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

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Legislative Update - April 20, 2018

Friday, April 20, 2018

Dear Neighbor,

Today marks the third and final committee deadline, with budget bills moving out of their respective finance committees and on to the next phase before they make their way to the House Floor. As these bills come forward, I’ll be working to ensure they reflect our community’s values, with better investments in education, ensuring our environmental protections remain intact, and taxes that are fair for everyone.
Air Medal Veterans License Plate
I introduced a bill this week to create a new license plate honoring some of our distinguished service members. The bill, HF 4429, would add recipients of the Air Medal to those able to apply for a special license plate. The suggestion for this recognition came from my constituent, Jim O'Neill.
The Air Medal is awarded for acts of heroism or meritorious achievements while participating in aerial flight in actual combat in support of operations. Members of all branches of the armed forces are eligible. I’m pleased that Sen. Steve Cwodzinski is carrying the companion legislation in the Senate, and my colleague Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn of Roseville has co-authored the bill in the House.

Investing in Education
This week, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of teachers from the Eden Prairie School District. As I talk to members of the community, it’s clear that people really appreciate our quality schools and the work of our teachers. To continue this quality, we need to maintain our commitment to all students, from the youngest learners to those attending college or enrolled in a job training program.

This year’s education budget bill from the House majority left out some important investments, like special education funding. Support at the state and federal level hasn’t kept up to ensure all students have an equal opportunity for quality education, putting school districts on the hook for more. The bill also fails to extend investments for pre-k education into the future. This means that while some four-year-olds are able to access these opportunities now, unless we take action, their younger siblings may not have this chance in a couple of years.
Higher education and job training was also a low priority in the budget put forward by the House majority. Instead of investments to all campuses to lower tuition and maintain quality programs, it earmarks $5 million for a single program at a single university campus. Student loan debt has now eclipsed credit card debt in this country. While I’m pleased efforts to improve debt counseling have moved forward, we need to do more to make college more affordable for everyone.
Our budget surplus isn’t enormous, but I think we’re in a position to do better for all of our students, and I’ll be working to ensure we do.
This week I had the opportunity to meet with members of RESOLVE: the National Infertility Association. They were at the Capitol to advocate for a bill introduced last year, the Minnesota Gestational Carrier Act, which would allow for gestational surrogacy arrangements to be permitted and regulated in Minnesota. The legislation includes clear standards and protections for all surrogacy participants. This bill followed work of the Legislative Commission on Surrogacy and reflects the consensus points of that panel’s work.

It was heartwarming to see the photo of one of the visitor’s adorable grandchildren born through surrogacy. Many Minnesotans face difficulties starting a family, and this legislation would benefit them greatly.
There are just about four weeks left in the legislative session. I hope you’ll keep in touch with your viewpoints, ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance. It’s an honor to represent you at the Capitol.


Laurie Pryor
State Representative