Happy holidays! This is part 2 of my year-end report on my work as your representative. Please click here to read part 1, which was sent last Friday.
Leading for Progress
As I described last week, my top priority continues to be getting every child off to a great start in life. The best way to help young children to thrive is to help their families to do so – through policies like paid family and sick leave, affordable and stable housing, safe communities, and living-wage jobs. As an assistant leader in the House DFL caucus, I’m playing a key role in working to advance this progressive agenda – and to fight threats against it, such as a bill that would have blocked local governments from regulating workplace conditions for their residents.
One particular area where I’ve led is in efforts to prevent gun violence. On average, 80 Americans are killed every day by firearms – many times the rate of every other industrialized country. That’s 30,000 Americans per year, nearly 1,300 of them children. No one policy change would prevent every one of these deaths, but we could prevent some of them. I’m the House author of a number of leading bills in this area, including one to require a criminal background check on every sale and another authorizing “gun violence protective orders,” a court procedure similar to the one used in situations of domestic violence.
Combatting Gender Violence
I’m familiar with this court procedure because of my service outside of the Legislature as a prosecutor of gender violence – domestic and sexual assault. For several years, I directed statewide training and other changes to protect young people from sex trafficking and exploitation.
I’ve focused on gender violence issues as a legislator as well. In my first term, I had authored first-ever grants to support local investigations of sex trafficking. This funding has steadily increased and is now having a major impact throughout the state, and even nationally, as other states seek to copy Minnesota’s approach in this area.
I’m ashamed to say that even with this background, I did not realize the extent of the harassment experienced by women at the Legislature, and throughout society. One of the many antidotes for this abuse – and one of the ways to bring it to light – is to ensure that women have full and equal access to positions of power. I’m proud to serve in a DFL caucus which has an equal balance of women and men. Every one of us has the right to be treated as a full human being, working and living free from harassment, exploitation, and abuse. I will continue to work to ensure that our state honors that right.
Turning Energy Into Action
For many of us, this has been a year for turning energy into advocacy and action, for gender equity and for so many other causes. In January, I joined nearly 100,000 Minnesotans at the Women’s March at the State Capitol, to express our continued commitment to a society in which every person receives respect and has the opportunity to contribute and to thrive. I took the photo above of one of the many great signs at the March.
In April, my volunteer team organized an Advocacy Fair at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. Hundreds from throughout the metro learned about and signed up with more than 20 advocacy groups, from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Sierra Club. Two of my colleagues – Rep. Rena Moran and Sen. Foung Hawj – cohosted, and a number of other legislators attended as well.
Throughout the year, I’ve continued to organize Community Conversations – issue-focused town halls with experts on important topics like immigration and health care. One of these events was co-hosted by the Highland District Council and Councilmember Tolbert, and it featured presentations by city, county, state, and private agencies on projects in the Shepard-Davern area.
The organizing will continue in January, with three events in seven days, including the 2018 Advocacy Fair on January 21 and the next quarterly Prenatal to Three Policy Forum on January 23.
Our policymaking benefits when every Minnesotan is empowered to join in. Helping to facilitate that is a privilege.
Keeping in Touch
I value the chance to keep you informed and to hear your views. In addition to the other events discussed above, I hold monthly “Chats with Dave” – informal conversations with constituents – at Highland Park Library. You can get notice of them and keep in touch with all of my work by:
Two years ago, I wrote that the challenges that we face seemed ever deeper and more complex. Racial and gender equity, clean water and air, robust and broadly shared prosperity, and more.
These goals seem even more distant right now. But we’ve responded with an advocacy and determination that is inspiring. Together, we can build a state where every Minnesotan can contribute and every Minnesotan can thrive. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with and for you in 2018.
Wishing you and your family the very best this holiday season and throughout the new year,