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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Anne Claflin (DFL)

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Legislative Update - June 7, 2019

Friday, June 07, 2019

Dear neighbors,

My colleagues and I recently finished approving a two-year state budget. As one of the only divided legislatures in the United States, I’m proud that we were able to work together and reach a bipartisan agreement. While the new budget doesn’t contain everything that I’d hoped for, it makes strong investments in our students, protects health care for 1.2 million Minnesotans, and enacts the strongest wage theft protections in the country.

If you’d like to hear more about what we accomplished this session, please join Rep. Rick Hansen, Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, and me on Monday, June 10 for a legislative wrap-up! All community members are welcome to share their questions, feedback, and ideas for moving Minnesota forward.

E-12 and Higher Education

The E-12 education section is one of the highlights of the budget. My colleagues and I prevented Republican cuts that would’ve led to teacher and staff layoffs, larger class sizes, and higher costs to local taxpayers and successfully fought for strong investments in all our students. We secured an annual two percent increase in per-student funding, delivered significant funding for special education services, and preserved access to pre-kindergarten for 4,000 of Minnesota’s young learners.

Here’s how much total funding for schools in our area will increase over two years:

School District

Total Increase in Funding

Hastings

$2,836,005

North St. Paul – Maplewood – Oakdale

$8,191,608

South St. Paul

$2,813,737

South Washington County

$10,608,673

The higher education budget includes funding for the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. It provides new resources for students, including mental health services and loan counseling. Minnesota students who participate in the state grant program will receive more financial assistance each month, and others will be eligible for the program for the first time.

Health and Human Services

In the health and human services budget, we secured permanent funding for the Health Care Access Fund. Without it, 1.2 million Minnesotans would lose their health insurance.

I also supported three health care bills that were recently signed into law. In response to reports of abuse and maltreatment in assisted living facilities, my colleagues and I worked together to pass comprehensive legislation to protect elderly and vulnerable Minnesotans. We addressed the opioid epidemic too. Our plan delivers prevention, treatment, and recovery resources and holds opioid manufacturers accountable for their role in creating this public health crisis. We also took action to lower the cost of prescription drugs by regulating pharmaceutical middle men.

Jobs and Energy

As a member of the Jobs and Economic Development Committee, I’m proud of a lot in this budget. One of our priorities this session was ensuring that Minnesotans receive an hour’s pay for an hour’s work and that employers who take advantage of workers are held accountable. We were able to work with Senate Republicans to pass the strongest wage theft protections and enforcement in the country. The budget also helps Minnesotans develop new skills or start a business and supports workers with disabilities.

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans were unwilling to work with us in other areas. They opposed giving workers time to care for themselves and their families through paid family and medical leave and earned sick and safe time and refused to address the current threat of climate change. I’ll keep fighting for economic security for our families and clean energy.

Three of my bills were part of the jobs and energy budget and signed into law last week! One will encourage businesses to expand and attract out-of-state businesses by investing in the Job Creation Fund (HF 1185). Another awards grants to communities to help address the shortage of affordable, high-quality child care options that are available to working families (HF 2474). My third bill establishes the foundation for efficient energy storage in Minnesota (HF 1165). Our state didn’t have any policies for energy storage previously, so this is an important step forward.

Taxes

Our compromise tax bill cuts taxes for many Minnesotans and makes the filing process easier for most people by doubling the standard deduction and lowering the income tax rate for the first time in two decades. The plan provides targeted tax cuts and credits for seniors, farmers, and small businesses. Thanks to increases in local government aid and county program aid, local governments will be able to invest in their communities without relying on property tax increases.

Environment and Natural Resources

My colleagues and I worked hard to find innovative solutions for long-term environmental issues. The environment and natural resources budget includes a comprehensive plan to address the outbreak of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disorder that threatens our state’s deer population. It also helps communities manage emerald ash borer issues and stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. Other provisions aim to reduce the use of toxic chemicals, protect pollinators and other species, and provide Minnesotans with more access to the great outdoors.

Please stay tuned for further details. Feel free to call or email me with questions or feedback.

Sincerely,

Anne Claflin
State Representative

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