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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL)

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Legislative Update - February 1, 2019

Friday, February 01, 2019

My heart goes out to our community and to all Minnesotans who struggled with frozen pipes, dead car batteries and frostbitten fingers this week. At the Minnesota Legislature we didn’t miss a beat – we stayed open, working hard on our legislation and meeting with members of the community. Many of us even brought our kids! This week was a reminder of the importance of earned sick and safe time, so families are able to take time to care for their little ones when unexpected events (like a polar vortex, for example) get in the way of our schedules. 

Rep. Kunesh-Podein with her niece, Mckenna, and Rep. Edelson’s kids, who took shelter from the polar vortex at the Capitol

Gender Violence Protection Week
It is Gender Violence Protection Week at the Capitol and a number of my bills had timely introductions in committees.
In a packed hearing room on Tuesday we heard powerful testimony from family members of indigenous women who are missing or murdered. The stories were heartbreaking, but I was happy to see extensive coverage of and attention to this issue from local news outlets. If passed, my bill would create a state task force aimed at reducing and ending violence against Native women. You can see some of the coverage here:  

I presented my “Buttocks Bill” to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform committee this week as well. I realized that someone who is groped on their buttocks has no legal protection when a constituent of mine came to me. She was told there was nothing she could do after an assault in which she was publicly groped on the buttocks by a stranger while she was holding her baby. The trauma of sexual harassment transcends gender, class and political ideology. Members of both parties supported this bill in committee and I’m optimistic that it will be signed into law.
The Equal Rights Amendment was heard last week in the Government Operations committee and next Thursday it will be heard in the State Government Finance committee before going to Ways and Means.
Opioid Awareness Day on the Hill 
The opioid crisis continues to cause tragedy and loss throughout our state. Last year I presented legislation to provide funding for drug abuse prevention and education in schools. The Bill, “Jake’s Sake,” is part of a larger initiative by legislators this year to provide funding for overdose prevention, education, training and life-saving treatment. H.F. 400 received its first public hearing on Wednesday in the Health and Human Services Policy Committee on Opioid Awareness Day on the Hill.
The legislature will soon debate and vote on the University of Minnesota board of regents. I have been meeting with regent candidates and welcome your input! You can read about the candidates and the process for choosing the Board of Regents here. Please reach out if you have questions or comments about this process – the Regents play an important role in shaping the priorities and goals of the University.  
I hope you all have a great weekend, and please reach out to me with any comments or questions by phone at 651-296-4331 and email at, or drop by our office in room 445 of the State Office Building.