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April 22: Public Safety, Budget Bills

Thursday, April 22, 2021

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Dear Neighbors, 

While Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict this week brought a hopeful glimpse of accountability to the start of community healing, we need to recognize that there is much more work to do to deliver preventative racial justice. The systemic flaws targeting Black folks in Minnesota requires effective policy and our job is to create solutions rooted in trust, transparency, and public safety for every member of the community. 

Last night, the Minnesota House of Representatives advanced a budget bill to increase accountability measures within law enforcement, expand survivor protections and increase community oversight over the safety of our state. This omnibus bill is a compilation of a number of bills, shown below, brought forth by legislators covering a broad range of public safety needs.

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Northern Metals Fire

Early Wednesday afternoon, a fire broke out at the site of the Northern Metals recycling facility in North Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Fire Department is currently working to extinguish the fire, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is also on site.

We are closely monitoring the ongoing situation along with city officials and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). This is now the third fire at a Northern Metals site in the last five years and they have a history of violations at this site that caused the state to order them to cease shredding operations. Due to that history, we are going to take every precaution necessary to protect our community. 

We are strongly committed to environmental justice. This area has some of the highest asthma rates in the state and we do not think our community members should have to endure any more air and noise pollution from this site. We will be following up with the MPCA to ensure the site is operating legally and the air quality in our area is safe. We will share more information with our neighbors as it becomes available.

A Letter to Governor Tim Walz: Operation Safety Net

This week, the Minneapolis Legislative Delegation joined together to write a letter addressed to Governor Tim Walz to call for a more just and peaceful approach to the rising tensions in Minneapolis, specifically around Operation Safety Net. The City of Minneapolis is in charge of the operation, and has informed us they are wrapping up activities in the area. You can read the full statement here

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Budget Bills Advanced Through the Minnesota House

In this phase of session, we move a majority of our work to the House floor. The bills moving through the legislative process have moved through different committees and been finalized to be debated on the House floor. This week, I was proud to vote yes on several crucial budget bills to support all Minnesotans across the state. 

Housing

Having a safe and secure place to call home is critical for Minnesotans’ health, economic security, and opportunities for achievement. Stable housing is the foundation for success. Our Housing budget will produce more affordable housing in Minnesota as well as ensure Minnesotans have access to safe and stable housing. A copy of the legislation can be reviewed here. The bill includes a number provisions to:

  • Fund the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) for specific programs;
  • Establish the lead safe homes grant program;
  • Create a task force on shelter resident rights and shelter provider practices;
  • Deliver investments in various affordable housing related programs;
  • Enact provisions related to the Minnesota Bond Allocation Act, residential rental housing/landlord and tenant law, and manufactured housing.

Education

On Monday, we passed the Omnibus Higher Education Finance and Policy Bill, on a vote of 74-59. The legislation continues the House DFL’s commitment to students by proposing strong ongoing investments to Minnesota’s public colleges and universities. The higher education budget holds tuition flat at Minnesota State and increases funding to the State Grant Program, impacting over 75,000 students and expanding access to over 3,000 grant applicants. 

Transportation

Many of our bridges across the state are at risk of deterioration, including the Third Street/Kellogg Bridge, which is near collapse. It’s our job to make sure our roads and bridges are safe and efficient. The transportation budget would make direct investments in transportation to address the long-term safety risk posed by our aging roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure. The bill helps Minnesota grow our multimodal transportation system to help people get where they need to go no matter where they live, with investments in including pedestrian and bike infrastructure, transit investments in both the metro and greater Minnesota, road safety improvements, rail projects, and more.

Labor, Industry, Workforce, and Business Development

The bill helps families, workers, and small businesses emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes critical investments and protections for Minnesotans’ economic security, like Earned Sick & Safe Time and Paid Family & Medical Leave. The bill passed on a vote of 69-64.

Energy and Commerce

The Energy and Commerce budget bill is another comprehensive bill passed through the Minnesota House this week on a vote of 70-64. The Climate and Energy portion of the budget puts Minnesota on a path to achieve 100 percent clean energy in the electricity sector by 2040. It improves energy efficiency goals, strengthens the renewable energy preference, and updates state emissions targets to align with the latest scientific projections. The budget takes steps to ensure the transition to clean energy is just and equitable and that people and communities who are disproportionately impacted by climate change can access jobs and other benefits during this transition. Finally, the Commerce portion of the energy budget contains several strong consumer protection provisions for Minnesotans, by establishing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to help drive down prices, halt the rising cases of catalytic converter theft by creating a statewide catalytic converter theft prevention pilot program, and ensuring strict guardrails are in place that make it more difficult for bad actors to make a quick profit by price gouging. This budget bill takes important, proactive steps to protect Minnesota consumers from bad actors looking to take advantage of folks already enduring financial hardship during the ongoing pandemic.

Mental Health and Community Healing Resources

Our community has experienced an overwhelming amount of pain this year, and the ongoing Trial of Derek Chauvin has left many of us looking for mental health resources. The City of Minneapolis has compiled this list to find free and local support for you and your loved ones.


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This week, we lost a leader to Minnesota, a leader to the world. Throughout his service, Walter Mondale paved a path for women across the country to shatter new glass ceilings in every sector.  When I was first elected, Vice President Mondale generously volunteered his time to meet with me and advised me to be true to my values, and work hard to build coalitions that would make a difference in my community. 


At this point in our legislative session, bills change and move rapidly. Community safety must be the legislature’s priority above all other budget negotiations. Please always feel free to reach out to me with your ideas or anything you might need.

It is my job to serve you.

Sincerely,

Sydney Jordan

State Representative

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