There are now just over two weeks left in the legislative session for individual bills to be heard in committee. After that, larger spending and tax bills will begin to move through the House and Senate, and then to conference committee negotiations. Note that shortly after my last e-update, a new economic forecast was released which increased the forecasted budget surplus to more than $9 billion – an historic opportunity to invest for the long-term benefit of our state. Please join me on Saturday afternoon for a great chance to discuss all of this further.
Chat with Dave – Saturday at 2:00pm
One of my favorite ways to connect with constituents before the pandemic was the series of “Chats with Dave” at Highland Park Library. Starting this Saturday afternoon, the Chats are back on! Please join me from 2:00pm to 3:00pm for an informal conversation about the legislative session and the issues on your mind. Face masks are requested.
Supporting Workers and Our Economy
As the budget surplus suggests, our economy is recovering from the pandemic. But not every Minnesotan is benefiting. While profits for S&P 500 companies rose nearly 50 percent in 2021, many workers aren’t sharing in the growth they’re helping to create. In particular, the frontline workers who’ve kept our economy going – while facing increased risks of exposure to COVID-19 – deserve financial support. The House recently passed legislation that would deliver bonus checks to more than to 667,000 of these workers.
Instead of supporting these frontline workers, Senate Republicans want to spend more than $2.7 billion on the unemployment insurance trust fund. A deficit in the fund does needs to be addressed in order to avoid increased costs to small businesses. On the other hand, I’m less enthusiastic about using state tax dollars to buy down the UI rates of large out-of-state corporations like Amazon, which already receive significant subsidies. In any case, we should not fund these companies while leaving frontline workers on the sidelines.
Solar at Highland Bridge
Plans are currently underway to build the largest solar array in St. Paul on Area C, a former Ford Motor Company landfill along the Mississippi River. Solar power would be a terrific energy source for the Highland Bridge development, but we wouldn’t want a solar array to be a disincentive in case the toxic materials buried at the site need to be removed. I’m carrying a bill for "insurance" funding - so solar can go forward now and the removal of those materials can happen later if need be. Here’s a good summary of the situation in the Villager. The bill received a hearing last week; you can watch (starting at 1:06) here.
An Ethiopian Community Center
Our district - especially the Shepard-Davern area - is home to many Ethiopian Minnesotans. The community needs space to gather for celebrations, funerals, and cultural events; to host lessons for children; and more. I’ve authored a bill to create an Ethiopian Community Center that can serve as a home for community members in the Twin Cities and beyond. This bill also received a hearing last week; you can watch it (starting at 1:01) here.
Gun Safety in Our Neighborhoods
I was honored to rally outside the Capitol yesterday for Moms Demand Action Advocacy Day. As the longtime author of the bill for criminal background checks, I know there’s so much more that we could do to keep guns out of the hands of people who have shown themselves to be dangerous – but the Republican-controlled Senate blocked this work at every turn. I’m so grateful to the many volunteers who keep striving, with persistence and passion, for gun safety in St. Paul’s neighborhoods and in all neighborhoods.
Several Items on Early Childhood Policy
For those who especially follow my work as chair of the House Early Childhood Finance & Policy Committee, consider attending the upcoming virtual listening session on the work of the Great Start for All Minnesota Children Task Force, an initiative that I’ve been proud to champion. The session is on the evening of March 23; details here. Another opportunity is the next Prenatal to Three Policy Forum – the quarterly events which I founded – coming up on April 4; register via www.p3minnesota.org. And finally check out this recent article in the Star Tribune, as well as this terrific op-ed by Lori Sturdevant, on the urgent need to invest in early care and learning.
Please continue to keep in touch! Thank you for the honor of serving our community.
Dave Pinto State Representative, District 64B 503 State Office Building (651) 296-4199