With the dust settling on the 2021 legislative session, I wanted to share a series of “Top 10” lists with you this summer, based on our work this year. This week, I’m starting with the laws we passed in our new two-year state budget. Despite being the only divided legislature in the nation, we were able to secure a compromise on a strong budget that prioritizes those most impacted by the pandemic – families, workers, students, and small businesses.
Top 10 Legislative Victories for Minnesotans
- Historic investments in public education: We provided a historic increase in funding for public schools, the largest in more than 15 years. In addition, we passed new investments to create more pathways for teachers of color in our classrooms.
- Significant steps to address the child care crisis: We expanded access to child care and protected pre-K opportunities for 4,000 young Minnesotans. We did so through an injection of $100 million to update CCAP rates and efforts to preserve pre-K scholarships. For the first time, the legislature is also directing funds to support Family, Friend and Neighbor child care networks, part of my bill that has been championed by our local child care providers in Richfield.
- Financial support for our front line workers: We secured $250 million in financial support for frontline workers who sacrificed their health to keep all of us safe during the pandemic. Stay tuned, as a bipartisan committee continues to work on details on how we deliver this relief to those most in need, which we’ll pass in a brief September special session.
- Preventing an eviction crisis: Governor Walz’s eviction moratorium put in place at the beginning of the pandemic saved lives. Our agreement on an eviction moratorium off-ramp will help save the livelihoods of both renters and landlords, while preventing an eviction crisis.
- Targeted tax cuts for workers and small businesses harmed by the pandemic: Our final tax bill included relief to workers and small businesses that lost wages and income during the pandemic. We also provided relief to the small businesses in Minneapolis and St. Paul that were damaged during the unrest after the murder of George Floyd.
- Substantial reforms to Minnesota’s sexual assault laws that will help survivors get justice: We closed the “Intoxication Loophole” and removed the statute of limitations for indictments on complaints for sexual assaults. These new laws send a clear message to victim-survivors, one that says their voices matter and that if and when they choose to report their victimization, there will be a system in place that will work to ensure that justice is sought.
- Overdue raise for our PCAs: Delivering an overdue pay raise for workers providing personal care to the elderly and people with disabilities, as well as additional support for home and community-based services to help people live independently.
- Innovative anti-poverty investments: We made innovative investments to prevent homelessness, including a bill I authored to provide $12 million in ongoing funding for Emergency Service grants. We also approved an innovative tax credit to keep students who experience housing instability in their homes. An annual Cost-of-Living increase for our families receiving MFIP is a big victory as well.
- Protecting our environment, investing in clean energy: We banned harmful “PFAs” from food packaging and invested in a strong budget to maintain our natural resources and outdoors. In addition, we took important steps to combat climate change, including a new “Solar on Schools” program, and invested in energy efficiency initiatives to reduce emissions, lower costs and pave the way for more renewable energy.
- Responsible transition from Governor Walz’s COVID powers: With case rates dropping and vaccine rates ticking up, we were able to pass a bipartisan end to the Governor’s COVID executive powers. I am proud of the work we accomplished in partnership throughout the pandemic to save lives and provide economic assistance to those who have been impacted through no fault of their own. (IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This pandemic is NOT over! Do your part and get vaccinated. And if you already are, tell your neighbors and friends)!
This is just a smattering of the key victories in our recently passed budget. That said, there remains so much to be done to build for a better future in our great state. My next e-update will focus on a Top 10 List of “Unfinished Business” of the session. So stay tuned while you enjoy the summer.