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

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Legislative Weekly Recap - March 21-27, 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016

Hello Everyone,

Last week was shortened with the Friday break, but it was packed nonetheless. We had three floor sessions and full committee hearings. I had two bills up in front of committees last week. On Wednesday, the Health & Human Services Finance Committee heard the bonding bill for Perspectives Family Center. The bill will be considered by the committee for their recommendations to the Capitol Investment Committee. And last Thursday, the State Government Finance Committee heard 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. The House Session Daily highlighted this hearing and you can read the story here (hearing video is in the link).

On the floor last week, we spent time moving bills between committee and last Thursday we passed two bills that addressed the Iron Range. One bill extended the unemployment insurance extension for the steelworkers on the Iron Range. The other bill adjusted the amount of unemployment tax employers pay into the overall fund. You can read more about that vote here.

This week we will once again have three floor sessions and will have extended committee times as we approach the first policy deadline this Friday. First policy deadline requires all bills that include policy changes to clear all of the necessary committees in either the House or the Senate. April 8 is the second policy deadline in which those same bills have to clear all of the necessary committees in the other body.

Committee Business

Last week in Government Operations & Elections Committee we heard a variety of bills. Once again, we discussed Rep. Tim Sander’s proposal to switch from a Presidential straw poll at a caucus to a Presidential primary vote (HF3549). The bill now moves to the Ways & Means Committee this week. The Government Operations& Elections Committee will have lengthy hearings this week as we approach the first policy deadline.

In Property Taxes & Local Government Division the bills we have been hearing have been focused on property tax issues as well as local government procedures. In the Higher Education Committee we have heard from both the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities (MNSCU) with regard to their bonding and budget proposals.

Alzheimer’s Rally Day

On Tuesday, March 29, I will have the honor of addressing those attending the Alzheimer’s Annual Rally Day. I will share my family’s experience with Alzheimer’s and talk to folks about the bill I am sponsoring this session. (HF2536/SF3026).

Last year I passed a bill that required the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to pull together a working group to look at how to address the increased numbers of those with Alzheimer’s or dementia that wander off or go missing. That working group came back with recommendations to enhance existing notification and response systems and provide training to law enforcement to recognize and respond accordingly to missing persons with Alzheimer’s. Six out of 10 persons with dementia will wander. Among those who wander, almost half who are not found within 24 hours suffer serious injury or death.

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 Minnesota Building Trades and the Minnesota Medical Association and the Hopkins Schools Legislative Advocacy Coalition. I also met with members from the Prairie Island Indian Community.

PRE – 3

I started my work in public policy in 2003 advocating for expanding and funding early childhood and family education programs. It has been wonderful to see, over the last few years, the increased public and political support for our youngest learners. And that push continues. This week, lawmakers introduced a package of bills to give all children a strong start in life by making child care more affordable, supporting child care providers, expanding access to care, and increasing infant and child well-being. The “Pre to 3” legislative package targets investments and reforms that support children and families from prenatal to three years of age, a critical time period to ensure that children are healthy and prepared for success later in life.

The “Pre to 3” package also includes investments and reforms to support child care providers. Some of the reforms include efforts to streamline and simplify regulations for child care providers and requiring that the Department of Human Services make prompt payments to child care providers.

The “Pre to 3” package aims to increase infant and child well-being by increasing funding for home visiting and funding at-home infant care for new parents so more can afford to stay home with their babies. In addition, legislators would fully fund Early Head Start so at-risk children receive targeted care and services to promote healthy brain and social/emotional development. To view details of the proposal, click on the link: Pre to 3: Investments to give all children a strong start in life

Don’t Forgot your Property Tax Refund or Renter’s Credit

As a friendly reminder, don’t forget to file for your Renter’s Property Tax or Homestead Credit Refund. To see if you qualify, take a look at the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s Instruction Guide. The forms can be accessed here.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue also has information available on filing for free on their website. If you want to file yourself and wonder if you qualify for free electronic filing products or you want assistance from a free tax preparation site, visit this page.

Additionally, the IRS has free filing information available on their website. On the homepage of their website under the banner “Hot Topics” you will see a link entitled “Get Free Tax Preparation Help” or “Free File Tax Software.”

Have a great week!