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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL)

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Legislative Update - July 21, 2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dear Friends,

I hope the summer has been treating you well and you’re keeping cool these last couple days.

The last few weeks have been heartbreaking for our country, our state and many of our friends around the world. It seems like every day we hear more bad news. While I have a heavy heart each time I hear of tragedies and deaths, I’m heartened by the responses I’ve seen where we come together to peacefully share our sadness and anger. I’m committed to continuing to make sure peace prevails and everyone is given the opportunity to succeed they deserve. It’s by coming together and demanding action that we will continue to make progress on the issues important to our community and our state.

It’s been a few days since my last update, and a lot has been happening around the Capitol. Here is some information I would like to share with you about that:

Special Session Possible

The legislature adjourned nearly two months ago without final action on important legislation for Minnesota families. As you may recall, both the bonding bill and tax bill that passed the House on the final moments of session had significant errors and did not become law. These bills need to be fixed and passed because they’re important to our district. As an example, I worked tirelessly to secure $65 million for the Health Sciences addition at the U of M that won’t become law without them.

It’s my hope that legislators from both parties can come together in a Special Session to resolve our unfinished work in a way that best serves the people of Minnesota. That means fixing the tax bill so we can help hardworking Minnesotans, passing a bonding bill that includes vital improvement projects across the state, and addressing our long-term transportation needs.

To that end, Governor Dayton and legislative leaders met last week to re-start negotiations. Although no compromise was reached, all sides have agreed to continue working toward a potential special session. The leaders also pledged to hold public hearings as we move forward on outstanding legislative issues. This is important. One of the reasons we are in this unfortunate situation is that during the regular session too much was happening behind closed doors without public input. We must not repeat that mistake during a special session.

I am hopeful that in the coming weeks we can reach a compromise and get the work of the people finished.

State Budget

Good news came earlier last week from Minnesota Management and Budget. Fiscal Year 2016 concluded on June 30, and revenues exceeded the amount from the February budget forecast by $230 million. While economic growth has slowed a bit, our economy is still in a solid position, and hopefully we will be entering the 2017 session with another sizable budget surplus.

This means that with economic uncertainty we need to fiscally judicious, but we should be using this situation as an opportunity to make key investments in the things that help out all Minnesotans, such as education, job creation, and transportation. I look forward to more discussions about this as we approach January.

New Laws: Body Cams, Disparities, and Sentencing Reform

July 1 is the start of Minnesota’s Fiscal Year. As a result, many state programs will receive continued funding or increases for vital state services. August 1st is the day many new policy provisions become law.

One of those laws was the police body cam bill that I fought against every step of the way. I was one of only 12 legislators to vote each and every time for increased police accountability, but in the end we didn’t prevail. I’m hopeful we can fix that and bring much needed reforms to our state, as we did with a boost in funding by $35 million to end racial disparities and the sentencing reforms we passed that eliminated most mandatory minimums and will allow 700 more nonviolent drug offenders to return to their community rather than sit in jail. These are positive steps, but much more needs to be done.

A summary of selected new laws that took effect July 1, 2016, can be accessed at

A complete summary of all laws passed by the 2016 Legislature is available online from the House Public Information Services Office at

Last Update

This will be my last update until after the November elections. There is a state law that prohibits a legislator from using state resources to proactively send out information to constituents. I still, however, can respond to e-mails, letters or phone calls sent to me by constituents. I can also attend any community events or meet with you if you’re interested.

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So please, don’t hesitate to contact me with any issues, questions, concerns or events. I look forward to visiting with you in the coming months.

It’s a great pleasure to be your voice at the Capitol.


Rep. Phyllis Kahn