The House has now passed all of our major budget bills, and now we move on to conference committees with the Senate. This could be an extremely exhausting process, due to the major differences we have on how to spend the surplus. Here’s some good coverage of the differences that we have to work on.
Bipartisan Budget Framework Announced
All Minnesotans deserve economic security, but far too many are struggling to make ends meet due to rising costs. In an economy that’s tilted in favor of the ultra-wealthy, Minnesota must do more to help workers and families. That’s why lawmakers have agreed to a bipartisan budget framework that will invest in people and communities; cut taxes for workers and families; and put away savings so we don’t have to drastically cut funding for public schools and health care when there’s a recession. This budget framework does not include everything we’ve fought for, specifically lacking in Housing investment that Republican leadership wouldn’t let through, but it is another step toward building a better state.
More details in the MN Reformer report here.
Investing in Clean Energy and Solutions to Climate Change
Scientists are telling us the window to address climate change is closing. Minnesotans are urging lawmakers to act. House DFLers are listening. In response, we passed an ambitious Climate and Energy budget earlier this month.
This bill will move us forward on clean energy. It invests in several renewable energy initiatives, creates a program to help local governments purchase and install solar panels on public buildings, and funds research and development of clean energy technology. It also invests in new technology that will ensure that clean energy is the most affordable energy out there.
We need to take action to preserve the climate for the next generation.
Ensuring Everyone’s Safety
All Minnesotans deserve to be safe, no matter where they live or what they look like. Access to justice is the right of every single person. We’ve worked hard to put together a bill that reduces crime, supports law enforcement, and ensures that the system works for everyone.
Our Public Safety Committee has put together a package that 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 prevent 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.
Part of the package also ensures every single officer has a body camera. Measures like this are essential to gaining back the community’s trust.
I’m honored to be sitting as a member of the Public Safety Conference Committee, where we’re hashing out our differences with the Senate’s bill. So far, the only agreement that we’ve reached is on an anti-car theft proposal, supporting law enforcement to use mobile tracking on motor vehicles that are reported as stolen. This will lead to less high-speed chases, and we followed the advice of the ACLU on how to protect privacy while allowing the police to use this data.
This conversation is also happening after a tumultuous month of public safety news, including a non-partisan human rights investigation coming up with appalling evidence of racism within the Minneapolis Police Department. Here’s the POCI Caucus Statement on the matter.
The Minnesota Human Rights Department Moves on MPD
Tuesday, the Minnesota House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee met jointly with the House Judiciary and Civil Law Committee to review the Minnesota Department of Human Rights’ findings following that investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. The investigation – ordered after the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020 – concluded there is probable cause that MPD have engaged in a pattern or practice of race discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human rights act.
Public safety should be for everyone. Shockingly, many are not surprised by the findings outlined by Commissioner Lucero. Accountability measures have to be put in place. We need state oversight when local oversight fails. I’m glad to see MDHR continuing to move forward as a consent decree is being negotiated. Gov. Walz has appointed a strong leader in Commissioner Lucero, and we need strong leadership during this moment of reckoning. We have to take action to ensure abuses and human rights violations like those outlined in these findings by MDHR are never repeated in any community in our state.
If you would like to watch the hearing, you can find it here.
Helping Those Who Need It Most
This year Democrats in the House are proposing significant financial assistance to help reduce rising costs. We are especially concerned about the impact of out-of-control child care costs on family budgets, with some families paying as much or more than their monthly mortgage payments. That’s why we’re providing tax credits for families who cannot afford these rising costs.
The House Tax bill would reduce the cost of housing by making the biggest investment in property tax refunds and renter’s credits in decades. Democrats’ proposal expands eligibility and benefits, and makes it easier for filers to apply. As a result, more than 150,000 additional renters will qualify, with an average benefit of $700. Statewide, 30% of renter’s credit recipients are seniors or people with disabilities. In addition, more than 1.3 million homesteads that currently qualify for the market value exclusion will see an increased exclusion.
Most people will have more money in their pockets with this DFL bill. This is in contrast to the Senate plan, which provides permanent tax cuts that largely only benefit the wealthy and corporations. They’re also wanting to cut taxes in the name of “fairness” while drastically shorting our state Education budget. I’ve heard that this isn’t what our district wants, and I’m here to help those who need it.
House passed Sports Betting, ball now goes to the Senate
In 2018, the United States Supreme Court ended the federal ban on states legalizing sports betting. Since then, 30 states, including every state bordering Minnesota, have legalized the practice.
Minnesotans have been waiting a long time for the opportunity to engage in fair sports betting. House DFLers have listened to and consulted with our sovereign tribal nations and stakeholders to ensure the best outcome for Minnesotans. Our bill is a step in the right direction to ensure consumer protection while engaging in sports betting.
Among other provisions, the bill:
The bill passed the House with bipartisan support.
Updating Minnesota’s Liquor Laws
Last Wednesday, the Minnesota House approved a bill with a series of reforms to modernize the state’s liquor laws.
Our state benefits from our thriving local breweries and distilleries. I’m glad that we could pass this bill that lifts outdated regulations that get in the way. I’ve heard from many brewery employees in my district - I needed to vote to pass this bill for them.
Under the bill, small breweries will be able to sell more products directly to consumers, including six and four-packs of beer. You’ll be able to go home with the awesome beer you tried at the brewery. The bill allows micro-distilleries to sell spirits in larger 750ml quantities and allows more distilleries to operate cocktail rooms. Currently, breweries including Castle Danger, Surly, Summit, Schell’s, and Fulton are prohibited from selling growlers to-go from their taprooms because they produce more than 20,000 barrels annually. The legislation increases this cap to 150,000.
The bill now returns to the Senate, where Senators will either adopt the House’s version or appoint a conference committee charged with reaching an agreement on each chamber’s differences.
The Energy Assistance Program can help with energy and water bills
The Minnesota Commerce Department encourages households struggling with energy bills to apply for the Energy Assistance Program, with up to $2,000 available to eligible households. In addition, as part of the Federal relief funding, there is help for households to pay past-due water bills.
Households can apply for help with both energy and water bills through the Energy Assistance application. For more information and to find your local service provider, go to the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program webpage. You can also call 1-800-657-3710 for more information.
Keep in Touch
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Thank you for the honor of representing you at the Capitol.