This week is the fourth of the eleven-week legislative session, and it's been slow going so far. Last Thursday, House Republicans finally allowed a clean vote extending unemployment benefits to thousands of laid-off Iron Range workers. (Earlier, and contrary to pre-session promises, the majority had insisted that the extension be conditioned on corporate tax cuts.) If helping out an area of the state experiencing economic distress is this difficult, it's a bad sign for the remainder of the session. Nevertheless, my DFL colleagues and I will continue to push to pass good policies; with so many challenges before us, our state can't afford not to make progress this session.
‘Pre to Three’ Package from House DFL
From the beginning, my chief legislative goal has been to make sure that every child gets off to a great start in life. Given time, every other challenge that we face can be met if we get this one right. Last week, I was thrilled to join my DFL colleagues in releasing a package of proposals for "Prenatal to Three" intended to meet this goal. These proposals include paid family leave and greater support for Early Head Start, along with many others.
My own part of the package focuses on the beginning of "Pre to Three" - pregnancy and birth. The disparities that we see in education, employment, criminal justice, and so much more are paralleled by disparities in prenatal care. Women of color and low-income women receive no or inadequate prenatal care significantly more often than other Minnesota women. One of my bills, House File 3177, would require the Minnesota Department of Health, in partnership with community organizations, to study these disparities, and make recommendations for closing them. Another bill, House File 3236, would provide safe-sleep boxes and supplies to highly-at-risk new parents.
Though progress this session will be difficult - see the introduction above - I've worked to secure bipartisan support for both bills and will push hard to move them and other early childhood initiatives forward.
In the meantime, I remain mindful that the best way to support young children is to support their families, through jobs that can support a family, affordable housing, clean water & air, fair taxation, and much more.
Don’t Forgot Your Property Tax Refund or Renter’s Credit
As a friendly reminder, don’t forget to file for your Renter’s Property Tax or Homestead Credit Refund. To see if you qualify, take a look at the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s Instruction Guide. The forms can be accessed here.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue also has information available on filing for free on their website. If you want to file yourself and wonder if you qualify for free electronic filing products or you want assistance from a free tax preparation site, visit this page.
Additionally, the IRS has free filing information available on their website. On the homepage of their website under the banner “Hot Topics” you will see a link entitled “Get Free Tax Preparation Help” or “Free File Tax Software”.
Constituent Luncheon Follow-up
Many thanks to the more than 130 (!) constituents who joined Sen. Cohen, Rep. Murphy, and me for last week's constituent luncheon. It was a great conversation.
I'll try to keep you updated as the session continues. Feel free to reach out with questions or concerns in the meantime. And thank you so much for the honor of serving our community.
State Representative, District 64B
321 State Office Building