The legislative session began this week. The 2016 session will be short - only ten weeks - with much to do. I'll do my best to keep you updated, but please feel free to reach out anytime with questions or thoughts. A reminder that tomorrow from 10:00-11:00am I will be at Highland Park Library to talk with constituents at our first ‘Chat with Dave’ of the 2016 session.
"Do Not Enter"
The session opened on Tuesday. The Capitol remains an active construction zone, but the House chamber was reopened for the ten weeks of the session. Unfortunately, as I pointed out in November, this decision by the majority will greatly limit public access to the House. Although only a few members of the public will be allowed in the building, you can still follow floor proceedings online here.
State of the State
On Wednesday, Governor Dayton gave the annual State of the State address. Among other things, the Governor emphasized fiscal stability, the elimination of racial disparities, and - of particular importance to me - strong support for the early development of children. Click here to read more on the Governor's priorities.
We learned recently that, due to national economic forces, our state budget surplus is projected to be significantly smaller than earlier believed, from $1.2 billion to $900 million. (Note that, as has been the case for state budgets since the early Pawlenty years, these projections take inflation into account on the revenue but not the expenditure side; the projected surplus would be much less otherwise.) As Governor Dayton emphasized in his State of the State address, this shows the need to be cautious with our state's fiscal long-term health.
House DFL Policy Initiatives
Last year, the Republican majority in the House prioritized corporate special interests, making their top initiative a massive tax giveaway that would largely go to large corporate holders of real estate. As a result, we saw little progress on key priorities to make our state work for everyone. In the weeks before the session began, my House DFL colleagues and I rolled out a series of policy initiatives, including:
- The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, a crucial step for improving the health and wellness of Minnesota children, families, and all of us;
- The DISCLOSE Act, which would allow voters to know who is spending money trying to influence elections, helping to get dark money out of politics;
- A plan to reduce the cost of prescription drugs by putting more power in the hands of Minnesota consumers.
- A series of bills dealing with student loan debt, for which Minnesota is fifth in the nation, with an average debt at graduation of $30,894.
The beginning of the session has been frustrating, but if we listen to Minnesotans and respond to the challenges that they face on a daily basis, we can create more opportunity for all of us. That should be our goal.
Thank you for the honor of serving our community,
State Representative, District 64B
321 State Office Building