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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL)

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Legislative Weekly Recap - April 6-12, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dear neighbors,

We returned from the legislative break and House committees began to put together both policy omnibus bills and budget omnibus bills. Last Tuesday and Thursday were short floor sessions and Thursday night Governor Dayton delivered the State of the State address.

Friday, April 24 is the budget deadline. That means most omnibus finance bills need to be through the Ways & Means Committee in the House and the Finance Committee in the Senate. Once that happens, we will start taking floor votes on them. Then those bills will go to conference committees to iron out the differences before they go back to the full House and Senate for re-passage and then make their final stop on the Governor’s desk.

Bonding Bill

Governor Dayton released details of his $842 million bonding bill proposal this week. The proposal would help address many of the state’s critical infrastructure needs, while strengthening Minnesota’s economy and putting thousands of people to work.

Governor Dayton’s bonding bill includes investments that would benefit all Minnesota communities. It funds long-needed repairs on our college campuses, upgrades to wastewater infrastructure and repair of our historic state Capitol. In addition, flood mitigation and dam improvements and rail safety measures are all included in the bill. The proposal also funds improvements to several historical sites, drawing thousands of tourist dollars a year to Minnesota.

Interest rates are still historically low and our economy is improving. Now is the time to pass a comprehensive bonding bill. These construction projects will create thousands of jobs, continuing the forward movement of Minnesota’s economy. It’s unclear if Republicans, who control the Minnesota House, will present a bonding bill this session. While I am not sure that we need such a large bonding bill this year, I’m encouraging my GOP colleagues not to wait, and to take the opportunity to invest in our state’s future this session.

State of the State

Governor Dayton delivered his State of the State address on Thursday evening. The Governor talked about the progress that Minnesota has made in recent years, and thanked all Minnesotans for their hard work to keep Minnesota moving forward. With a $2 billion surplus, he challenged legislators to move forward with an agenda that looks to the future and sets Minnesota up for success in the long-term.

In particular, the Governor made a strong case for investing in education. Although we made considerable progress over the past two years, including all-day kindergarten and a tuition freeze for our college students, there are many kids – especially our youngest learners – who lack access to a quality education. With a budget surplus this year, there is no excuse to go backward on education.

You can watch a replay of Governor Dayton’s speech here.

Committee Work

Governmental Operations and Elections is meeting again next week to go over appointments to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board and conduct an informational hearing on a bill regarding Met Council’s MNThrive 2040 plan.

The Property Taxes & Local Government Committee heard 35 bills last week that ranged in topics from the state general property tax to local government aid. This week the chair of the committee, Rep. Steve Drazkowski, will be putting together the committee’s division report. I expect one or two committee hearings to be spent discussing and voting on the final proposal that will be sent to the full Tax Committee.

The Rules & Legislative Administration Committee I serve on will continue to meet both Tuesday and Thursday mornings to set what bills will be heard during floor sessions every day this week.

Meetings with Constituents

Though I spent most of the week in committees or on the floor, I did have a chance to meet with a small group representing the Minnesota Utility Investors.

Friday I was invited by Hopkins Police Chief Mike Reynolds to an annual breakfast put on by Corner House. It is an amazing organization that supports survivors of sexual abuse and also provides training to those who help investigate abuse and sex trafficking cases. We are very lucky to have an organization like this in the west metro.

On Friday I also had the opportunity to visit with teachers, administration and the Hopkins Legislative Action Coalition at North Junior High. I had a chance to tour Los Juntos, a fabulous program that brings together students who attend Spanish immersion schools (K-6) within our school district boundaries and students who are native speakers. Its goal is to continue to build toward a higher level of language immersion. We also visited the English Language Learner program.

On Saturday, I was invited to attend the St. Louis Park Sorenson Neighborhood Associations Annual Meeting. Thank you for the invitation and the great conversation! If any other neighborhood would like me to attend one of their meetings, please let me know.

Upcoming Community Events

The Southwest LRT Project is hosting open houses as an opportunity to learn about station design and to give feedback to project staff. Please consider attending one of the upcoming events in either Hopkins or St. Louis Park. For more information click here.

Hopkins & Minnetonka LRT Station Meetings

Where: Hopkins City Hall, 1010 First St. S., Hopkins

When: Tuesday, April 14 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Coffee & Conversation Meetings

Below is a listing of my upcoming “Coffee & Conversation” meetings. They are an open house format and community members are welcome to come, grab a cup of coffee, and have a quick conversation about issues important to them.

Where: St. Louis Park Byerly's, Community Room

When: April 14 (7:30-9:00 p.m.)

I hope that everyone had a chance to get out and enjoy the weather!

Cheryl Youakim

State Representative (46B)