Happy July! Can’t believe it’s already here.
We have been through so much lately, but the fight continues. The activist Supreme Court has made a slew of harmful decisions in the last week: overturning abortion rights, upholding prayer in school, making it harder to regulate guns, and making it easier for government agents to enter your home.
We are at a crisis moment for abortion access. Given the Supreme Court decision to overthrow Roe v. Wade, there is no doubt that we need to protect a person’s right to make their own healthcare decisions, including whether to terminate a pregnancy or secure family planning services and products. While Minnesota’s Constitution protects access to abortion care, we must act now to further strengthen the right to access safe, legal abortion in our state.
I am a co-author of the PRO Act (House File 259), which aims to establish fundamental reproductive health rights in Minnesota by codifying the right to abortion and reproductive health care into our state law. This legislation protects Minnesotans’ right to contraception, the right to carry a pregnancy to term and the right to abortion – free from interference by anti-abortion politicians who seek to enact or defend medically unnecessary barriers to comprehensive reproductive health care.
In addition, I want to raise your awareness of the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act (House File 4900). This effort aims to protect Minnesota’s medical providers and all patients from legal action connected to restrictive abortion laws in other states. Similar bills have been introduced across the country and it was recently signed into law in Connecticut.
The unfortunate reality is that, despite the fact that the majority of Minnesotans support safe, legal abortion, enacting these bills into law will not be easy. Although Democrats in the Minnesota House of Representatives and Governor Walz will never allow extreme politicians to gut Minnesotans’ abortion rights, the Republicans who currently control the Minnesota Senate have been adamant in their opposition to these bills and, in fact, seek to further cripple Minnesotans’ ability to exercise their reproductive freedom.
Given the fact that the regular 2022 Legislative Session has ended, we will need to ramp up our efforts to position ourselves to strengthen abortion access next year. I hope that you will continue to join me in this fight.
It is reprehensible that we are the developed country with the worst maternal health disparities, and now we will be one of only a sliver of countries that does not guarantee reproductive rights. People will die and unrightfully go to jail because of this decision. Our POCI Caucus and the Black Maternal Health Caucus are working to address these unacceptable disparities, I hope that you follow our journey. My colleague, Rep. Athena Hollins, spoke about these disparities on Friday at a press conference. Please watch her speech here.
Minnesota Beyond Roe: The Leadership Agenda for Abortion Access
The press conference on Friday with UnRestrict Minnesota and the Reproductive Freedom Caucus was to announce “Minnesota Beyond Roe: The Leadership Agenda for Abortion Access.”
If you haven’t already heard, due to a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision, Doe v. Gomez, Minnesota is the only state in our region to have a built-in protection for reproductive rights.
“Our state constitution provides strong protections for our right to decide whether to continue or end a pregnancy, and to get an abortion if that is what we choose,” said Megan Peterson, Executive Director of Gender Justice. “Three-quarters of Minnesotans agree that when a person decides to have an abortion, it should be safe, legal, and free from punishment or judgment.”
Minnesota’s restrictions already make it difficult for many people to get care in Minnesota and disproportionately hurt the most marginalized in our community, including low-income people, BIPOC, people with disabilities, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, and individuals in rural areas. We need to expand access to abortion now. This agenda can do that.
The Leadership Agenda focuses on three main areas of action for Minnesota: repealing Minnesota’s unnecessary restrictions on abortion care, protecting patients and providers from post-Roe attacks, and ensuring equitable and affordable access to abortion care. This bold plan will need action from community partners, legislators, and all levels of government in Minnesota. I wholeheartedly support this agenda, and this will be a priority for our next legislative session.
The full Minnesota Beyond Roe: Leadership Agenda for Abortion Access can be found here.
Governor Walz Takes Executive Action to Protect Reproductive Health Care in Minnesota
It’s good to have a pro-choice governor. Governor Tim Walz took executive action last week to protect reproductive health care services in Minnesota. Executive Order 22-16 will help protect people seeking or providing abortions in Minnesota from laws in other states.
“My office has been and will continue to be a firewall against legislation that would reverse reproductive freedom,” said Governor Walz. “This order shows our administration’s commitment to protecting patients and health care providers. Our administration is doing everything we can to protect individuals’ right to make their own health care decisions.”
To the maximum extent permitted under the United States and Minnesota Constitutions and Minnesota law, the Governor will decline to honor requests to extradite individuals who are accused of committing acts related to reproductive health care that are not criminal offenses in Minnesota.
Executive Order 22-16 also orders state agencies to work to protect Minnesotans providing, seeking, or obtaining lawful reproductive health care services to the fullest extent of their lawful authority. Except when required to do so by law, state agencies must not assist other states in attempts to seek civil, criminal, or professional sanctions against anyone who provides, seeks, or obtains health care services that are legal in Minnesota.
Executive Order 22-16 is effective immediately.
Governor Walz Taps Federal Funds For Public Safety, Gun Violence Prevention
Governor Walz announced a plan this week to direct millions in federal funding toward public safety and gun violence prevention. The plan provides additional funding for police, the department of corrections, and gun safety. This is especially needed since Senate Republicans blocked urgent investments in public safety this year.
The request, allocating the remaining funds from the original $500 million in Minnesota’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding, will also support children and families with resources for child care, mental health, food support, education, and emergency shelters.
“Every child deserves to be safe and cared for in their schools, their communities, and their homes, which is why we are committed to preventing gun violence and improving public safety in every corner of the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. “Although our work is not done, these investments, along with funding to improve access to mental health resources, food security, and affordable child care, are going to make a big difference in a lot of Minnesotans’ lives.”
Breakdown of funding:
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan are also developing a statewide campaign to help prevent gun-related injuries and theft. In addition to a statewide education program helping Minnesotans learn how to safely store firearms, the Department of Public Safety will provide free cable gun locks across the state at community events, including the Minnesota State Fair.
Friendly note from MN DEED: The Workforce Strategy Consultant team will host a series of virtual meetings focused on highlighting proven strategies to build talent pipelines, hearing and sharing best practices, and networking with Minnesota employers about all things workforce.
Strategies for Upskilling & Training Your Workforce
Wednesday, July 6th
11am to 12pm
Join DEED's Workforce Strategy Consultants for an engaging discussion to learn about strategies for training and upskilling your workforce. Hear from a panel of employers and subject matter experts on promising practices and learn about state and regional supports. Please join prepared to share your experiences and ideas!
Though it feels like we “went back to normal” in terms of the pandemic, you should still get tested when necessary, and quarantine if you test positive. Those who are vaccinated are unlikely to have harsh symptoms, but it’s important that we try to be conscientious as many people still cannot be vaccinated.
Where to find COVID-19 testing
Minnesotans have many COVID-19 testing resources.
When to Get Tested
Minnesotans can find up-to-date guidance on when to get tested at MDH: COVID-19 Testing.
ICYMI: More Women of Color are Starting Businesses
I wanted to boost this episode of MPR News. It’s a great deep dive into the success of women in our community, despite systemic barriers. You can listen to the episode here.
40th Annual Hmong International Freedom Festival
Read this incredible article by your fellow constituent, Chai Lee, on this weekend’s Hmong International Freedom Festival. This year marks the 40th year the festival will be held at McMurray Fields at Como Regional Park in St. Paul. It also marks the festival’s return after being canceled the last two years due to COVID. The event will be held on July 2 and 3. Admission is $10.
Keep in Touch
Please continue reaching out at email@example.com, or simply reply to this email! I appreciate your attention to these legislative updates. Remember to take time to plug into the community this summer, like at the East Side Freedom Library. Have a good week.