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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Fue Lee (DFL)

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Special Session Legislative Update - May 26, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

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Invest in Success Rally for Public Education

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Members from labor, faith, and immigrant rights groups rallying against anti-immigrant and anti-labor bills.

Legislative Updates

This past Monday at midnight was the last day of the regular legislative session, but the legislature did not get its work done on time. The Republican majorities walked away from negotiations and wasted weeks passing bills they knew Governor would veto.

On Tuesday, in the dark of the night, the legislative leaders and Governor Dayton agreed to broad terms for a special session, which started at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday that was supposed to go until 7:00 a.m. Wednesday. The Republicans broke this agreement when they failed to negotiate the budget bills and get them printed for the legislative bodies to debate before the special session deadline.

The special session wrapped up early this morning at 2:40 a.m. Below are brief summaries of the bills and why I opposed them.

Special Session Tax Bill

The House repassed the tax bill as amended by the Senate. Included in the tax bill were tobacco tax cuts, including a tax cut for premium cigars, and an expansion of the Estate Tax exemption. The Estate Tax exemption will give back $109.3 million to 1,100 of the wealthiest Minnesotans.

Special Session Labor Standards (Preemption, Pensions, Contract Ratification and Wage Theft)

The House also passed the Labor Standards bill, which included preemption, pensions, state employee contracts for the Engineering Council, paid parental leave for state employees, and wage theft restrictions. Governor Dayton has indicated that he will veto this bill because of preemption. The following is a statement from Governor Dayton:

“It is unconscionable that Republican legislators would pit the earned financial security of hardworking state employees and retirees against the rights of local officials to make the decisions for which they were elected by their citizens. Nevertheless, I have said that I will veto the preemption bill, and I will honor that commitment.”

Special Session Education Bill

Several of the provisions passed in the Education Bill include a modified version of the vetoed teacher licensure bill, language keeping the Perpich Center for Arts Education open with some reforms to the agency, and changes to the way teachers are laid off.

Instead of fully funding our schools, the education bill potentially allows for untrained teachers to enter our classrooms and allows districts to lay off teachers with seniority—often teachers making the most money. This is troubling to many districts like Minneapolis Public Schools facing budget deficits and shortage of teachers.

Special Session State Government Finance Bill

The State Government Finance bill passed by the legislature underfunds state government, breaks our commitment to public employees, and eliminates staffing for the Office of the Economic Status of Women to provide tax cuts for the rich.

The Republicans refused to fund any of the $27 million requested by Minnesota IT Services (MN.IT) for cyber security efforts. The bill also reduced the state’s contribution by $20 million to PERA—our state retirement plan—for the Minneapolis Employees Retirement Association (MERF). This reduction is shifted onto the former employers of the MERF retirees, which includes the City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Public Schools, Hennepin County, and five other metro area entities.

Special Session Transportation Bill

The transportation bill is a miss opportunity for us to fully fund public transportation, roads, and bridges. It fails to provide $600 million per year in new funds needed for roads and bridges and has no new long-term, constitutionally dedicated funds. The bill fully funds Metro Transit in 2018-2019, but will leave a $110 million hole in 2020-2021—resulting in a 30 percent cut to services. The failure to find constitutionally dedicated funds for public transportation, roads, and bridges will disproportionately impact our district and the modes of transportation used.

Special Session Health and Human Services Bill

The health and human services bill makes significant cuts to the healthcare budget. It takes $350 million each year from the Health Care Access Fund, which puts MinnesotaCare and other state health programs at risk. Additionally, there is no new funding for drinking water protection and school-linked mental health. The bill will lead to increased property taxes because it shifts the cost of the MNChoices program—assessment and support planning for all persons seeking access to long-term services and supports—from the state to counties. Overall, the Republicans’ healthcare bill is based on fake savings and irresponsible budget shifts.

Area News and Upcoming Events

Public Meetings for Upper Harbor Terminal Planning Process

In anticipation of the execution of the three-party exclusive rights agreement (see below), the City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) and master development team (United Properties, THOR Development and First Avenue Productions) have announced a series of public meetings at which community members will be able to provide input to inform the plan for the Upper Harbor Terminal (UHT) site.

In order to maximize input opportunities, there will be two parallel meetings per month, held on two different days of the week at different locations and with different formats. The two meetings will cover the same basic topic and seek similar input each month. One meeting will be combined with the monthly meeting of the Above the Falls Community Advisory Committee (AFCAC). These will be held in the evening (starting at 7:00 pm) on the last Tuesday of the month at the MPRB headquarters and will be a meeting format. The second meeting will be held on the last Thursday of the month (except for the first meeting) somewhat earlier in the evening (starting at 5:00 pm) at either Cityview School or Folwell Park. These second meetings generally will be an open house format in which attendees can attend any time between 5:00 and 7:30 pm. All of the events will be family-friendly, and refreshments will be offered.

The meeting pattern is as follows:

AFCAC Meetings

7:00 pm; typically last Tuesday of the month; snacks served

All at MPRB headquarters, 2117 W. River Road N.

Tuesday, May 30

Tuesday, June 27

Tuesday, July 25

Tuesday, August 29

Tuesday, September 26

Open House Meetings

5:00 – 7:30 pm; typically Thursdays; refreshments served

Thursday, June 8 (Cityview School, 3350 N. 4th St.)

Thursday, June 29 (Cityview School, 3350 N. 4th St.)

Thursday, July 27 (Folwell Park, 1615 N. Dowling St.)

Thursday, August 31 (Folwell Park, 1615 N. Dowling St.)

Thursday, September 28 (Folwell Park, 1615 N. Dowling St.)

If you haven’t already done so, please sign up for GovDelivery email updates on the UHT web site or watch for social media notices on Facebook, Twitter and NextDoor, as meetings may need to be adjusted. Information on the webpage and meeting notices also will provide more details about specific meetings and topics.

The general goals of the first pair of meetings (May 30 and June 8) will be to develop an understanding of the personal connections of the community to the site; acquire the language to talk about destinations with the community; and document the experiences that shape community members’ perceptions of the project.

In addition to these regular meetings and workshops, watch for special events, pop-up engagement at events and community locations, online opportunities and more.

Exclusive Rights Agreement Update

At its May 17 meeting, the MPRB Administration and Finance Committee approved the execution of the three-party exclusive rights agreement (ER Agreement) between the City, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and selected master development team. This item is expected to be considered by the full Park Board at its meeting on June 7 (see the MPRB board meeting website for an agenda and staff report, expected to be posted about June 2).

Following approval by the Mayor, the agreement will be executed and then will guide the upcoming planning process in which the parties will collaborate, with community input, to formulate a plan for riverfront parkland and private development on the City-owned 48-acre Upper Harbor Terminal (UHT) site.

For reasonable accommodations or alternative formats please contact Cindy Anderson, canderson@minneapolisparks.org, 612-230-6472. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to call Minnesota Relay System 711. Para asistencia 612-673-2700 - Rau kev pab 612-673-2800 - Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500

I encourage you to contact me with any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas on any legislative topic. Also, I am available during select hours on Monday and Friday mornings most weeks for in-district meetings, if Northside residents aren’t able to make it to the Capitol. If you would like to send me a message or set up an in-district meeting, you can reach me by phone at 651-296-4262 or by email at rep.fue.lee@house.mn. I look forward to hearing from you!