I hope you are able to get out and enjoy the upcoming beautiful weather, after the huge storms that have passed through here. Things have been quite busy in the legislature and I’m happy to share some updates with you.
We passed our compromise veterans and military affairs supplemental budget bill with strong bipartisan support. This bill will take action to end veteran homelessness and provide assistance to veterans who need it. Our veterans provide us a priceless service and it is our duty as legislators to support them. This bill will now go to the Governor’s desk for his signature..
We passed legislation to regulate structured settlements, providing more protections and ensuring Minnesotans are less likely to be taken advantage of. Often Minnesotans will only receive a fraction of the settlement they are entitled to, a problem the Star Tribune highlighted late last fall and this bill will fix the problem. We also passed a bill to create an ombudsman for foster care to begin the process to improve our foster care programs. Children in our foster system are very vulnerable, and it’s critical we provide them with the protection and care they need for healthy and fulfilling lives.
These last few weeks have been very busy as we work to pass our omnibus supplemental bills on various subjects. We are now meeting with the Senate in conference committees to hash out the differences and meet somewhere in the middle. Here are the House DFL bills which reflect our vision for the budget that serves all Minnesotans.
Minnesota students deserve every opportunity to succeed. House DFLers are delivering necessary support for students and educators, while the Senate GOP’s plan funds far less. We need to invest in our students and our communities to thrive. We used to take pride in our nation-leading public education system, we can once more with this education budget. Our bill will also deliver necessary support for students and educators, invest in mental health support, and work to close the special education and English language learner cross subsidy gaps in our State. We need to fully fund education, this is an investment in our kids and an investment in our future.
Our Health and Human Services bill is focused on delivering clear results for all, including lower healthcare/drug costs, expanding access, improving workforce conditions, and so much more.
This is also where our early childhood funds are housed. Our plan to invest in child care and early learning will put thousands of the youngest Minnesotans on the path to success. It will also help parents to work, employers to grow, and communities to thrive - now and long into the future. I’m very proud of my work on this bill and happy to see it move forward.
Our tax bill will increase affordability for Minnesotans across the state. It’s getting harder for Minnesotans to pay their rent and mortgage. Our bill will reduce Minnesotans’ housing costs by making the biggest investment in property tax refunds and renter’s credits in decades. Overall, families with young children, senior citizens living on fixed incomes, and people with student loan debt will benefit the most from the tax bill passed by the house. We need to help those regular Minnesotans who need it most, not the most wealthy who are doing just fine.
We need to take the climate crisis seriously, as one of the fastest warming states in the country, Minnesota is already experiencing impacts of climate change. Our climate and energy bill prioritizes clean energy, funds for weatherization, electrifications of our transportation sector, and investments in energy storage. The more we invest in climate action now, the more we will save in the future by reducing the negative impacts of climate change.
Our housing bill recognizes having a safe and secure place to call home is beneficial to public health, educational achievement, and economic security. We provide opportunities to build more stable communities through home ownership and protections for renters and landlords. It also prioritizes keeping unsheltered Minnesotans safe and provides pathways out of homelessness by investing a historic amount toward preventing homelessness. With nearly $10 billion in resources, it’s unacceptable for Minnesotans to be experiencing homelessness, we can and must invest to be sure everyone has a roof over their head and a safe place to call home .
Our comprehensive transportation bill invests heavily in transit options like BRT (bus rapid transit) and rail, repairs critical road infrastructure, and improves drivers services. The transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. House DFLers are tackling the climate crisis by making critical investments in the electric vehicle transition to public transit infrastructure.
Our public safety system is broken and we need new ideas to fix it. The system should work for everyone, and that includes holding officers accountable and making sure everyone is safe in their community. The House DFL bill prioritizes accountability, rebuilds trust, and invests in crime prevention where we need it most. Minnesota has a constitutional duty to provide legal services to all Minnesotans, but the state has continued to fail to meet that obligation. That’s why this bill fully invests in our justice system for the first time in years.
As Minnesotans, we’re proud of our clean air, water, and soil and the many plants and animals that call our state home. The environment bill will preserve these valuable resources. We are also funding innovative climate solutions and taking action to reduce lead contamination and exposure to dangerous chemicals like PFAS.
Much of this session has been focused on making sure that the workers who helped make our economic recovery happen receive the aid they need. Our labor bill lifts up workers and small businesses, particularly those in disadvantaged communities, and businesses owned by women, veterans, and people of color. This bill delivers Paid Family & Medical Leave and Earned Sick & Safe Time as well as resources like a Redevelopment Program to help local units of government improve blighted properties for development, and Small Business Recovery Grants for businesses that continue to be impacted by COVID, inflation, supply chain issues, and the workforce shortage.
In the Commerce bill we take measures to help Minnesotans through the creation of a Student Loan Advocate who will improve borrower outcomes, new steps to prevent catalytic converter and automobile theft, and increasing funding to fight fraud which targets seniors. Kids deserve to have a childhood without being targeted by harmful big tech algorithms. This bill would also prohibit social media platforms from delivering harmful user-created content to people under the age of 18.
Minnesotans regularly lead the nation in voter turnout, thanks in part to our exceptional elections system. We’re building upon that success by investing in our elections infrastructure, expanding the security and integrity of absentee ballots, and protecting our elections officials. This bill also contains provisions to ban lobbyist social clubs, redesign the flag, and make state statutes conform with the Equal Rights Amendment.
Our Legacy bill will make sure we are protecting and enhancing Minnesota's outdoor heritage, clean water, arts and cultural heritage, and parks and trails. These are the investments that make our state such a great place to live. Thanks is owed to you, the voters, for approving the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008!
Minnesota should lead the way in resilient, sustainable farming, including new investments in Kernza and other emerging soil and water-friendly crops. House DFLers are delivering new investments in farmers and food producers so we can maintain a strong Ag Economy. We also take measures to improve urban agriculture and to help new farmers and BIPOC Minnesotans get into the industry.
Broadband is vital to the success of rural communities, but there are too many unacceptable service gaps throughout the state. For many years, House DFLers have been committed to ensuring all Minnesotans have the high-speed internet access they expect and deserve. Our broadband bill continues this effort and will make sure that you will have fast internet no matter which part of the state you call home.
As always, feel free to reach out with any feedback or questions you have for me! I always appreciate working in partnership with you. You can also follow me on my Facebook page. Everything is moving quickly right now so be sure to stay connected.