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

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Legislative Update - October 7, 2019

Monday, October 7, 2019

Dear Neighbors, 

Getting to the State Capitol can be a challenge for many Minnesotans living outside the metro area. But no matter where they live, all Minnesotans deserve a government that is accessible, accountable, and responsive. To that end, the Minnesota House resumed the tradition of holding mini-sessions in Greater Minnesota with one last week that included stops in Austin, Rochester, and Winona. Over the years, the House has held 14 mini-sessions and this year marked the 30th anniversary since it was last held in Winona.?The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library has information available on each of the prior?mini-sessions

For me it was pure joy to return to my hometown of Austin and see how the community has changed. We visited spots including Riverland Community College and my alma maters, Sumner Elementary and Austin High School. I was thrilled to receive an honorary Student ID badge from the school district! 

Austin today is a vibrant, diverse city where more than 50 percent of the students in the public schools represent an ethnic minority. Further, more than one-third of students have a language other than English as their primary language and over 40 different languages are spoken in Austin homes. We met with educators who explained what’s working well in their classrooms and learned about some of the challenges they face in working to meet every student’s needs.  

We later traveled to Winona, which served as the hub for much of the mini-session’s activity. While there, one of the activities was a public hearing on the childcare crisis in greater Minnesota. Tim Penny, former U.S. Congressman from southeastern Minnesota and now CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, gave an overview of this crisis. We also heard from the Minnesota Farm Bureau and Families First Rochester. All across Minnesota, young families are facing significant challenges in finding quality childcare that they can afford. The average family with two young children spends about 31 percent of their income on childcare, averaging $27,684 per year. Providers also are struggling. With medium wages of just $11.27 per hour, approximately one third need public support to make ends meet for their families. The message was clear: the root cause of this crisis is that our early childhood education system is severely under-resourced.      

The 2019 House of Representatives mini-session has now concluded, but we are still following up on the valuable information and perspectives that we gained. I know many of my colleagues share in the hope that it won’t be another 22 years before the next mini-session. 

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