This is another busy week at the House as we continue passing supplemental budget bills on various subjects. We will then meet with the Senate in conference committees to work toward a compromise. House DFLers remain steadfast in our commitment to helping Minnesotans tackle rising costs we’re experiencing now and thrive over the long term.
On Friday, Governor Walz signed the Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Frontline Worker Pay bill into law. This bill will provide bonus pay to frontline workers who have sacrificed during the pandemic to keep Minnesotans safe, healthy, fed, and cared for. Eligible workers include those from the health care, child care, school, food service, public transit, long-term care, building service, emergency response, retail, and manufacturing sectors. You can find more information here. They are currently working on the online application system. When the system is ready to accept applications, eligible workers will have 45 days to apply for Frontline Worker Pay.
Replenishing the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund will ensure UI benefits are available to workers in the future and that businesses across the state are held harmless from the effects of the pandemic. With the passing of this bill, about 130,000 businesses will be protected from a tax increase.
Last week, we passed our bill to invest in safety and justice. The House Public Safety and Judiciary Bill invests $200 million in proven, transformative, and innovative solutions that work to help Minnesota tackle some of the largest challenges to keeping people and communities safe. The budget includes the Public Safety Innovation Act with $150 million worth of investments in expedited, data-driven strategies for communities to address increasing crime, hire additional personnel, and rebuild community trust. To improve police accountability, the legislation includes measures allowing cities to empower civilian review boards to conduct investigations, strengthening body camera required policies, including timelines for video to be released, and requiring the licensing POST Board to investigate alleged codes of conduct violations.
The bill invests in communities of color by establishing an Office for Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls, a Missing & Murdered Indigenous Relatives tip reward fund, and funding to create the Healing House, a space where Indigenous women involved in the justice system can receive trauma-informed support and get on the path to stability. Labor trafficking laws are also strengthened under the bill, as well as measures to improve the ability to hold people committing domestic violence accountable.
All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their communities, and in collaboration with local leaders like mayors, chiefs of police, and prosecutors, House DFLers are committed to ensuring this can be a reality.
Minnesota students deserve every opportunity to succeed. The House education bill we passed addresses the key funding shortfalls that have been identified by not only our school districts, but schools across the state.
Minnesota currently has one of the worst highest student-to-counselor ratios in the country. Especially after how hard the pandemic has been on our kids, we need to make sure that mental health resources are available and accessible. Our bill includes dedicated investment to hire additional mental health counselors. The legislation provides dedicated funds to support hiring around 1,100 student support personnel so that students have greater access to school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses.
Both State and Federal governments have mandated standards for special education and English-as-a-second-language learners without providing sufficient funding to fulfill these responsibilities. As a result, our schools have to “cross-subsidize” the education of these students from their general education funding are often forced to resort to local school property tax levies. The House education bill provides sufficient ongoing revenue to permanently erase the English as a second language cross-subsidy and half of the special education cross-subsidy.
The bill also includes a focus on literacy and overall academic success, including the BOLD literacy package and funding for Math Corps.
As Minnesotans, we’re proud of our clean air, water, and soil and the many plants and animals that call our state home. The environment bill will preserve these valuable resources. We are also funding innovative climate solutions and taking action to reduce lead contamination and exposure to dangerous chemicals. You can find more details from our non-partisan House news coverage here.
Please feel free to reach out to share your feedback, offer your ideas, or let me know if I can be of help. It’s an honor to represent you.