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

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Legislative Update - March 7, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016

Hello Everyone,

The legislative session begins tomorrow, March 8 at noon. It will be a whirl-wind session just shy of eleven weeks. The first deadline for policy bills has already been set for April 1. That means a policy bill needs to be through all of its committee hearings in either the House or the Senate in just three weeks. Can you say "ready, set, go"!

I wanted to give you an update about access to the Capitol building during session this year. Due to construction, there will be no public access to the rotunda and VERY limited access to watch session in person. There will be less than 50 tickets on a first-come first-serve basis available at the Capitol Security kiosk in the State Office Building lobby. There will be overflow viewing in rooms 10 and 181 in the State Office Building as well. There is no construction going on in the State Office Building, so you will still have access to visit me in my office in room 225. Please contact to schedule an appointment for the day you are coming up to the Capitol. You should know that the DFL minority pushed to meet in the new Senate Office Building where there would have been more public access, and running water, but the GOP majority turned down the Senate's offer.

Budget: We learned last week that Minnesota’s economy and budget remain stable, but national economic forces are creating uncertainty. That is one of the reasons our budget surplus has dropped from $1.2 billion to $900 million. There is also uncertainty for many Minnesotans who are feeling squeezed by an economy that’s leaving too many behind. Our relentless focus this session should be providing opportunity for Minnesotans so that our economy is working for all of us, not just those at the top.

Solving our statewide transportation problem: Minnesotans are frustrated by the gridlock on their highways and the gridlock at the State Capitol. This is the year we must truly solve our statewide transportation problem. That means providing the dependable revenue required to actually address roads, bridges and transit without raiding the general fund at the expense of our schools. The Southwest Light Rail line needs to be pushed across the finish line. The cities, counties and federal government have stepped up to invest and it is time for the state to invest. The state's portion of the cost is only 10% of the total project, yet it is the only barrier holding up the project. Please let Governor Dayton know how important this project is to you.

Get Dark Money out of Politics: Corporate special interests are spending millions of dollars trying to influence voters, yet we don’t know where much of that money comes from. This needs to change, but corporate special interests have been successful in fighting to keep their donations shielded from the public. Voters deserve to know who is spending money trying to influence their vote and trying to influence our politicians. I hope we can pass the DISCLOSE Act  so that voters can decide this issue for themselves via a constitutional amendment.

Paid family leave and earned sick and safe time for every Minnesotan: Our families have the same responsibilities to each other they've always had, but workplace policies haven't kept up with our changing way of life. We should ensure that all Minnesota workers have the ability to stay home and care for a sick child or family member without fear of losing a paycheck they need to provide for their family.

Tackle our student debt crisis: Minnesota currently ranks 5th in the nation in student debt. And the average student graduates in Minnesota with $30,894 in debt. We have an opportunity this year to make college more affordable. I am happy to announce that I have been appointed to the Higher Education Committee and have signed onto bills that freeze tuition and make it easier for graduates to refinance their loan at a lower rate.

Provide a quality education to all kids: Last year House Republicans blocked efforts to ensure that all of Minnesota’s youngest learners have access to a quality pre-K education. If we are to truly tackle our achievement gap and improve education outcomes for all of our kids, then we must make investments in our youngest learners.

If we listen to Minnesotans, and respond to the challenges they face on a daily basis, we can make this a productive session. More importantly, we can create more opportunity and an economy that works better for all Minnesotans – not just the wealthy few. That should be our goal and I am ready to get to work.

What are your priorities and concerns heading in to the 2016 session? Please feel free to contact me at or (651)296-9889. You can also take my legislative survey up until March 21, 2016 at the link here.

Thank you,

Cheryl Youakim

State Representative