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

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Legislative Update - April 25, 2019

Thursday, April 25, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
I want to thank everyone who attended the Town Hall Meeting last week with Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn, Sen. Cwodzinski, and me. We had a good discussion about a variety of issues important to the community. It’s extremely gratifying to represent a community so deeply engaged with the political process.

This week, activity resumed at the State Capitol as we begin assembling the Minnesota Values Budget, based in what we’ve heard from Minnesotans. So far this week, we’ve worked through the E-12 Education (with historic investments in our public schools) and Jobs/Energy components of our budget, with Health and Human Services next. Minnesotans deserve an effective state government that delivers results, and I remain committed to this.

A Clean Energy Future

One of the issues community members are passionate about is the need to address the impact of climate change. There’s a scientific consensus that our climate is changing and it’s largely due to human activities. One of the most significant steps we can take is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Minnesota in particular has made great strides using more renewable sources, meeting our goal to get 25 percent of our energy from wind, solar, and other clean sources a full seven years early. The urgency of this issue requires us to take more ambitious action though.
The DFL Jobs and Energy budget, which the House approved yesterday, calls for having 100 percent of our energy generated from utilities to come from carbon-free sources by 2050. Other components of our energy legislation include funding for the Solar on Schools program, grants for electric buses, and new opportunities for utility consumers to conserve energy and save money by switching to cleaner electricity sources. With the celebration of Earth Day this week, our action on the House Floor to protect the planet carried extra meaning.
Throughout the session, I’ve been impressed with the passionate, informed, and motivated young people urging action on this issue. These Minnesotans know how high the stakes are; they’re the ones who will be left with whatever consequences result from a failure to take address our changing climate. I was proud to join my colleagues in taking this important step forward to protect our state and our planet.

Economic Security for Minnesotans

The Jobs and Economic Development portion of the budget included several important measures to strengthen economic security for Minnesotans. While our economy continues to do well in several measures, including low unemployment, too many Minnesotans are just one missed paycheck away from hardship. Many employees, especially those in low-wage positions, don’t have access to any sick time or have the ability to care of a loved one. Our Jobs budget seeks to change that with a pair of solutions.
The new Paid Family and Medical Leave policy allows for up to 12 weeks of medical leave with partial wage replacement, allowing parents to spend time with a newborn or family members to care for an ill loved one. The program would be modeled after the state’s unemployment insurance program with premiums paid by both employees and employers.
The new Earned Sick and Safe Time Policy would allow Minnesota workers, after being on the job 90 days, to earn a minimum of one hour of paid, earned sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. This could be used for an employee to address an illness, or get help following a traumatic event like domestic violence or sexual assault. Research has demonstrated public health is improved by this type of policy. When they’re sick, workers, especially in public-facing settings like food service, shouldn’t be forced to carry contagious illnesses with them.
Other benefits for Minnesotans in our Jobs budget include protections against wage theft, net neutrality requirements, investments in vocational rehabilitation services, and protections against predatory payday lenders.
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