I hope you’re having a good week. Last week, 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. If you had to work in person during the height of the pandemic, it’s likely that you qualify. Find more information here.
The deal also includes replenishing the Unemployment Insurance trust fund, protecting our small businesses from a massive tax increase as they are just getting back on their feet.
I’m the chief author of the proposal to get these bonuses to our workers. We couldn’t have gotten this done without our frontline workers showing up repeatedly to talk with legislators. Our House DFL has been operating with the mantra of “workers first.”
Last 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. You can find more details from Kare11’s news coverage here.
Support Ethnic Studies
The Education bill also included my proposal for Ethnic Studies. More than a third of students in Minnesota schools are students of color, but Minnesota classrooms have not kept pace with the growing diversity of our student population. This bill will incorporate ethnic studies into social studies graduation requirements, require the Department of Education to adopt ethnic studies standards, and establish a task force to advise the department on ethnic studies standards and curriculum. All students deserve to see themselves in their classrooms — their own cultures, communities, and histories — including in their curriculum.
Let's properly prepare our students to be part of a global society. Here is a video.
Public Safety Innovation
Last week we passed our bill to invest in safety and justice. The bill invests $200 million in proven, transformative, and innovative solutions that work to help Minnesota tackle some of the largest challenges to keeping people and communities safe. This bill also takes the necessary step of adequately funding our courts, public defenders, and civil legal services for the first time in decades with $140 million in new investments.
The bill invests in communities of color by establishing an Office for Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls, a Missing & Murdered Indigenous Relatives tip reward fund, and funding to create the Healing House, a space where Indigenous women involved in the justice system can receive trauma-informed support and get on the path to stability. Labor trafficking laws are also strengthened under the bill, as well as measures to improve the ability to hold people committing domestic violence accountable.
The budget also includes my Public Safety Innovation Act with $150 million worth of investments in expedited, data-driven strategies for communities to address increasing crime, hire additional personnel, and rebuild community trust. We’re not able to hire or arrest our way out of our public safety problems. We want to provide permanent funding for local communities to expand data-driven, transformational public safety work.
I wrote an op-ed in the StarTribune last week that reflects on the differences between our bill and the Senate proposal. Let me know what you think.
All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their communities. Here is a video.
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. You can find more details about the Housing bill from our non-partisan House news coverage here.
Free 2-Year College, Important Support for Students
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.
Support our Infrastructure, Ensure Equitable Transportation
We’ve put forward a balanced transportation bill that funds roads, bridges, and EV charging infrastructure; as well as improved customer service in Driver and Vehicle Services and a safer, more equitable 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.
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. 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.
Reproductive Rights in Minnesota
You’ve probably heard about the leaked Supreme Court decision from Monday night.
With this decision from SCOTUS, Minnesota could soon become the only state in the Upper Midwest where people can safely and legally access abortion care.
The decision overturns and questions not only Roe v. Wade, but also other precedents that over time have made our country a more just, inclusive, fair and welcoming nation to all people.
Abortion is preventive health. With extreme maternal mortality rates within some communities, forcing mothers to carry a fetus to term is unconscionable. Women deserve the freedom and power to control their own bodies and lives. This decision would especially affect people who already experience barriers to health care, like those with low incomes and who are disproportionately Black, Latino, Indigenous, and other communities of color.
Luckily, Minnesota is a unique state in that our Minnesota Supreme Court found that abortion is protected in our state constitution in 1995. While abortion is legal and protected in Minnesota, access to abortion care remains too restricted to accommodate everyone who may come to our state seeking an abortion. We will be doing everything we can to protect and expand reproductive rights.
Keep In Touch
Please reach out to me at email@example.com with any questions or concerns about legislative issues in the Minnesota House, I look forward to hearing from you!