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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL)

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Legislative Update - November 22, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dear Neighbors,

Thanksgiving is a time we share a meal and celebrate with our friends and family. This is a great time to reflect upon the year that has nearly passed, but also to look ahead and consider the values that are important to our community and what makes Minnesota such a special place to live. For my part, I’m grateful for the engaged constituents I have the honor to represent. Here are more topics that were discussed at our recent Town Hall Meeting.

Pre K-12 Education

This is an issue that remains on the minds of many and with good reason. Good schools form the foundation for shared success in our community. We must strive to set kids on the right path toward achievement. One area we still have to make more progress in is pre-K education, which has a tremendous impact on student success down the road. Another area that needs improvement is special education. Every single child in Minnesota deserves an education; this is a basic civil right. Clearly, the federal government hasn’t provided its share of the responsibility toward this, but we must keep our commitment to these students.

We were also joined by three incoming members of the Hopkins School Board: Jen Westmoreland-Bouchard, Chris LaTondresse, and Fartun Ahmed. Fartun is the first Somali-American woman elected to a school board in the country.

Higher Education

We also discussed higher education. We have terrific colleges and universities in our state, but unfortunately, we aren’t keeping pace with the funding required to ensure everyone can access a higher education. In order to compete in a global economy, now more than ever, our young people need the knowledge base and skills that come with a degree or specialized job training certificate. College students and their families simply cannot sustain these massive levels of student loan debt.

Some audience members brought up concerns about the process for electing members to the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents. As our state’s land grant institution, it’s important that the board reflect the whole state and the diverse backgrounds and experiences Minnesotans have. This isn’t the case right now, and I hope we can talk about ideas to achieve this in the Higher Education Committee.

Dispute over legislative funding

Folks were understandably curious about the standoff between Republican leaders and Governor Mark Dayton resulting from a line-item veto of funding for the Legislature. Since that time, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the veto was constitutional, and legislative leadership was able to secure funding through other means. I’m sure this topic will be revisited when the session starts in February; stay tuned.

I’ll touch on more of these topics in my next update. As we look ahead to Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope you will enjoy this holiday with family and friends. If you plan to do any post-Thanksgiving shopping, please keep in mind the impact of doing so at local, small businesses. When you patronize local shops, buy locally-made products, or eat at locally-owned restaurants, this money stays in our local economy longer than when spending money elsewhere.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving,

Laurie Pryor

State Representative