I hope you and your loved ones had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July weekend!
The Minnesota House and Senate finished passing a state budget last week. The new, two-year budget will help Minnesotans recover from challenges they’ve faced over the past year and thrive once the pandemic is behind us. While there are many areas where we can do more, I’m proud of the bipartisan budget we approved and the work we did with Minnesotans this session.
If you’d like to discuss what we accomplished this session and start planning for the future, I invite you to join Rep. Sandra Masin, Sen. Jim Carlson, and me at our next virtual town hall. We’re meeting via Facebook Live on Thursday, July 15 from 6 to 7 p.m. If you have any questions or issues you’d like us to address, please share them here. We look forward to seeing you!
My colleagues and I worked hard to make the new state budget as strong and as equitable as possible. The compromise budget we developed with Senate Republicans doesn’t include everything we would’ve liked, but it’s still a significant step forward. These are some of the highlights:
I’ll provide more in-depth information about a few areas of the budget below. If you’d like to read more, the following links will direct you to nonpartisan summaries House Public Information Services wrote for each budget bill: Legacy; Agriculture and Broadband; Higher Education; Commerce, Climate, and Energy; Transportation; Housing; Environment and Natural Resources; Jobs and Labor; E-12 Education; Health and Human Services; Public Safety and Judiciary; State Government, Elections, and Veterans; and Taxes.
House DFLers, led by members of the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus, advocated for meaningful police reform and accountability this session. Senate Republicans blocked a number of the provisions we approved, but we were able to make some important changes. For example, we secured new regulations on no-knock warrants, established an early warning system to keep problem officers off the streets, and enabled trained crisis teams to respond to calls for mental health assistance instead of police officers alone. We also expanded the use of “sign and release” warrants to prevent unnecessary interactions between Minnesotans and law enforcement and delivered funding for community organizations working to prevent violence and perform youth outreach.
One of the bills I introduced (HF 2010) was included in the Public Safety and Judiciary budget. It strengthens the Minnesota Human Rights Act by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for job applicants and workers with disabilities.
We can and must do more in this area. I’m committed to making sure that everyone – including Black, Brown, and Indigenous Minnesotans – feels safe and respected in their home, school, workplace, and community.
COVID-19 highlighted how important it is to have high-quality health care that you can afford to use. This session, I worked with fellow members of the Health Finance and Policy Committee to improve our health care system and expand access to care. The Health and Human Services budget we passed improves Minnesota’s public health infrastructure, strengthens mental and behavioral health services, and invests in expanding access to affordable child care. It contains several measures to reduce racial disparities as well. One notable example is a series of bills that addresses persistent inequalities in maternal and infant health.
In addition, we took several steps to make sure that everyone – especially children and young adults – can get the dental care they need. Many Minnesotans don’t have adequate access to dental care because there aren’t enough dentists who accept public insurance like Medicaid. We increased reimbursement rates significantly so more providers can start accepting low-income patients or increase the number of patients they’re able to take. The dental reform proposal I championed (HF 1918) was signed into law as well. It kickstarts the development of dental home programs that serve Minnesotans regardless of their insurance status. These programs are often intentionally located in convenient places like schools, Head Start centers, and WIC clinics. I look forward to seeing the results of this investment.
All Minnesotans deserve to have safe, secure, and affordable housing. As a member of both the Housing Finance and Policy Committee and the Preventing Homelessness Division, I worked hard to find solutions to our state’s housing crisis. One of my top priorities was providing more services and support for Minnesotans who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. I voted to invest in county-level efforts to prevent family homelessness and increase funding for emergency shelters and services throughout Minnesota.
Many individuals and families who were impacted by COVID-19 struggled to make rent and mortgage payments. To support them, I helped ensure tenants and landlords would have more than three months before the eviction moratorium ends to access assistance through RentHelpMN. This “off-ramp” also protects people with outstanding applications from eviction.
I’m looking forward to spending more time in our community now that our work at the Capitol is complete. Please stay tuned for more opportunities to connect with me and continue sharing your questions, ideas, and feedback. You can reach me by email at email@example.com or by phone at (651) 296-4128.