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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jay Xiong (DFL)

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We're back in session

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Rep. Xiong

Neighbors,

The 2020 legislative session started, so I wanted to give a brief update on the issues I've been focused on for our community, including environmental sustainability, jobs, education, immigration, and election access. I will also continue our work to pass some bills you may remember from last year: common sense gun violence prevention, emergency access to insulin, and Logan's Law to allow same-sex couples to become the rightful parents of their child.

Environmental Justice

The Minnesota Department of Health recently released a new map of lead exposure in Minnesota, showing neighborhoods throughout the state that have a higher risk of lead exposure, and the East Side is one area that has elevated lead levels. This is unacceptable, and it's indicative of our need to elevate and prioritize the health of communities that have been disproportionately impacted by corporate pollution and climate change. 

I also introduced legislation this week to address PFAS - industrial chemicals that can have long-term health consequences. This has been a concern for our community since foam containing PFAS was found in Battle Creek. And I know many of you who worked hard on this issue. If passed, my legislation would provide funding to test the deer population, and develop protocols for alerting the public when PFAS are detected. We need to start holding polluters of our environment accountable.

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Infrastructure

The 10,000 commuters who cross the Kellogg Bridge every day rely on it to live their lives. It connects the Eastside with the rest of the St. Paul community. Our state received a “C” grade on our last Infrastructure Report Card, and this bridge is the perfect example of investments our state needs to make in our roads, bridges, and sidewalks to keep our communities safe. As I did last year, I’m going to continue to fight for strong infrastructure funding, including in the Kellogg Bridge. 

Youth Jobs

I am also introducing legislation that would provide workforce development funding for the St. Paul Boys and Girls Club to replace funding that was cut during the 2019 legislative session. We need to ensure our youth are ready for the real world and have the skills to thrive especially in our city where many do not have access to resources and opportunities. These small steps make all the difference.

Addressing Education Disparities 

During the interim, I have been visiting schools in our district to hear from teachers, students, parents and administrators about the education challenges and opportunities we face, and I look forward to tackling the issues this session. We must to continue to address disparities in education for our children. Last Monday, my colleagues Rep. Rena Moran and Rep. Ruth Richardson held a community listening session on addressing educational disparities. This Monday, our DFL caucus introduced legislation to fund pre-K. But more work needs to be done. I look forward to hearing from many of you this session on addressing educational outcomes for our students.

Immigration Rights 

No one is illegal. This week, I introduced legislation, similar to ordinance in NYC, that would protect our undocumented brothers and sisters from discriminating practices. We cannot tolerate language of hate, and we must not allow those in power to use the power of language to denigrate and dehumanize a community. As a policymaker, it is my duty to defend the dignity of all people who live in our state.

Immigration is what gives us strength and that is what has brought our great values together to make us the America we know today. And I will not stand by and let people further humiliate people who are undocumented. They deserve to be here just as you and I do, just as your ancestors and my ancestors made the trek here. The reasons for immigration have always been the same: fleeing war, economic turmoil, famine, religious persecution, cultural and ethnic genocide, political persecution, gang warfare and internal political violence and strife.

We need to accept that when we facilitate trade and war, we also facilitate the movement of peoples. No One is Illegal. Everyone is here to make their best life and improve their chances for attaining the American dream. We are strong because we are a melting pot of ideals, culture and people.

Elections

I am also continuing to work on several bills that will increase language access for voters to: 

  • Require voting instructions in languages other than English for in-person absentee voting. This would require instructions in at least Spanish, Hmong, and Somali
  • Require voting instructions and sample ballots to be printed in multiple languages for designated precincts, which would also have multilingual election judges 
  • Require interpreters for political caucuses when needed

Our ballot boxes need to be accessible to everyone to ensure our democracy is fully representative of all our communities. 

We want to hear from you!

Take our quick survey and share your feedback about Saint Paul’s snow emergency communications. Survey will be open until Monday, February 17 here.

As always, let me know if you have comments or questions about the upcoming session, or if there's something you want me to work on! Reach me at rep.jay.xiong@house.mn or 651-296-4201.

Sincerely,

Rep. Jay Xiong

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