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

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Legislative Weekly Recap- February 26-March 5, 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

With the second week under our belts, the session is off to a quick start. Committees are meeting regularly and have started to pass bills through the process. Organizations and constituents are visiting to share their thoughts; I hope you will also reach out with your input. Last week was eventful with the February State Budget Forecast announced, committee deadlines set, gun violence reform bills heard in committee, and much more.

February Forecast

On Wednesday, MMB released the February Economic Forecast, showing a modest surplus of $329 million. While Minnesota’s budget remains relatively stable, federal uncertainty threatens the economic outlook for our state and Minnesota families. It’s important to exercise caution, and to invest responsibly in things that will increase opportunity for all Minnesotans. The impacts of the Federal tax bill are uncertain, and could further put our economic stability at risk.Without legislative changes, Minnesota families could face a $450 million tax increase. You can see the video presentation of the budget forecast with Commissioner Frans from the Department of Minnesota Management and Budget here.

Committee Deadlines

House and Senate leadership have set Committee Deadlines for the session. March 22 is the first policy deadline, which means the policy provisions of a bill need to pass all of the committees of jurisdiction in either the House or the Senate by this date. March 29 is the second policy deadline, meaning that the previously passed bills would need to pass through all necessary committees in the other body (House or Senate). The third deadline deals with budget bills. Any bill that contains monetary funding has until April 20th to pass and then either move to the House or Senate floor as a stand-alone bill, or be included in a larger omnibus bill.

Gun Violence Reform Bills

Following Rep. Dave Pinto’s use of House rules to force a hearing on common sense gun safety measures--a bill to expand Criminal Background Checks (HF 1669) and another to allow for Gun Violence Protective Orders (HF 1605)--Republicans in the Public Safety Committee effectively blocked the bills by voting to table them. I am a co-author on both bills and while I am disappointed, I am not surprised.Minnesotans deserve action to curb the epidemic of senseless gun violence. So far, we have no indication that the House or Senate Republican leadership are taking the issue seriously.

MPR: GOP ices gun restriction bills at Minnesota Capitol

The People’s House

On Monday, I had the opportunity to meet with the Hopkins High School Robotics Team who were visiting for STEM Advocacy Day in the Capitol Rotunda. They shared their thoughts on what the opportunity to learn robotics engineering has meant to them. Hearing about the design and engineering that went into their project for the Regional Competition was amazing. Best of luck!

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On the House Floor on Thursday, Rep. Rick Hansen (D), made a motion to allow the existing funds to be released to help fix the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) system. As of March 1, 2018, computer engineers who are in high demand, can navigate the system and repair the glitches have been given a 30-day end of contract notification because there isn’t money available to continue to fund them. To address this immediate need, Gov. Mark Dayton requested releasing funds from the Vehicle Services and Driver Services funds in the amount of $10 million.  Unfortunately, the motion was voted down along party lines with the Democrats voting yes and the Republican voting no. Minnesotans deserve to have a functional system without further delay and speedy action is needed.

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Community Conversations

Every two weeks January through 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 only have a few left, so I hope to see you at one of the remaining Conversations:

St. Louis Park Public Library

3240 Library Ln., St. Louis Park

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.

On Tuesday, I met with constituents that were here advocating during Disability Day at the Capitol and then with some folks with the Federation for the Blind. Both groups were concerned with transportation, accessibility and funding.

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 I also had the chance to walk students from Girls United MN, a group from Hopkins High School, through the Press Room to tell their story. This group of amazing young women are advocating for a bill they have written pushing for education awareness of sex trafficking in high school health class.

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On Wednesday, I met with a group of physical therapy student asking for more flexibility in treating patients when they graduate.

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I also had the amazing opportunity to hear stories from parents who have children with rare diseases who were here for a Rare Disease Forum. Erica Barnes and her husband Philip started an organization called Chole’s Fight in honor of their daughter who died of a rare disease. This year, a bill they are sponsoring is moving through the legislature.

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The bill creates a rare disease task force to study the best way to find funding for cures and any policy changes that would be needed to further research.

On Thursday morning I started out my day at an early breakfast for St. Louis Park’s Children First organization. Children First is a community based organization that builds assets in our youth to help them be successful in life. They do this through mentorship and training adults in the community on how to instill these assets in our kids. It has been very successful in St. Louis Park and I encourage you to check it out and see how to get involved. Van Hong is a St. Louis Park graduate, successful businessman and soccer coach who talked about what support from the adults in the community meant to him.

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When I arrived at the Capitol, I had a chance to meet with a great group of students from the University of Minnesota Duluth. They are very concerned with student debt and the need for bonding money to fix the buildings at UMD.

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I also visited with the illustrious fire fighters from Hopkins and St. Louis Park, and they had many concerns. Among them was the chemicals they are exposed to when they fight fires.

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 I finished my day meeting with a lovely group of women visiting for pro-choice day at the Capitol. They want to make sure that women have access to affordable healthcare.

It is very important for me to hear what your thoughts are as we move through 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!