Many thanks to all who joined us for the Senate District 64 Town Hall last weekend. Interacting with constituents is one of the best parts of my job. See below for another chance to do so soon, as well as the latest news from the Capitol.
Senate District 64 Luncheon - Monday, April 8
This year’s annual SD 64 luncheon will be on Monday, April 8, from 11:30am to 1:00pm, in the L’Etoile du Nord Vault in the basement of the Capitol. Please join Sen. Cohen, Rep. Her, and me for a conversation about the session.
Space is quite limited. RSVP as soon as possible to Sen. Cohen’s office at (651) 296-5931 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also order a $12 box lunch in advance (pastrami, corned beef, turkey, or veggie) or bring your own. Hope to see you there!
House & Senate Release Budget Framework
The primary work of this legislative session is to craft a two-year budget. On Monday, my House DFL colleagues and I announced budget targets for finance committees. They include significant increases in education, from early childhood through higher education, as well as significant investments to address economic security, environmental quality, and racial inequity. More details here. I also participated in the press conference with House leadership; you can watch my remarks here and the full press conference here.
House Early Childhood Committee Finalizes Budget
On Thursday evening, the House Early Childhood Finance & Policy Division, which I chair, finalized its budget work for the session. The budget parallels House File 1, the Great Start for All Minnesota Children, with funding for home visiting, early care & learning (through the child care assistance program, early learning scholarships, and voluntary pre-K), and grants for child care providers and professionals. In total, more than 8,000 young Minnesotans will receive increased support. More details are available here.
St. Paul College Savings Accounts
One of the highlights of our Early Childhood Committee budget is funding for St. Paul’s new College Savings Account program. Research shows that even an initial $50 in a bank account can help encourage a child’s success in academics and life. If successful, we hope that the program will eventually expand statewide. More details in this article.
Distracted Driving Prevention
Inattentive driving is a factor in one of five crashes in Minnesota, causing an average of 53 deaths and 216 serious injuries every year. Last week, the House approved legislation that would prohibit drivers from using cell phones other than in a hands-free mode (HF 50). Similar policies have successfully lowered accident and fatality rates in other states. I hope that the Senate will finally move on this proposal.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
The number of opioid-related deaths in Minnesota has risen every year since 2010. The opioid manufacturers and distributors who benefit from the epidemic should help share in the cost of addressing it. Last week, the House passed a bill that would invest in prevention, treatment, and recovery, funded by fees on large pharmaceutical manufacturers (HF 400). It’s time to hold these corporations accountable and take action to end the opioid crisis. Again, I hope that the Senate will act on this.
Protecting Minnesotans from Sexual Harassment
All Minnesotans deserve to live and work in an environment free from sexual harassment. However, more than 80 percent of women report being sexually harassed in the workplace, and current policies can discourage those who are experiencing harassment from seeking or receiving justice. Last week, the House approved a bill that would lower the current extremely high threshold for what constitutes sexual harassment under the law (HF 10). Again, we now await action on this in the Senate.
Please continue to keep in touch. Thank you for the honor of serving our community.
State Representative, District 64B
439 State Office Building
Subscribe to my email updates: www.house.leg.state.mn.us/64b
Follow my office on Facebook: facebook.com/repdavepinto