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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL)

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Legislative Weekly Recap- April 27-May 6, 2019

Monday, May 06, 2019

Hello Neighbors,

Well we did it, the House passed all of their budget bills off of the House floor by May 1 and now they are headed to conference committees with the Senate. On May 6, we will get what are called joint targets. This will be the budget set for that issue area that we will lead our negotiations. Our budget bills are a reflection of the values that Minnesotans have and the investments that they want to see.

Conference committees will be made up of 5 House members and 5 Senate members. These conference committees will meet from May 6 through May 12 when we have been directed to get a final product completed. That conference committee report will then go to the House and Senate floor for an up or down vote. A yes vote sends it to the Governor, a no vote would send it back to the conference committee. We are constitutionally required to finish our work by May 20th.

Education Conference Committee
As Chair of the House Education Policy Committee, I have been appointed to the Education Finance & Policy Conference Committee. We will be dealing with the budget and the policy for our public schools from early childhood through 12th grade. The House has the gavel first. House Chair Jim Davnie wanted to have the first conference committee on Sunday, but the Senate adjourned on Thursday without appointing any conferees. So now, we will be meeting for the first time on Monday at 2 p.m. as you are receiving this e-mail. The gavel alternates every day between the House and the Senate chairs. You can learn who is on what conference committee, see all of the documents provided to the committee and hear or see video or audio here.

Last Week’s Floor Sessions
On the House floor on Monday, we finished up the Transportation Omnibus Bill that we started discussing on Friday. We also heard the Higher Education and Public Safety Omnibus Bills. We started at 9 a.m. in the morning and finished up at 2 a.m. I serve on the House Transportation Committee and I am proud of the work we did on the Transportation Omnibus Bill. We need a safe, reliable, and forward-looking transportation system to move our goods and services, get to work and take care of our families. Our bill proposes significant, honest investments to improve and maintain our roads, bridges, and transit. These investments will improve safety, create good jobs, and improve the lives of Minnesotans. We do it without shifting money from the general fund and meet increased needs with new revenue. One of those revenue streams is a gas tax that is increased by a nickel every year over four years. You can read about the bill here.

We also heard a Higher Education Omnibus Bill that freezes tuition at our colleges and universities as well as increases funding for the State Grant program. Now more than ever we need to deliver on college affordability and the jobs and skills training needed to succeed in today’s economy. I was happy to vote yes on this bill, you can read more about it here.

The final bill heard on Monday was the Public Safety Bill. Through a community-centered lens, the House Public Safety Budget re-visions Minnesota’s criminal justice system with reforms that provide a pathway beyond incarceration while ensuring justice for crime victims and holding criminals accountable. We also address who have been victims of sexual assault and gender-based violence by helping them seek justice. And, Minnesotans have been loud and clear that they want their legislators to address the epidemic of senseless gun violence in our communities, and we lead the way to pass meaningful gun violence prevention legislation. I am happy to support the work that Chair Carlos Mariani and his committee has done and I voted yes. You can read more about the bill here.
Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan speak at a rally hosted by Mom’s Demand Action and Protect Minnesota.
On Tuesday, we heard the Environment & Natural Resources as well as the State Government Omnibus Bills on the House floor. We cherish our parks, public lands, and clean air and water. We should protect our environment and abundant wildlife rather than rolling back environmental protections and disregarding science for short-term gains. Our House Environmental & Natural Resources Omnibus makes needed investments to protect our environment for future generations. Because of those investments I voted yes. You can read more about the bill here.

Minnesotans also expect and deserve efficient and effective state government. That is why the State Government budget bill we secure our elections, funds state agencies and supports and respects our veterans. We make sure that State Agencies have the tools and funds to do their jobs, including an investment in cyber security. I was particularly proud to vote for the comprehensive elections bill that is included within the bill. You can read briefly about the bill here.

Wednesday morning, I started out at a press conference with Department of Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker. It was to compare the Governor’s education proposal with the Senate’s proposal. The Governor Walz is proposing an increase of $743 million while the GOP led Senate is proposing only a $206 million increase over base. Our House proposal is $900 million of increased funding. We heard from superintendents across the state about the drastic cuts they would have to make under the Senate’s dismal proposal. You can read about the differing proposals here.

On the House floor on Wednesday, we heard the Agricultural Policy bill that was non-controversial and makes investments in our agricultural community. You can read about the bill here. We also heard the Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund Bill which spends money from the Minnesota lottery that is dedicated to the environment. The bill followed the recommendations of the Legislative Citizens Commission on Natural Resources (LCCMR). I voted yes and it passed with near unanimous support. You can read about the bill here.

On Thursday, we took up the House Legacy Omnibus Bill on the floor. This bills spends the funds from the constitutional amendment, passed in 2008, that dedicated money to the outdoors and arts across Minnesota. In the past decade, communities across the state have benefited from Legacy funds that preserve our abundant natural resources and rich heritage for future generations of Minnesotans to come. You can read more about the bill here. We also heard an Elections policy bill that was technical in nature and had only non-controversial provisions. That bill passed unanimously and only took 10 minutes to discuss on the floor.

Last Saturday, I had the chance to hear from constituents during a forum hosted by Isaiah, a coalition of faith communities. We heard folks tell their moving stories around voter restoration, protecting and expanding healthcare, 100% renewable energy, driver’s licenses for all and concerns around Islamophobia. Senator Ron Latz and I answered questions in each of the areas and I truly appreciated the conversation.
As we near the end of session, it is always good to hear what your thoughts are as we put the two year State budget together. You can reach me at rep.cheryl.youakim@house.mn or 651-296-9889. With the long floor sessions and conference committee, it may take me a little while to get back to you so please be patient.

Have a great week!