safe, stop the opioid crisis, keep seniors safe, and make sure retirement is secure for pensioners, but Speaker Daudt and Republicans need to stop playing political games. There is no excuse for holding these important bills back simply so they can be used as a bargaining chip at the end of session. Minnesotans deserve swift action on these issues, not delays.
In addition to that, we really must prioritize a few other things such as fairly compensating those who work with people with disabilities, and continuing our commitment to higher education by ensuring that the State Grant program remains stable for those wishing to attend college.
Equal Pay Day
April 10th marked Equal Pay Day at the Capitol. 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.
Republican Budget Impacts on Education
Legislative majorities recently announced their supplemental budget targets, and I was disappointed at the lack of strong support for E-12 Education and Higher Education. Instead of investing in the things Minnesotans value, like expanding quality early childhood education and making college more affordable, they have indicated plans to continue prioritizing tax cuts for corporations and big tobacco.
This is in stark contrast to Governor Dayton’s supplemental budget proposal, which prioritizes tax cuts for two million Minnesotans and important investments in areas such as education. I’ve heard from you and will continue to ensure the things our community values are a priority at the Capitol.
Minnesota Values Project
Finally, a step back: In the months leading up to this year’s legislative session, my House DFL colleagues and I engaged in a dialogue with Minnesotans about our shared values and future. We facilitated challenging and thoughtful conversations all over the state, for people from all walks of life. Based on those sessions, we’ve put forward the Minnesota Values Project — our goals, principles, and commitments to the people of Minnesota. Our shared values bring us together and can serve as a guide for how we move forward and how we make Minnesota work better for all of us. Learn more and add your voice at www.minnesotavaluesproject.com.
As always, it’s a pleasure to be your voice at the Capitol as we fight to make sure the things our community values are a priority.