I hope you’re having a good week. Let’s hope the start of May on Sunday brings more sunshine and warmth! Yesterday, the House, Senate, and Governor reached an agreement on legislation to deliver hero checks to frontline workers who sacrificed their health and their families’ safety to protect us during the height of the pandemic.
The deal also includes replenishing the Unemployment Insurance trust fund, preserving our small businesses from a massive tax increase as they are just getting back on their feet.
Though this is good news, it’s also not perfect news. Lost in this compromise are our hourly school workers. As a former EA/para staff, and a proud graduate of SPPS, I can't turn my back on the very people who provided me a good education and who I know are struggling. Shame that the Senate wouldn’t let us include them as eligible for unemployment insurance.
This week, we had a flurry of activity on the House Floor, passing supplemental budget bills that invest in our students, schools, agriculture, natural resources, transportation safety and infrastructure and more. Here’s an update on our progress in the House:
Invest in Students and Teachers
Minnesota students deserve every opportunity to succeed. The House education bill addresses the key funding shortfalls that have been identified by our local school boards. When I meet with our local school boards, they raise the same issues every year - we’re not supporting our students and teachers enough.
Minnesota currently has one of the worst highest student-to-counselor ratios in the country. Especially after how hard the pandemic has been on our kids, we need to make sure that mental health resources are available and accessible. Our bill includes dedicated investment to hire additional mental health counselors.
Our communities have always been proud of our outstanding public schools and these investments will enable them to continue to succeed with less pressure to increase their local property tax levies. Let’s make sure that every Minnesota student, no matter what they look like or where they’re from, is able to access a high-quality education. This is a good investment in our students and while I’m glad it passed, it was disappointing to hear LGBTQ rhetoric and hate from my GOP colleagues on the House Floor. You can find more details from Kare11’s news coverage here.
We also passed our higher education bill this week, including a historic proposal that will provide free 2-year college for students. Our students have struggled under predatory loan policies and the high cost of living and learning. Students today are often the working poor. Here’s a clip of Rep. Noor’s floor remarks.
Ensure Stable, Affordable Housing for All
Having a safe and secure place to call home is essential to public health, educational achievement, and economic security. We’ve worked hard this session to put together a Housing bill that invests in first-generation homeownership, supports our renters, and prioritizes keeping unsheltered Minnesotans safe. It also reduces costs for families by investing $2 billion dollars to help all Minnesotans secure a place to call home, ensuring stability for families and a more prosperous state where everyone can thrive. You can find more details from our non-partisan House news coverage here.
Support our Infrastructure, Ensure Equitable Transportation
We’ve put forward a balanced transportation bill that funds roads, bridges, EV charging infrastructure, bus rapid transit (including the electrification of the transit fleet) and intercity rail; as well as improved customer service in Driver and Vehicle Services and a safer public transit system.
The transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. We’re tackling the climate crisis by making critical investments supporting the transition to electric vehicles. You can find more details from our non-partisan House news coverage here.
Keep Minnesota Air, Water, and Land Clean
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. You can find more details from our non-partisan House news coverage here.
I was happy that this bill included my proposal to clean up Pig’s Eye dump. This area has the misfortune of being one of the oldest dump sites in our state's history. From the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling to Wakan Tipi and Pig's Eye, this area has been crucial to our history and sacred to the civilizations which have come before us. We must begin to clean up this place and improve it for both the environment's sake as well as for the sake of our human health. This is about equity.
Support Free and Fair Elections
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 local elections officials. There are also significant investments in upgrading our outdated core administrative software systems and beefing up our cybersecurity capabilities. Here’s a clip of the discussion.
Caring for Our Veterans
Too many families have had to deal with the unimaginable grief of losing a loved one to suicide. We’ve let our veterans go unsupported for too long. The House DFL’s Veterans budget includes a variety of solutions to tackle this epidemic and better address veterans’ mental health difficulties. We also include provisions to end veteran homelessness and provide additional economic security for veterans who need it.
Supporting Small Farmers and Soil Health
Investing in sustainable agriculture is one of the quickest ways to support our climate and environment. This includes new investments in the soil-healthy grain 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 from diverse backgrounds get into the industry.
Next week, we’ll be taking up our Health and Human Services bill on Tuesday and the Tax bill on Wednesday. I’ll be sure to fill you in on those details when we pass the bills.
Ensuring Everyone’s Safety
All Minnesotans deserve to be safe, no matter where they live or what they look like. As I write this e-update, we’re discussing our Public Safety, Criminal Justice, and Judiciary bill on the House floor. Access to justice is the right of every single person. House DFLers have worked hard to put together a bill that reduces crime, supports law enforcement, and ensures that the system works for everyone.
The package invests $200 million in proven, transformative and innovative solutions to help Minnesota tackle some of the largest challenges to keeping communities safe. Unlike the Senate approach, this bill isn't built to engineer political slogans for political gain while dividing our state along regional and racial lines. Instead it's built to beat back crime by providing law enforcement with additional investigators, analysts, state assistance from prosecutors, mental health crisis response personnel, probation monitoring, victims' services, embedded social workers, juvenile diversion programs, drug treatment facilities, equipment and much more.
Keep in Touch
Don’t hesitate to reach out if I can provide any assistance. You can always reach me at email@example.com. Please follow me on my Facebook page for further updates and invite your friends and family to do so as well.
Thanks for the honor of representing you at the Capitol.