Thanks to the many constituents who have written to me recently about state and federal policies. I share your outrage at the actions of the Trump administration and the divisive and harmful policies being pushed by the Republican majority in our Legislature. Please know that I'm working with colleagues, even while we're in the minority, to combat them.
Many constituents have asked for suggestions on what they can do as individuals to help. I'm continuing to work with colleagues and organizations on concrete steps, but in the meantime here are three general ideas:
1. Connect with an advocacy group: As we saw at the Women's March, we're stronger when we work together. Identify a cause that you're particularly concerned about and join with others to advocate on it. Climate change? Immigrant rights? Gun violence? Child welfare? There are plenty of terrific groups working in all of these areas and more. Contact my office if you want a particular suggestion to match your interests.
2. Look to friends & family statewide: Elected officials are influenced by their constituents. Encourage friends and family from throughout the state to advocate with (and keep a close eye on) their own legislators, for the issues they care about. Find out who represents them by accessing the legislative district-finder.
3. Contribute to just causes: Consider a financial contribution to a group working in support of your values. One concrete suggestion in our community: The Francis Basket Food Market, a food shelf at Sibley Manor (off W. 7th) that is used by many immigrants. On a recent visit, a Somali-American woman told me of her fears because of national policies, and how much she appreciated my reassurance that she is welcome in our state. Contributions to the food shelf go straight to feed hungry people - a concrete action for good in these troubling times.
"Chat with Dave" Tomorrow
One good opportunity to connect will come at tomorrow morning's "Chat with Dave." Hope to see you for an informal conversation about the session and legislative priorities for you and your family.
When: 10:00-11:00 am Saturday, February 4
Where: Edgecumbe Recreation Center, 320 Griggs St. S.
"Preemption" of Local Steps to Protect Workers
For several years now, the House Republican majority has blocked attempts to advance a set of employment policies - paid family leave, paid sick & safe time, and more - which would help families and benefit our economy and quality of life. In response to this refusal at the state level, cities like St. Paul have been passing such policies at the local level. Last night, Republicans advanced a bill in committee to attack even these local attempts to protect worker rights. The "preemption" bill would prevent communities from adopting local labor policies such as paid leave or a minimum wage. It would block the progress we've made to raise wages and expand benefits to hardworking Minnesotans.
It's better for all of us if people who are sick stay home from work. The parents of a newborn should be able to stay home from work. People who work full-time should be able to support themselves. If state policy doesn't yet reflect these principles, our city policy should be allowed to do so. My DFL colleagues & I will continue to fight this bill.
Youth Opportunities with Conservation Corps
This year the Conservation Corps will hire over 700 young people (aged 15-26) assisting in restoring natural resources, removing invasive species, and many other projects to help keep Minnesota beautiful. There are both summer and full-term (Feb to Dec) positions all over the state, with the deadline for some as soon as February 15. If you know a young person for whom this would be a good fit, send her or him to www.conservationcorps.org/apply or call (651) 209-9900.
Thank you for the honor of serving our community,
Dave Pinto State Representative, District 64B
321 State Office Building