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Bill proposes a greater say in state government for MN youth

Ensuring youth voices are heard is the goal of a state government-related bill being put forth by an education committee chair.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls), HF3853 would establish the Minnesota Youth Advisory Council “to provide a voice to Minnesota's youth community in policy development and decision making on issues that impact the community.”

In current statute is the Minnesota Youth Council which functions similar to the state-operated three ethnic councils that advise the legislative and executive branches of their community concerns. However, the youth council is operated by a nonprofit and did not receive state support until this biennium.

“(This bill) is not only necessary for our future success, but it gives power to the voices of the youth in Minnesota to a level not seen before,” said Eagan High School junior Eric Li.

Staffing needs would be provided by the state, as is done for the ethnic councils. A fiscal note has been requested.

The bill was held over Friday by the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee for possible omnibus bill inclusion. It has no Senate companion.

Rosa Tock, executive director of the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs, wrote in support of the proposal.

“When up and running, it can reflect the ideals and aspirations of an often neglected segment of the population that will soon be replacing a retiring labor force in every economic sector of the state. Having an institution that dedicates its efforts to promote civic engagement and empowers the voices of those who will one day make critical decisions will serve the state well.”

The 28-member group would be comprised of three members from each Congressional district — two in grades 8-12 and one age 19-23 — and four legislators.

Among its duties, the council would:

  • work for implementation of youth economic, social, legal and political equality;
  • advise the governor and the Legislature on issues confronting Minnesota youth;
  • work with legislators to develop and pass legislation to address these issues; and
  • serve as a liaison between state government and youth organizations.

An annual report would be due the Legislature each year.

“This bill would not only help youth be heard, but would help us make change throughout Minnesota,” said Sage Hartman, a sophomore at Wayzata High School.

Davnie, who chairs the House Education Finance Committee, sees it as a two-way street.

“This proposal provides a structure where we can access those insights and that leadership to better do our job.”

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