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

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Legislative Update - April 9, 2019

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

Here’s a reminder about the Town Hall Meeting Sen. Steve Cwodzinski, Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn and I are hosting next Wednesday. The Town Hall will take place at Eden Prairie High School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event is free, nonpartisan, and everyone in the community is invited. We deeply value your input and engagement, and hope to see you there.

WHAT: Legislative Town Hall Meeting
WHO: Rep. Laurie Pryor, Sen. Steve Cwodzinski, Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn
WHERE: Eden Prairie High School (East Commons), 17185 Valley View Rd, Eden Prairie
WHEN: Wednesday, April 17 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

This morning the House approved the compromise version of HF 50, the bill requiring drivers to use cellphones in hands-free mode while behind the wheel. I am grateful for all the advocates who kept working to get this law passed and I was proud to be a yes vote. This bill will save lives.

Here is a picture of the House chamber as we watched the green votes add up. The final vote was 107 to 19.

Today was also the Minnesota Street Rod Association’s annual Day on the Hill giving us an opportunity to get outside and check out some classic cars. These hot rods are, of course, cell phone free.
Much of my work lately has been focused on the education components of our Minnesota Values Budget. I’m proud of the solid investments we’re advancing for Minnesota students at all stages of learning, and I’ll highlight some of these below.

E-12 Education

We’ve heard loud and clear from Minnesotans how much they value having world-class schools. Unfortunately, investments haven’t kept up with what’s needed to ensure all Minnesota students can succeed.
I’m proud that our Minnesota Values Budget keeps pace with the needs in our classrooms with a three percent increase in the first year of the budget and two percent in the second year. Robust, honest funding like this will position districts to strengthen opportunities for all students. Additionally, it includes funding which allows districts to hire more critical personnel like social workers, psychologists, counselors, and nurses to help keep students safe and healthy while supporting their development. Significantly, our education budget addresses the federal government’s failure to deliver on their promise to fund special education, which has resulted in sizable, growing budget gaps for many districts.
Early childhood education, full-service community schools, teacher recruitment strategies (including teachers of color), improved concurrent enrollment (allowing high schoolers to gain college credit), and other initiatives are also included in our budget. I’m committed to delivering a stronger future for all Minnesota students, and our education budget does that.

Higher Education

Serving as the Vice Chair of the House Higher Education Division has been extremely rewarding.  We are working to ensure that once Minnesotans graduate from high school, they can take the next step in their educational journey by enrolling in college or by seeking specialized career training. My House DFL colleagues and I have prioritized higher education in our budget funding a tuition freeze for both the Minnesota State and University of Minnesota systems. Additionally, with a boost in the State Grant Program, more Minnesota students can avoid crushing student debt no matter where they may be enrolled. Higher Education is a significant economic driver for Minnesota, and the ability to earn a degree or a certificate without unsustainable debt will help keep talented people here.
I’m also pleased a couple of provisions I introduced were included in the budget. One of these ensures mental health services and legal advocacy support are available to survivors of sexual assault. When someone has experienced trauma, their ability to learn, achieve, and succeed are put at risk, and our budget addresses this. Access to food is also an alarming problem facing too many of our college students, and the budget includes the “Hunger Free Campus Act” to help end food insecurity among students.

Please continue to reach out with any input, ideas, or feedback. I value hearing from you, so please don’t hesitate to call or email me any time. It’s an honor to represent you at the State Capitol.
Laurie Pryor
State Representative