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

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Legislative Update - February 8, 2019

Friday, February 08, 2019

Neighbors,
 
As much as I love Minnesota’s four beautiful seasons, I really do love the snow – and a little bit of the cold! It’s hard on teachers, students, and families when school is canceled. Let’s hope we are done and our kids get back to their learning. For anyone struggling with the cold, there are resources available. Here are some safety tips and pointers to prevent frozen pipes from the New Brighton Public Works department.
 
Education
This week I introduced a bill to increase the number of Teachers of Color and Indigenous teachers (TOCAIT). 34 percent of Minnesota’s students are children of color and American Indian, but only 4 percent of teachers in classrooms are TOCAIT. If this legislation is passed, it will expand existing pathways to teaching, strengthen efforts to retain effective teachers, and provide incentives to attract more students of color into the teaching profession with scholarships and student teaching grants to complete their preparation programs. Students benefit from having diverse role models and teachers – it’s an important part of a productive learning environment.
 
Senator Patricia Torres Ray will carry this bill in the Senate, and on Monday at 9am we are hosting a press conference to talk about what this bill will mean for our communities, and to answer questions.
 
I also spoke on behalf of a bill to expand English Language Learners programs this week. These programs are an important part of making sure all students get access to a great education, regardless of language barriers. This bill would significantly increase ELL funding for school districts across Minnesota. Data shows that students who have not fully mastered English have only a 40 percent chance of receiving a high school diploma. You can read more about the bill hereand watch me speak in committee here.  
 
100 Percent Clean Energy
This week we introduced legislation to move Minnesota toward using 100 percent renewable energy, transitioning away from power sources that rely on fossil fuels. Minnesota has an opportunity to be a national leader in clean energy, to create new jobs, and improve public health. The bill is estimated to create 50,000 new clean energy jobs. 
 
Equal Rights Amendment
My Equal Rights Amendment passed through the Government Finance Committee this week, and is one step closer to getting passed!

Tax Season
I know tax season can be a stressful time of year, especially with several federal tax changes that recently went into effect. The good news is that the Minnesota Department of Revenue has updated its forms to reflect current Minnesota law regardless of the changes, so you should feel comfortable filing your state taxes at any point during this filing season. Although no changes will be made for the state taxes this year, going forward I hope to work with my colleagues to craft laws that will make taxes fair for hard-working Minnesotans. There are free tax preparation resources available to many people here, and nearly 65 percent of Minnesotans are eligible for free filing, you can read more about filing for free here
 
Podcast
The Minnesota House DFL released a podcast this week – click here to be one of the first to listen!
 
Please reach out if I can assist you in anything, or if you ever have questions about the work we are doing at the Capitol. You can reach me by email at rep.mary.kuneshpodein@house.mn and phone at 651-296-4331.
 
Sincerely,
 
MaryKP