Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

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

Back to profile

Legislative Update- May 19, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Hello Everyone,

There are only 4 days remaining in the 2017 legislative session, including today, and a budget solution seems elusive. All budget issues remain unresolved with the exception of agriculture. Compromise is needed to pass a budget to fund Minnesota into the future. Things can change very quickly during the last few days of session so this update reflects where things are at as of the morning of Friday, May 19.

On Monday we heard the remaining omnibus bills: Jobs & Energy, Higher Education and Public Safety. They were passed on predominately party line votes and sent to Governor Dayton who then promptly vetoed them as promised. The hope was that this would break the log jam and bring folks back to the negotiating table. You can read his veto letters here.

Jobs & Energy

This conference committee report did not come back in much better shape than when it left the House floor. It does little to create jobs in Minnesota and rolls back clean energy progress. The proposal underfunds Border to Border broadband, eliminates recent efforts to ensure Minnesotans’ internet privacy and prohibits local governments from adopting ordinances like plastic bag bans. I was really hoping more money would be added to this area of the budget, but the Republicans kept the budget target low. I voted no on the conference committee report and hope that negotiations continue.

Higher Education

There was little money added to this budget after it left the House floor. Instead of investing in Minnesotans, Republicans are proposing a higher education budget that’s nearly $200 million less than what Governor Dayton requested and well below what the higher education institutions are requesting. Underfunding education will continue to lead to program cuts, staff layoffs, increased tuition and skyrocketing student debt. The Governor also vetoed this bill and is continuing to push for added funding for our University and State College system.

Public Safety

This final proposal from the House and Senate GOP puts Minnesotan’s access to the justice system in jeopardy by drastically underfunding our court system and Minnesota’s corrections system. While cuts to our corrections system put everyone at risk, it is the cuts to the courts that are particularly disturbing. This is the third branch of government that the Legislative branch has decided to slash. So much for checks and balances. Like the other budget areas, public safety is full of controversial policy (like limiting peaceful protest) that the Governor has requested be separate from the budget.

We continue to meet on the House floor every day to vote on bills from the General Register. Many of these bills are non-controversial and are also tucked away in some of the omnibus bills. Other bills of note that came up on the floor this week were the Teacher Licensure bill on Tuesday, Real ID on Wednesday as well as an inadequate, failed bonding bill.

Teacher Licensure

On Tuesday, the Teacher Licensure bill passed off the House floor. I joined many of my DFL colleagues in voting no. The bill lessens the Minnesota’s rigorous teaching standards that have allowed us to build a nation leading education system. This is the biggest change to our teacher licensure process in decades and is very controversial.

While I do agree our licensure process needs to be more streamlined and easier to access, I do not believe this bill is the answer. It relaxes licensing requirements, allows school districts change their process for renewing licenses and paves the way for retired teachers with out-of-state teaching licenses to teach in Minnesota without any formal training. It would allow anyone with a four-year degree in any subject to walk into a public classroom and teach without any instruction in how to teach, child development and would not require any formal student teaching experience. We must insist that our students are learning from those who have attained the training needed to provide the best education possible.

Real ID

On Wednesday, we passed the compromised Real ID bill. It passed both the House and Senate with overwhelming support. This is the bill that would make Minnesota compliant with the Federal ID law. It would mean that Minnesotans will be able to continue to board domestic flights, with a compliant Minnesota driver’s license. I was happy to vote for a clean bill that did not include the extraneous language the House Republicans were originally insisting on pushing. Governor Dayton signed this bill on Thursday and now the Department of Public Safety can begin their work on implementation. Here is an article that provides answers to some frequently asked questions.

Bonding Bill

On Wednesday, we also heard the capital investment bill, also known as the bonding bill. This bill allows state government to take out bonds to help fund with infrastructure projects in our communities. It funds things from water treatment facilities to university buildings, and parks. A large bonding bill is usually passed in the even numbered years, the second year of the biennium, but one could not be agreed upon last session, so the need is long overdue.

Earlier in the year, Governor Dayton proposed a $1.5 billion bonding bill. The Senate’s was $973 million. The bill we saw from the House GOP on Wednesday was $800 million. While the lower House number was disappointing, what was even more so was the lack of regional fairness in the proposal. The metro area was largely left out of the proposal as were the colleges and university system. A balanced bill is important because it takes a 60% vote (81 votes) to pass a bonding bill. This lack of balance is one of the reasons the bill failed on a 70-62 vote, with only 10 republicans voting against it and only 3 democrats voting for it. Negotiations will continue and I hope to see a bill come back that is closer to the Senate’s number. Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of time left for this to happen. On a personal note, I was disappointed that the proposal to fund the St. Louis Park program Perspectives was not in the bill. Perspectives takes women and children straight from homeless shelters, houses them, gives them therapy for their addiction and builds hope by breaking cycles. I had a bonding request that would begin planning for the buildout of their early childhood center.

Budget Negotiations

This is the time of year when the House, Senate and the Governor begin final negotiations on the State budget. We are tasked to pass a balanced budget in the first year of a biennium and our work must be done this year by midnight on Monday, May 22. While we can go into a special session to finish the job, if the budget is not set by June 30 the state shuts down all but essential services on July 1.

Last week, republicans walked away from negotiations with Governor Dayton. The governor warned he would veto the inadequate Republican budget bills stuffed with controversial policy, but they moved ahead alone. At the end of last week and on Monday, the Governor carried through and vetoed all 10 budget bills that the Republican majority had sent to him.

Governor Dayton vetoed the Republican budget in order to resume negotiations and speed up the end of session negotiations. Talks among leadership seemed encouraging until Wednesday night. That evening, the Governor made a “half-way” proposal that you can see here. The republicans responding by only moving $50 million from their last offer.

Basically, Governor Dayton started his proposal with fully funding the courts and the state department’s cybersecurity request. He believes, and I agree, that the courts should be able to set their budget and we should fund their request. They are the third branch of Government and should operate with some autonomy. As for the cybersecurity and state computer upgrades, they are crucial to the safety of every citizen’s data as well as the functioning of our state departments. When your systems have 3 million hits a day from hackers, acknowledging the problem and remaining idle is unacceptable.

Governor Dayton then took the remainder of the roughly $1.15 billion surplus and met the Republicans in the middle dividing it between the GOP legislature’s priorities and his. I stand with the Governor. The choice by republicans to underfund our schools, increase tuition, rollback protections for clean air, land and water, and cut Minnesotan’s health care will not make Minnesota successful into the future. Instead of these choices, compromise is needed to invest in the things that have made Minnesota’s economy strong and that Minnesotans value. Over the next few days, it is my hope we will reach a compromise budget that provides efficiency and accountability in order to build a better future for all Minnesotans, not just a few.

Breaking News

At 4:15 p.m. today (Friday, May 19), the Republican majorities in the House and Senate held a press conference to say that they will send another full set of 10 budget bills to the Governor by Saturday or Sunday. They will “keep negotiations open” but will “go it alone” if need be. This is a very frustrating turn of events. Conference Committees on these final bills will start meeting immediately and could go into late hours of the night. No word on if they will be taking any public testimony.

Schedules will remain fluid and negotiations among leadership can change things rapidly. It is very important to me to hear what your thoughts are as budget bills begin to wrap up. 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 weekend!