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

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Legislative Weekly Recap - March 12-20, 2016

Monday, March 21, 2016

Hello Everyone,

I would like to thank everyone who attended any of the seven Legislative Open Houses I have held from January 30 to March 12. It means a lot to me to have your input and to have citizens actively engaged in democracy. Sen. Latz, Rep. Flanagan and I also had a very well attended Town Hall on February 23 and we will be scheduling another Town Hall once session is over.

Last week was filled with committee hearings, constituent visits and three trips to the House floor for session. This coming week two bills I’ve authored have been scheduled for hearings. On Wednesday, the Health & Human Services Finance Committee will hear the bonding bill for Perspectives Family Center. The bill (HF2346) would use state bonding to expand supportive housing for women and children. Perspectives focuses their programing on mental and chemical health, as well as employment skills. It also includes funding for an all-day early childhood program for homeless and at-risk children that are clients at Perspectives. On Thursday, the State Government Finance Committee will hear my bill (HF1957) to require the Minnesota Department of Revenue to look at implementing a process in which an individual can file Minnesota State taxes on-line for free.

Committee Business

Last week in Government Operations & Elections Committee we heard a variety of bills. The bill that garnered the most discussion, and press, was Rep. Tim Sander’s proposal to switch from a Presidential straw poll at a caucus to a Presidential primary vote. The hearing was for discussion only, and no official action was taken. Currently, we are scheduled to hear the bill again this Thursday.

One highlight of the week was the group of Owatonna students that testified on HF2249; a bill to place a plaque on the Capitol grounds honoring the workers who constructed the Capitol. The students focused their testimony on those who had lost their lives during the original construction. With the current Capitol renovations, the students were not able to tour the Capitol so their teacher suggested historic research instead. The result of that research was the bill. They were well prepared, poised and inspirational.

Students from Owatonna present on Capitol construction history. Photo credit Minnesota House of Representatives.

We had a variety of bills in Property Taxes & Local Government as well as in the Higher Education Finance & Policy Committee. You can find the calendar for the coming weeks by clicking here and also see upcoming committee hearings and bills that are scheduled.

Constituent and Organizations Visits

Last week was filled with organizations making their annual trip to the Capitol to visit with their legislators. It is a great way for constituents to connect and share the issues and specific bills that they care about with their legislator. I met with constituents visiting with a variety of groups, including: the St. Louis Park and Hopkins firefighters, affordable housing advocates, the Builders Association, ARRM (Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota), Opportunity Partners and Augustana Care. I also met with groups from the Federation of the Blind, those here for Humane Lobby Day, a large group from the American Heart Association, a group here for Nursery Day, folks here for Arts Day and a constituent from the Minnesota State Faculty Association.

Local News

·         The City of Hopkins has been highlighted in an online tournament as one of eight strongest towns in America. The contest was sponsored by Strong Towns, a national advocacy group that promotes citizen involvement, financial solvency and smart planning. Here is the Star Tribune article that describes the contest and how to participate in voting as they narrow the brackets down to the finalist.

·         Congratulations to the Hopkins Boys Basketball Team for winning the 4A State Championship with their win over Lakeville! They came back from a 23-23 tie at half-time to win 64-55. It was Coach Ken Novak Jr's seventh state championship and an exciting game to watch!

·         Congratulations to the Hopkins Girls Basketball Team in their second place finish at the state tournament this year. The team has been to the State tournament four of the last five years including three first place finishes and this year’s second place finish. Our student athletes and their fans displayed great sportsmanship.

·         St. Louis Park Schools has focused on narrowing their achievement gap over the last few years and has seen fantastic results. Superintendent Dr. Rob Metz has said that there have been many factors that have contributed to the increasing graduation rates. Among them is a focus on programs including College Possible, the Building Assets Reducing Risks Program, the High Achievement Program as well as funding equity coaches. Superintendent Metz was proud to announce their results at a recent board meeting. You can view the results here.

Even though the Capitol is closed during construction, the State Office Building, where my office is located, is open. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call 651-296-9889 or contact As always, please feel free to contact me with issues or concerns. During session, e-mail is the easiest way to contact me.

Have a great week!