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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Kristin Bahner (DFL)

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Legislative Update: April 13

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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Rep. Bahner

Dear Neighbors,

Words cannot express the depth of sorrow, heal the pain, or begin to take away the sting of losing someone you love. No words can stop the fear and relief of a mother realizing the story in the news was not about her child. 

My heart is heavy with grief. As a legislator, I am committed to finding a way to right this wrong by being open, persistent, and at times - stubborn in search of paths that are more just, more real - that seek to cease the pain of a heart in rebellion, steeped with grief, that cannot be quelled.

For the family of Daunte Wright, I ask we all hold them in our care and respect their wishes for peace. For our community, I ask for the quiet dignity to allow those suffering, the space and care they so rightly need.

COVID-19 Vaccination Update

We are making great progress toward the finish line of this pandemic with speedy vaccine distribution. Minnesota has been consistently at the top of the list for vaccinations administered. With approximately 5.6 Million Minnesota residents, we have administered over 3 million vaccines and the state continues to open more community clinics to make it accessible for those wishing to get vaccinated. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to sign up for Minnesota’s COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, to help stay informed on nearby vaccine opportunities in the North Metro.

I have seen many social media posts of people embracing the holidays and their elderly parents or grandparents recently. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to hug my 87 year-old grandmother after nearly a year of missing her. It was an emotional moment for us both. I am moved by so many similar stories as more people are vaccinated and our ability to connect with one on one is restored. There is hope in the air once again as new life springs forward from the ground and spring is ushered in.

I urge you all to continue reaching out to friends and neighbors impacted by the pandemic to help them as we renew our efforts to restore stronger opportunities for all in our community; here at the legislature, we are committed to do everything in our power for a return to normal as we approach the end of the session.

Legislative Action to Protect Survivors

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual Assault, MN Supreme Court Ruling

Sexual assault survivors have historically been silenced and denied justice or even the opportunity to pursue it. Recenly, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that people voluntarily consuming alcohol are not protected under the definition of “mentally incapacitated” and will be denied justice under the law. Intoxicated survivors are incapable of giving consent and the Court’s ruling is further enabling predatory behavior that endangers not just women, but any person, of any age. Furthermore, this ruling sends a traumatizing message to survivors of sexual assault and threatens the safety of Minnesotans. We ought to do better. 

In response, I am co-authoring legislation that would tackle this loophole and correct the state’s criminal sexual conduct (CSC) statutes. The time to act is now, and many Minnesotans are ready for a response to the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling from their legislators to get this loophole closed once and for all, to provide justice for survivors and greater safety for our communities.

Putting Minnesotans First: House DFL Budget Bills

On Monday, my House colleagues and I revealed our budget bills which will be a guide for many of our conversations during the rest of the session as we work to create a budget to address disparities, recover economically, and look out for Minnesotans that need a little extra care. Our commitment to Minnesota children, families, and main street businesses remain a priority and through this budget we strive to ensure everyone can successfully run through the approaching finish line after the long year we have all had. As many of you know, I am laser focused on bills to improve access to affordable healthcare and prescription drugs, which is now more critical than ever, bills that target COVID relief for small business and include tax conformity for PPP loans, as well as aid to workers and families with young students.  For me, the bottom line is always about how we put people first, and this year has only underscored the many needs that exist.

These bills reflect hours of hearings, input from experts and the public and robust bipartisan dialogue for a better future in Minnesota. It is a pleasure to hear the diverse opinions of the community and legislators who may differ on some points.  I appreciate the healthy debate of the issues. Despite these differences, one thing that is abundantly clear is that regardless of our viewpoints, we are united in our mission to do our best for Minnesotans and our local communities. I am grateful to colleagues of all backgrounds for their dedication to our neighbors across the state. More information on the budget details can be found here, and you can watch our press conference here.

Budget

Maple Grove Community Center 

The Maple Grove Community Center serves as the go to place for children, families, and seniors with activities like pickleball, aquarobics, and a splash down the Grove Cove water slide. From basketball to birthday parties, banquets to bustling conferences, and sports tournaments to weddings, many of us have shared some significant moments of our lives there.

My bill (House File 933) proposes to allow the city of Maple Grove to impose a half a cent local sales tax based on voter approval to fund potential projects, like the Maple Grove Community Center. LOST or Local Option Sales Tax is a way to fund improvements in our city without raising property taxes - and would be shared by all people that visit, work, and live in our city.  

The expansion and renovation will include critical cost saving measures to install energy efficient systems while renovating existing banquet and meeting spaces, and expanding aquatic and athletic spaces. It will serve the needs of an age-friendly Maple Grove through greater services to seniors and meet residents where they are by expanding access to food and housing support.

Happy Technology Workforce Month!

Governor Walz proclaimed the month of April as Technology Workforce Month in Minnesota last week! As many of you know, I have worked for nearly 20+ years in the technology industry and my own small business consulting firm in this field.  For that reason, STEM/Steam has a special place in my heart. I also have the pleasure to serve on the bi-partisan, Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commision on Information Technology (IT), the Board of MN Cyber, and lead legislative efforts on key pieces of legislation (H.F. 66) and (H.F. 609) to modernize and invest in state government technology infrastructure to better and more efficiently serve Minnesotans and do so responsibly. I am pleased to share that HF609 will be headed to the House Floor for a full vote of the Minnesota House of Representatives today.

As a team leader in the technology space, now is a great opportunity to celebrate the technology workforce that flourishes as a part of our local economy. So many of our neighbors here in Maple Grove and Osseo are a key part of this workforce or own businesses focused on technology that looks to the future. I am proud to meet so many of these folks who are both my colleagues and my neighbors every day.

Lastly, as state legislators, I hope we continue to inspire younger generations to pursue a career in technology! I am always open to meeting with these inspiring young leaders and have thoroughly enjoyed meeting with a number of you already.

Small Businesses: Progress on Paycheck Protection Program Conformity

Tax Conformity has been a hot topic particularly for PPP loan recipients, I am proud to be a co-author of HF501 authored by the Chair for the House Tax Committee, Rep. Paul Marquart. I have heard from many of you on this topic, plain and simple, we will get this done.  

As you may know, many businesses in Minnesota have suffered over the past year. To support these businesses, the federal government offered Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Prior to the Spring Break, the Minnesota Senate advanced HF 501 with a bipartisan floor vote. The bill would provide state conformity to the federal tax rules and exempt these loans from taxation.

The Senate passed a version that attempts to adopt conformity, but leaves out workers hardest hit in addition to our businesses. The House has a version of the bill that aims to do both as it also looks at workers getting an unexpected tax bill from UI wages. 

One thing we know is that every business was impacted differently, some struggled tremendously to stay open and remain solvent, some barely squeaked by managing to survive, while some even flourished. Approximately 68% percent of PPP loans went to businesses who operated at a loss in 2020, and those businesses would not receive any benefit in 2020 from federal conformity. These businesses include the local restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and entertainment venues harmed the most by the pandemic. Businesses that did not receive PPP loans would see no benefit, nor would unemployment insurance recipients.

The intention of the PPP loans was to ensure the survival of these businesses. While some have been fortunate to make it through, there is no desire to punish these businesses for the courage and strength it took to get through what may be the toughest year they will ever experience.

Please know, I am committed to helping small businesses and families get back on the road to recovery. This tax filing season, please visit the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s website with information on their resources, including COVID-19 relief available for businesses, and sign up for updates.

Heroes Legislation

Earned Sick and Safe Time for Minnesota Workers: 

One of the bills we advanced before the legislative recess ensures that Minnesotans aren’t forced to choose between a paycheck and taking care of themselves or a loved one. Under this legislation, workers would earn at least one hour of paid Earned Sick and Safe Time for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. Workers can use this time to stay home when they’re sick, to take care of a family member, or for an absence related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. 

COVID-19 has demonstrated that we all benefit when workers have the ability to stay home without missing their paycheck. This bill would make our workplaces, schools, and communities healthier, and I am proud to support it in the House. 

Preventing Wage Discrimination: 

Recently, the Minnesota House also advanced the Preventing Discrimination Act, a bill that halts wage discrimination and brings us one step closer to closing the pay gap that exists between men and women. States that have implemented similar policies have seen an eight percent increase in pay for women.

I Want to Hear from You

As your Representative, I’m committed to helping everyone recover and rebuild from COVID, and ensuring Minnesotans have affordable health care, economic security and great educational opportunities. My mission is to help Minnesotans get through this pandemic and allow our community to thrive once again.

If you have not yet taken the District 34B Legislative Survey, please use the following link to submit your input. I appreciate hearing from you!

 

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

While we overcome the COVID-19 crisis and create a better Minnesota, I urge you all to stay in touch with me through e-mail, and help make our community a place for unity.

Thank you for the honor of representing our Maple Grove and Osseo residents and families in the Minnesota House! 

Sincerely,

State Representative Kristin Bahner

Common Sense - Common Ground - Common Good

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