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

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Legislative Weekly Recap- February 20-25, 2018

Monday, February 26, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

The 90th Session of the Minnesota State Legislature officially began on Feb. 20 at noon. It will be a short session and I have hit the ground running and ready to go.

Committee hearings will be in full swing this week. Once again, I am on the Government Operations & Elections Committee, the Property Tax & Local Government Division and the Transportation and Regional Governance Committee. With the focus on federal tax conformity, I am expecting the Property Tax & Local Government Division to be very busy in the upcoming month. This is the second year of the biennium and we traditionally focus on bonding/public works projects across the state and policy related bills, as we set the state budget last year. The February forecast will be released this week and may show a small surplus. If so, the legislature will then begin work on a supplemental budget.

While things are bound to move fast over the next few weeks, the Minnesota House of Representatives webpage is a great resource for information. If you are interested in following a bill through the process, watching committee hearings, floor sessions or receiving the Session Daily News, please check out If you would like to see what bills I am authoring, or co-authoring, and see my newest posts please check out my legislative page here. I also have an official Facebook page that you can find here.

Floor Session

Moving forward, floor sessions have been scheduled for Mondays and Thursdays at 3:30 p.m.

On the first day of session, there were bill introductions but there was also another unusual move by the majority. They took bills that had been ‘tabled’ last session and sent them straight to several conference committees. There, the handful of legislators serving on these committees have the ability to roll in other budget and policy and send them back to the House floor as conference committee reports. Conference committee reports cannot be amended and can only receive a yes or no vote on the floor.

On Thursday, one of those conference committee reports came back to the floor with the budget for the State Legislature rolled into it. As a reminder, this is the budget that funds the legislature that Governor Dayton line-item vetoed at the end of last session. It was my hope, as well as many of my colleagues, that we could also address the negotiated public employee contracts along with our own budget. But, because the majority chose to use a conference committee report, we could not amend it to attach those contracts. Currently, thousands of public employees are working without their fairly negotiated contracts. These are our friends and neighbors that plow our highways, care for our aging parents and relatives in nursing homes, guard our prisons and do so much more. I voted no on our legislative budget because I want to make sure that we are also taking care of all public employees and not just ourselves. Unfortunately, the bill passed on mostly partisan lines with only the legislative budget in it.

The People’s House

Our beautifully renovated State Capitol is open to all. It is where Minnesotans can gather to watch their government at work and to have their voices heard. And, as it should be, it was filled with many voices last week. Throughout session, I will try and share pictures of the groups that come up to greet us. You can also follow me on Instagram at CLYouakim to see some of my daily pictures from the Capitol. 

When we came into session on Tuesday, we were greeted with a large group from Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. They were there to ask for common sense gun safety reforms and to not expand access to guns. They lined the stairs and stood outside the House Chamber to greet us with personal messages.

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On Wednesday, House members had an all-day training to discuss Implicit Bias and Sexual Harassment. During the lunch break, I attended a bipartisan luncheon put on by our Civility Caucus. After the luncheon, the Winona State University Choir was in the rotunda singing. It was beautiful and haunting with the echoes from the Capitol dome.  You can see a short video of their performance on my State Representative Facebook page or Instagram account.

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And on Thursday, all three levels of the Capitol Rotunda were packed with Minnesotans wearing orange for a rally hosted by Protect Minnesota. All ages were represented as they advocated for common sense gun policies to keep our public spaces safe. Of all the speakers at the rally that day, I was particularly moved by two students from St. Louis Park High School. Anna DuSaire and Eva Goldfarb spoke eloquently about wanting to feel safe while they learn at school. They demanded that adults and legislators step up to pass policies to keep them safe.

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Community Conversations

Every two weeks throughout March, I host Community Conversations. They are a great way to briefly hear about what is happening during the Legislative Session, get your questions answered and talk about the issues that you care about. I hope to see you at one of them. Here is the schedule of the remaining Conversations:

St. Louis Park Public Library

3240 Library Ln., St. Louis Park

Monday, Feb. 26 - 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 6 - 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.


Hopkins Public Library

22 11th Ave. N., Hopkins

Saturday, March 10 - 10:30 a.m. - Noon

Constituents and Organizations

Throughout session, constituents and organizations visit their legislators at the Capitol. On Friday, I hold most of constituent meetings in the district. I also attend many events hosted by organizations to hear about their important issues. Since this was the first week of session, things were rather light.

On Monday, Rep. Laurie Pryor and I met with a Hopkins High School student named Jessica Melnick. She joined fellow students in creating a student led organization called Girls United MN.  You can learn more about their efforts here. Over the last few years they have mentored younger students around many issues including STEM education and healthy life choices. This year, they have brought legislation to the Capitol requesting that anti-sex trafficking education be taught in health class. This is just another example of students taking the lead on social change.

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On Tuesday evening, I attended the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce annual “Welcome Back to Session” event. I sat with members from our local TwinWest Chamber and enjoyed great discussions. We also heard from a panel of legislative leaders on what the upcoming session may hold.

Thursday, I met with a group of students visiting to discuss the importance of investing in mental health programs for students. I also met with a group of constituents that were attending the Protect Minnesota rally.

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That evening, I was invited to an event organized by former State Senator Steve Kelley, and constituent, to hear about an amazing program called Playworks.

On Friday, I had the wonderful opportunity to read to a group of preschoolers at Kids Zone Early Learning Center in St. Louis Park. I also met with Deb Brinkman, a constituent and League of Women Voters member to discuss instant runoff voting.

It is very important for me to hear what your thoughts are as we start the first few weeks of session.  I know many of you cannot make it to the Capitol or to my Community Conversations but, I am always available by email at While email is the best way to get in touch with me, feel free to contact my office by phone (651-296-9889) if you have an urgent matter or you would like to schedule a meeting.

Have a great week!