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

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Legislative Weekly Recap- April 17-24, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Dear Neighbors,

With the end of session four weeks away, there is a lot of work yet to be done. Conference committees are meeting to hash out the differences between House and Senate bills. While we wait for joint budget targets to be set by the Republican House and Senate majorities, conference committees are going over the similarities and differences of the policy in the various omnibus bills.

If you are interested in following any of the conference committees you can find more information about each bill on the House website here. (The link takes a little time to load because of the amount of information it contains, so please be patient.) This website shows each of the current conference committees, their assigned members and links to the side-by-sides that legislators review in committee. Side-by-sides are put together by the Revisor’s Office and show the detailed sections of House and Senate versions of a particular omnibus bill next to each other on the same page. They go over policy and finance provisions in each of the bills and are the “blueprints” that the members will use to put together a compromise bill called a conference committee report. This site also has links to the audio or video of recent meetings the conference committees have held.

Transportation Advocacy Needed

Last week, the conference committee for the Transportation Omnibus bill met to go over the side-by-sides and to take limited public testimony. Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle shared Governor Mark Dayton’s concern that both of the bills shift millions of dollars annually from the General Fund and borrow over one billion dollars through both trunk highway and general obligation bonds. There is much concern over the hole that will be left in the general fund as that leaves a gap in funding for schools, nursing homes, health and human services and the general operations of our state. Some of the testimony in the conference committee echoed those concerns.

But, testimony mainly focused on the dramatic cuts that both bills make to transit and specifically to the Metropolitan Council. The Met Council is charged with funding and running metro buses and the light rail system. With the current House proposal, Met Council will have to cut their budget by 40%. That could lead to four out of ten buses being taken off the road. In the metro area 80% of people who ride transit are going to work or school and 40% of people traveling to downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul for work ride transit. These cuts will also harm Minnesotans who are transit dependent to get to their jobs, school and doctor’s appointments. I spoke on the House floor against the cuts that 83 metro cities will see to their bus service and you can see that video here.

The Republicans’ proposal also removes all authority for cities, counties or Met Council from studying, planning or building any future light rail lines including the SWLRT and the Bottineau lines. In addition, it requires the Counties Transit Investment Board to cover 100% of the operating cost of all light rail and bus rapid transit lines, removing the 50% state share. All of these proposals put the future of the Southwest LRT in jeopardy. There has also been requests, from 84 Republican legislators, to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao requesting that the Federal funds for the project not be sent to Minnesota. A recent Star Tribune article notes these actions.

I will continue to push for full funding for transit and for the completion of SWLRT. Please consider sharing your thoughts with the Governor regarding these transit cuts as well as SWLRT. Your advocacy is more imperative now than ever before.

MN Commerce Dept. offers insurance tips during Severe Weather Awareness Week

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is encouraging Minnesotans to take some simple steps to prepare financially in the event of a tornado, flooding or other severe weather.

The Commerce Department website ( features a Disaster Information Center detailing how to plan ahead and steps to take if you suffer storm damage.

The following tips are offered to help prepare for severe weather:

Make a Home Inventory

Review and Update your Homeowners insurance policy

Consider flood insurance

Check your auto coverage

Constituent and Organization Visits

Visits with organizations and constituents have begun to slow down. I met with constituents that were up at the Capitol with Habitat for Humanity as well as those advocating for clean water at the Minnesota Water Action Day (picture below). I also had a pleasant surprise from a few constituents who dropped by before the transit rally last Wednesday.

 House Image

Barb Patterson visited me to talk about important clean water policies.

Last Friday I had a chance to meet with Gail Skoglund from Open Circle. She is working on a wonderful project to help make the City of Hopkins friendly and safe for those suffering from Alzheimer’s. Mark your calendar for May 18 for a community event from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Eisenhower Community Center where you can learn more about the project. I also had a chance to meet with Ken Schempp who is starting a local non-profit called Connect the Dots as well as Deborah Wells from the Meadowbrook Collaborative. They will be focusing on connecting underemployed folks find better paying jobs. Stay tuned for more information.

Friday evening I had the opportunity to meet with some neighbors who wanted to learn about the best ways to make their voices heard at the Capitol. It was great to meet with folks who are such strong advocates for their community.

As always, please feel free to contact me with questions and issues. E-mail at is the best way to get in touch. If it is urgent, or you would like to schedule a meeting, please contact my office by phone at 651-296-9889.

Have a great week!