Tuesday, I presented a bill in front of a House Committee for the first time. The Higher Education and Career Readiness Finance and Policy Committee considered my proposal to expand student loan refinancing opportunities in Minnesota.
In 2016, Minnesota launched the SELF Refi program to afford Minnesotans the opportunity to refinance their loans and lower their monthly payments. Currently, the SELF Refi program has several restrictions, including a minimum credit score and debt to income requirements which have limited the number of Minnesotans able to take advantage of the program. My bill would adjust some of these restrictions, opening the door to more individuals to receive relief from student debt burdens.
Because of rapidly rising tuition over the last decade and a half, Minnesotans carry the fifth highest average student debt loads in the nation. With so many people buried under this debt, it can have rippling effects through the rest of the economy and by expanding SELF Refi and lowering loan payments, we can give Minnesotans more economic security for themselves and their families. The bill was “laid over” for possible inclusion in a broader Omnibus Higher Education Bill later this session.
Real ID: UPDATE
On Monday, the Minnesota Senate rejected the Real ID bill. A couple of weeks ago, the House did pass a Real ID bill that was similar to the one rejected by the Senate. The federal deadline to have the agreement in place is January 2018. Without an agreement, anyone boarding an airplane or visiting a military facility will have to use a passport or enhanced driver’s license. I am closely monitoring the issue and will continue to advocate for a clean, bipartisan Real ID bill that allows Minnesotans to continue traveling with ease into 2018.
Capitol Student Essay Contest
As part of the Minnesota State Capitol Grand Opening this summer, students are encouraged to submit essays celebrating the historic building, describing in their own words what their State Capitol means to them.
Minnesota students in grades K-12 are encouraged to submit essays explaining how the State Capitol has shaped our collective past and will impact future generations. Contest winners in three categories (elementary school, middle school, and high school) will be invited to share their essays as part of the State Capitol Grand Opening festivities in August 11-13. Winners in each category will also receive $1,000 toward a Minnesota College Savings Plan.
You can find more information on the contest from the Governor’s website. Please forward this to anyone who may be interested in this contest, especially educators who can share this opportunity with their students.
Work continues at a fast pace here at the Capitol, with the first committee bill deadline tomorrow. Please keep contacting me with your thoughts on the important issues we are discussing; your input is valued.