The legislative session kicks off just one week from today. Last week, a series of bills were “pre-filed” for introduction, a list of which you can see here. There are many issues requiring the Legislature’s attention in this short session, as we work to improve the lives of Minnesotans in both big and small ways. These include addressing potential consequences of the federal tax bill, passing a public infrastructure bill, measures to expand affordable health care, our new vehicle licensing system, and others. Feel free to let me know what issues are important to you and your family, and what steps you’d like to see taken about them.
I also wanted to remind community members about this Thursday’s workshop hosted by Girls United MN titled “Not for Sale: Standing Up to Sex Trafficking.” In my last update, I highlighted a bill drafted by Hopkins High Junior Jessica Melnik and her Girls United colleagues who have done exceptional work to both bring attention to this issue and create solutions. I’m honored to co-author this legislation.
The event will feature a panel of advocates, members of law enforcement, and other experts to share strategies about how they are working to stop sex trafficking and steps we can take if we witness it occurring. I’m honored to also have been invited to share remarks. I hope to see you at the workshop on Thursday, held at the Eisenhower Community Center Theater in Hopkins starting at 6:30 p.m.
Sexual exploitation is a growing problem in our region, and we’ve made some progress in recent years addressing it. Much of this is as a result of moving toward a “Safe Harbor” model, where trafficked youth are treated truly as victims, rather than criminals. However, we have a lot more to do to keep young people safe by preventing them from falling into exploitation, decreasing demand for commercial sex, and providing more care for victims. During an operation leading up to the Super Bowl, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested 36 people for felony solicitation of a minor and seven for sex trafficking/promotion of prostitution. Thankfully, 14 women were rescued from trafficking situations. While this operation occurred leading up to an event on a worldwide stage, it’s important to realize this activity takes place in our communities every day, and we must work together to end it.
As we look ahead to the session, I hope to hear your questions, ideas and feedback. I’m honored to represent you, and hope you’ll stay in touch.