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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL)

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Legislative Update: January 29, 2021

Friday, January 29, 2021
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Dear Neighbors,

This week, I had the honor to introduce two new bills. I look forward to providing updates as we work to pass and forward them to the Senate. Your questions and concerns are welcome as you keep up with these two legislation!

Rejecting Military Models In Peace Execution

Bill HF 487 will prohibit local law enforcement from accepting military-grade equipment from the federal government. This is an important first step to move us away from a military model for our peace officers. This is a bill that is being sponsored by Sen. Marty on the senate side. It prohibits local and municipal law enforcement agencies from acquiring military grade weapons from Pentagon’s 1033 program. The 1033 program began in 1997 and allows the Department of Defense to get rid of excess equipment by passing it off to local authorities, who only have to pay for the cost of shipping. A lot of the equipment local law enforcement get are very standard- clothing, tools, radio, etc. That’s why this bill was specifically targeting military-grade equipment, items like rifles, armored vehicles and grenade launchers.

The militarization of our police has been going for far too long. Sending a heavily armed team of officers to perform “normal” police work can dangerously escalate situations that do not need to involve violence, and the use of military equipment is too often paralleled by a corresponding change in attitude whereby police conceive of themselves as “at war” with communities rather than as public servants concerned with keeping their communities safe. This law would be an important first step in moving our police forces back to being “peace officers” rather than at war with the community.

Extended Equity Stripping Protections

The second bill, HF 418, aims to increase protections around equity stripping for people who are facing foreclosures or are overdue on their property tax. Equity stripping is a scam where a “real estate investor” offer the desperate homeowner a "miracle refinancing" and/or say they can "save the home" from foreclosure.They buy the home, and then rent the property back to the prior owner, often at a much higher rate than the original mortgage.

The original equity stripping bill didn’t cover individuals who owed back taxes; this new bill makes sure that even those with tax debt are protected from equity stripping. This is an especially important bill, because we know that many folks during the COVID-19 pandemic have struggled to stay on top of their mortgage and/or property tax payments.  

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Criminal Justice Panel: Tuesday, February 9, 2021

During Black History Month, Attorney General Ellison is hosting listening sessions focused on issues most pressing to Black Minnesotans. Join AG Ellison, Rep. Frazier, and I to discuss the issue of criminal justice.

The event will be broadcast on AG Ellison's Facebook. Comment with your questions during the listening session.

Additionally, to keep up with the conversation around racial justice legislation, you can read the recently published racial justice report by the House Select Committee on Racial Justice to the House legislature.

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Protecting Our Essential And Healthcare Workers

Last week, we announced the DFL House priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session, which included an initiative to protect our workers. With a vision to better work conditions for Minnesota and provide care to those who care for our community, we must work to further the Essential Workers Emergency Leave Act (House File 41), introduced by Rep. Cedrick Frazier, which aims to provide emergency paid leave for the frontline and essential workers who do not have access to the COVID-related leave provisions passed by the federal government earlier in the pandemic. This bill would provide 100 hours of emergency paid leave to workers considered to be full-time by their employer, preventing working families from being forced to use their paid time off, sick days or going without pay for shifts missed.

Emergency leave for essential workers is necessary to ensure all community members are able to protect their own health and families , pay their bills, and slow down the spread of COVID-19, without the risk of losing their jobs. Not all Minnesotans are afforded the privilege of logging-in from home. 

2021 legislative session priorities for Minnesota workers.

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Strong Democracy Powered By Minnesotans

Last week, my colleagues and I voted in support of House File 9, chief authored by fellow first-term legislator, Representative Greenman, aiming to build a strong, inclusive democracy that will:

  • Prohibit intimidating and harassing voters or elections officials and using deceptive practices to disenfranchise voters.
  • Ensure state and local elections officials can access the critical federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds they need for election security and infrastructure.
  • Establish automatic voter registration, allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, and restores the right to vote for Minnesotans who are on probation or parole.
  • Takes steps to increase transparency and unveil who is spending money to influence our elections,modernizes the Political Contribution Refund (PCR) program, replacing it with Democracy Dollars coupons that are available to all registered Minnesota voters.
  • Improve Minnesota’s redistricting process. It sets fair criteria for lawmakers to follow when drawing and evaluating maps and creates a public process to solicit Minnesotans’ input, make redistricting data available to the public, and provide advance notice of maps and hearings.

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Condemning Violence In Our Free And Fair Elections

In addition to taking measures to reform free and fair elections, the Minnesota House of Representative joined together and passed House Resolution 1, a resolution condemning violence and violent rhetoric directed at the United States Capitol and state capitols, and affirming support for democracy, rule of law, and the certified results of our election. The resolution passed on a vote of 111-8.

Now is the time to stand up to rhetoric that threatens the stability of our democracy and casts baseless doubt on the legitimacy of our elections. 

Due North Education Plan

Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced the Due North Education Plan, a sweeping agenda for the future of education in Minnesota. Developed from a robust engagement effort with educators, school leaders, students, and families across the state, the Due North Education Plan is centered on ensuring every child in Minnesota receives a high-quality education, no matter their race or zip code. You can watch the announcement on the Governor’s YouTube page.

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On Governor Walz's COVID-19 Recovery Budget

Minnesotans across the state were hit by this unfortunate pandemic in different ways, and as lawmakers, it is our job to support our workforce, students and small businesses to emerge from this crisis stronger than they were before. 

I look forward to partnering with Governor Walz to introduce legislation that will confront the challenges faced by Minnesotans and invest in the future of our state.

Read more about the budget details here. 

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First Virtual Town Hall: Watch!

On Saturday, January 23rd, at 10 A.M., Senator John Marty, Representative Alice Hausman and I will joined together for a virtual town hall and talked about issues important to District 66.

If you missed the event, you can watch a recorded version here, and feel free to reach out to me with any further questions.

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Get Involved and Stay In Touch

Public hearings are a great opportunity to learn and participate in the legislative process. All of them are live streamed on one of the House webcast channels, and you can view the agenda and materials that legislators receive on each committee’s webpage. If you can’t catch a hearing live, they’re usually uploaded to House Public Information Service’s YouTube channel later that day. I encourage you to check out the hearing schedule and get involved!  

For any questions you have on the resources available to our community or our work in the Minnesota House, please feel free to contact my legislative assistant Sonia Romero at sonia.romero@house.mn or 651-296-4307. 

In Solidarity, 

 

Athena Hollins

Minnesota State Representative (House District 66B)

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