It’s been a difficult month in Minnesota. While Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd last week, his trial was a reminder of all the injustices that still need to be addressed in our public safety system and society as a whole. Later that week, Daunte Wright was laid to rest after being killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer. I am holding all those who continue to be hurt by our systems and structures close to my heart and filled with an immense sense of responsibility to fight even harder for a just, fair, compassionate, and kind world.
Join Our Town Hall This Weekend
Rep. Pinto, Sen. Murphy, and I are eager to share updates from the Capitol, answer questions, and discuss the issues that are important to you. We hope that you’ll participate in our next virtual town hall this Sunday, May 2 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. If you’d like to join us, please register at https://forms.gle/zrQM5nx7FKKdi4je6. You will receive a Zoom link before the event begins.
Developing a State Budget
With four weeks remaining in the legislative session, my colleagues and I are working hard to create meaningful change and develop a strong, equitable budget for the next two years. On Monday, we finished passing our budget bills, comprehensive plans for each area of the budget (E-12 Education, Health and Human Services, and so on) that contain many individual bills. Together, the budget bills reflect our vision for the future and the feedback we’ve heard from Minnesotans.
After the Senate passes their own budget proposals, legislators from the House and the Senate will meet in conference committees to develop bills that both bodies can agree on. Finding strong compromises will be difficult, but I will keep fighting to ensure that all Minnesotans have the resources to weather the pandemic and thrive after it ends.
Delivering Police Reform and Accountability
Last Wednesday, the House passed our Public Safety, Criminal Justice Reform, Judiciary, and Civil Law Budget. This legislation contains critical changes that would improve these systems and reinforce Minnesotans’ right to be safe and treated equitably, such as:
If you’d like to learn more, you can check out the list of reform and accountability measures in the bill.
The budget aims to prevent hate crimes by increasing reporting, analysis, and training on crimes motivated by bias. It also closes the “voluntary intoxication” loophole that forced the Minnesota Supreme Court to rule that survivors of sexual assault could not be considered “mentally incapacitated” if they became intoxicated after voluntarily consuming alcohol. Other important measures would strengthen Minnesota’s criminal sexual conduct laws, provide more opportunities for treatment and rehabilitation, and decriminalize poverty.
Supporting the Minnesotans Impacted Most by COVID-19
Minnesotans take care of one another. We know that when we’re doing well, it’s our responsibility to care for those who are not. While many Minnesotans are struggling due to the pandemic, COVID-19 hasn’t impacted everyone equally. Our Tax proposal, which we approved last Thursday, supports the people who were impacted most, including small businesses and working families. I authored a portion of the bill that asks the wealthiest individuals in our state to pay their fair share so all Minnesotans can thrive. Asking those who’ve benefitted from rising inequality to contribute will make our tax system fairer and position Minnesota for long-term success.
Investing in Safe and Affordable Housing
It’s difficult to secure a job, do well in school, manage your health, or build wealth without safe and affordable housing. That’s why housing sits at the intersection of disparities in employment, education, health, and economics. We recently passed a Housing budget that would address these disparities and help more Minnesotans find a stable place to call home. The investments in this bill would increase the housing supply, connect more people with homeownership opportunities, and help close the racial homeownership gap.
The budget also contains strong protections for Minnesota renters, including people of color and Indigenous people who are disproportionately impacted by certain practices. For example, it includes bills I introduced that prohibit landlords from charging non-optional fees, allow tenants to expunge evictions from their rental history, require landlords to provide a 14-day notice before filing an eviction, expand the conditions under which renters can petition for emergency relief, and allow renters to terminate their lease if they need to move into a medical care facility.
Rent and Energy Assistance Available
On a related note, rent and energy assistance are available for Minnesotans who are struggling to make ends meet. To find out if you’re eligible for help with overdue rent and utilities, low- and moderate-income renters can visit renthelpmn.org and download the renter checklist. Resources are available for landlords as well.
Minnesotans can also apply for help with utility payments, disconnections or fuel deliveries, and repairing or replacing heating systems. You can find more information about the state’s Energy Assistance Plan at the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s website.
If you’d like to stay informed during the final weeks of the legislative session, please like my Facebook page for frequent updates. Feel free to share this email with family, friends, and neighbors who might be interested as well; if they’d like to subscribe, they can do so at https://bit.ly/HerUpdates.
Please continue sharing your questions, ideas, and feedback and let me know if I can be of assistance. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-8799.
Kaohly Vang Her