At the State Capitol, we’re working to put together a new two-year state budget that helps Minnesotans rebound from the pandemic and succeed and thrive once we’ve moved on from it. Over three million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, and half of Minnesotans 16 or older have received at least one dose. By investing in a Minnesota that works for everyone, we can all experience the prosperous future all Minnesotans deserve.
This has been a difficult week for our region following the tragic killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center on Sunday. He is one more on the list of Black Minnesotans tragically killed at the hands of law enforcement. His life mattered, and he should still be alive.
No matter where we were born, how we pray, or what we look like, every Minnesotan wants to make it home at the end of the day. Last session, I supported a variety of measures to address the problem, including requiring more effective crisis intervention training, a ban on the use of chokeholds, a prohibition on warrior-style training, and a requirement that officers intercede when another officer is using excessive force. While these were a step in the right direction, they were only meant to be a first step in addressing our need for criminal justice system reform.
This session, the work continues to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone – whether they live in an urban, suburban, or rural area – with no exceptions. Our Public Safety and Judiciary Budget bill contains measures to:
I am glad to know that many people who live in our district are continuing to speak out about the need for such reforms. When I hosted a community event on criminal justice reform shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was well attended, and many constituents continue to reach out about this issue. We can and must do better.
The bipartisan bill I authored to close loopholes in our sexual assault laws continues to advance in both the House and Senate. You can learn more about that legislation here.
Yesterday on the House Floor we started the process of debating and voting on the bills that encompass a new state budget. Here are some highlights from the legislation we approved yesterday and are considering today.
In 2008, Minnesotans voted to adopt the Legacy Amendment, which increased sales taxes by three-eighths of one percent. The revenue this constitutional amendment generates is divided between four funds. Sixty-six percent of the revenue is split evenly between the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Clean Water Fund, 19.75 percent goes to the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and the Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent. All of these funds are appropriated every two years except the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which is appropriated annually.
The 2021 Legacy bill reflects our commitment to ensuring that Legacy Amendment funds benefit all Minnesotans and takes important steps to address racial and cultural inequities.
Last night the House of Representatives approved the Housing Bill, which funds a variety of programs aimed at helping create more affordable housing, and provisions to ensure Minnesotans can have the safe, secure, and affordable housing they deserve. Minnesota was experiencing an affordable housing crisis well before COVID-19. Now, that crisis has intensified, and we need to invest in innovative solutions to take on housing insecurity.
Measures in the bill include those to invest in various affordable housing related programs and contain sections related to residential landlord/tenant law and manufactured housing.
State Government, Elections and Veterans
As our state continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Government, Elections, and Veterans bill includes investments in the responsive state government Minnesotans deserve to meet this moment and assist in our economic recovery. The bill also invests in Minnesota’s veterans with additional funding for our state veterans homes, funding to help end veteran homelessness, strategies to prevent veteran suicide, and a pathway for veterans who have been charged with crimes stemming from service-related trauma to get mental health or substance abuse help as an alternative to incarceration. The bill also includes several provisions to strengthen our democracy and elections including those to solidify and expand Minnesota’s nation-leading election administration system.
Minnesotans expect our roads and bridges to be safe and efficient, but all across the state, our transportation infrastructure continues to deteriorate. Many bridges are near collapse. Our transportation budget makes direct investments in transportation to address the long-term safety risk posed by our aging roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure. The bill helps Minnesota grow our multimodal transportation system to help people get where they need to go no matter where they live, with investments in including pedestrian and bike infrastructure, transit investments in both the metro and greater Minnesota, road safety improvements, rail projects, and more.
This spring and summer the Minnesota Department of Transportation is installing MnPASS lanes in the north metro which will result in road closures, lane alterations, and ramp closures. It will ultimately reduce congestion but right now, I recognize this is likely to cause additional travel time. MnDOT has background information and will provide updates throughout the project.
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