Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a quick update on the things I’ve been working on over the past week.
On Monday in the Ways and Means Committee we heard testimony from Secretary of State Steve Simon on the Help America Vote Act. Minnesota wouldn’t have to pay anything to unlock $6.6 million in federal funds to upgrade our election system and improve our election security. Minnesota is the very last state to unlock this money. It’s just common sense, and I’m hopeful we will get this signed into law. More from the Star Tribune here.
Criminal Justice Reform
Today I had the first hearing on a bill that would reduce the use of cash bail for certain offenses. Under the bill, defendants charged with certain misdemeanors would be released without financial conditions unless the court found there was a substantial likelihood that the defendant would flee or endanger public safety. This bill is important because people who commit minor offenses should be able to continue contributing to our society through work, education, and family responsibilities. Cash bail serves essentially as a get out of jail free card that applies only to people who can afford it, while people who can't afford it are often forced to pay unconscionable rates in bail bonds or remain in jail before they’ve been convicted of a crime. Minnesota allows bail bonds to charge up to 10 percent of the bail amount.
Rep. Noor testifying on behalf of cash bail reform
Furthermore, Minnesotans who’ve served their time and are living in their community should be allowed to vote. Felony disenfranchisement prevents Minnesotans with criminal convictions from having a stake in their communities, and a voice in decisions that affect all aspects of their lives. Our bill to restore voting rights has had bipartisan support, and it’s time for Minnesota to join the other states that have already done this. You can read more about our efforts to expand voting rights here.
Black History Month
If you missed my Facebook Live discussing Black History Month and the persistence of racial inequities in our state, you can watch it here.
On the 26th I am hosting (along with the rest of the United Black Legislative Caucus) a film screening and discussion at the Minnesota History Center. Sign up here.
Next week I will have hearings on two bills. On Tuesday at 8am I will have a hearing on H.F. 397, which provides funding for I-94, in the Capital Investment Committee. On Wednesday at 8am in the Housing Finance and Policy Committee I will have a hearing on H.F. 495, which amends the requirements for residential leases to protect renters.
Please continue to send questions and comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-4257.