We’re finalizing budget work in our committees ahead of our legislative deadline this Friday. The bulk of the work this week is focused on the Taxes, Capital Investment, and Transportation committees, so keep an eye out for updates on those major areas of legislation. Once each body’s individual finance bills for Minnesota’s budget are completed in the House and Senate, we’ll then begin the process of negotiating and finding common ground in the final weeks of session. Here’s a quick update on our budget and other work in St. Paul.
Hands-Free Cellphone Bill
After coming to an agreement with our colleagues in the Senate, the Minnesota House approved final legislation requiring drivers to only use their phone in a hands-free mode when behind the wheel. The fight against distracted driving is inspired by the brave Minnesotans who have told heartbreaking personal stories in an effort to prevent their tragedies from ever happening to anyone else.
If approved by the Senate and signed by Governor Walz, Minnesota would become the 17th state, plus the District of Colombia, to implement such a law. Enforcement will be similar to how texting while driving is treated,
You can read more about the bill here.
Housing Finance Bill
One of the committees I serve on finalized their budget proposal last week. The Housing Finance and Policy division completed our budget bill, incorporating legislation from multiple members that we’ve been working on since January. These all-encompassing bills, often called omnibus bills, will now have to pass off the House floor before entering into negotiations with the Minnesota Senate. Once a compromise on this and other budget bills are found, we’ll hold a final vote in each legislative body before sending the bills to Governor Walz for his signature.
To get an idea of what all goes into crafting a budget bill, you can see the spreadsheet we worked off of in the Housing committee here.
The State of the State Address
Highlighting the stories of exceptional Minnesotans and the need to compromise, Governor Walz delivered his first State of the State Address last week. Minnesota currently has the only legislature not controlled by a single political party in the country, so Governor Walz’s call to work together was especially potent during a time when the work in St. Paul can get particularly contentious. As we head into negotiations with the Senate in the final weeks of the legislative session, it’s worth remembering that we’re all here to build a stronger Minnesota.
You can watch the Governor’s State of the State Address below.
I wanted to thank ISAIAH Minnesota for holding their community meeting in Rochester the other week. ISAIAH is an interfaith political organization in Minnesota, and I was grateful for the opportunity they gave our community to discuss legislation. From paid family leave, renewable energy, and affordable housing, you can read more about the event and the topics we discussed here.
The House Higher Education Committee announced a new budget that puts students first by making college more affordable, reducing debt, and improving health and safety on campus. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are 775,000 Minnesotans with student debt totaling $27.1 billion.
A fact sheet with more information about the budget is available for download here.
The budget freezes tuition for Minnesota students at all of the state’s two- and four-year public colleges and universities, and increases financial support for working families by investing an additional $35.4 million in the state grant program. As a result, full-time students who benefit from the state grant program will receive on average more than $400 per year more in financial assistance, and 1,900 more Minnesotans will become eligible for the first time.
How to Contact Me
I believe our work at the State Capitol is at its best when it’s inclusive and collaborative, and I want to hear from you. You can reach me at (651) 296-9249, firstname.lastname@example.org, and my office is Room 593 in the State Office Building in St. Paul.