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

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Legislative Weekly Recap- March 12-18, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

Session is going by at lightning speed; last week was our fourth week and on the 22nd this week it’s already our first deadline for policy bills to pass necessary committees in the House or Senate. If not, the bill will not move forward this session. Therefore, many committees will be meeting during the day and late into the evening to hear bills this week.

On Tuesday, I met with Chairman Brian Johnson (House Public Safety Committee), to make a personal plea for a hearing on a sexual assault bill I am carrying for a group of U of M Students. This bill would give a victim of sexual assault, and up to two witnesses, immunity from being charged for underage consumption or drug possession if they are under the influence in the course of reporting the assault. I have bipartisan support for the bill and from the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, but am having a hard time moving the bill forward. Many legislators on both sides of the aisle are in the same boat. With such a short session this year, there is not enough time to hear all of the bills that have been introduced.

Committee Action

Last Tuesday, the Transportation Committee met on Tuesday evening as well as during their Monday and Wednesday committee time. While this committee has heard some non-controversial bills this session, the chair has been committed to gutting funding to light rail transit, bus rapid transit and the Met Council. It has been frustrating to hear a dozen bills that would unravel years of work put into all of these projects. This Wednesday, the committee will put together their omnibus policy bill and it will be interesting to see how many of these controversial proposals will be included.

Both of my policy committees will be meeting at their regular time slots during the day as well as every night this week. In fact, on Wednesday night I will have both of the committees meeting at the same time in two different buildings. I wish I had Hermione Granger's time turner to achieve this task. 

State of the State

On Wednesday night, Governor Dayton gave his final State of the State address. I was honored to have Mayor Jake Spano of St. Louis Park join me as my guest. The ceremony of the evening is always special. I also get a kick out of the press “scrum” that surround legislative leaders afterward to catch their reactions. 

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Mayor Jake Spano and me

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Media "Scrum"

The Governor’s speech was a reminder that when we invest in Minnesotans and build on what we value as a state, we can achieve an awful lot. In the past eight years Minnesota has gone from deficits and borrowing money from our schools to surpluses and record investments that have made Minnesota the best state in the country.

It is my hope that we continue to make those investments, but that will only happen if we come together across partisan lines to make that happen. The fact is that we have a divided government right now with the Republican controlled Legislature and the DFL Governor. It will take pressure from folks around the state to move leadership out of their political corners to keep moving Minnesota forward. In his speech, Governor Dayton stressed that every Minnesotan deserves an opportunity to succeed, and we can only make that a reality by continuing to invest in the things that make life better for all of us.

Star Tribune: Gov. Mark Dayton wraps up his final State of the State speech with a focus on finances

Other Action This Week

Dayton Announces Elder Abuse Proposal

Governor Dayton joined Rep. Liz Olson and other legislators to announce a broad set of reforms and investments to hold providers guilty of elder abuse accountable and protect the health, safety, and dignity of seniors and vulnerable adults. I have signed onto this proposal as a co-author.

Later in the week, the Health and Human Services Reform Chair, Rep. Schomacker, said his committee wouldn’t hear AARP’s elder abuse recommendations this year--signaling Republicans do not intend to pass meaningful elder abuse legislation this session. This is very disappointing. While significant changes have been made and the backlog of uninvestigated claims have been investigated, we should do everything we can to ensure this never happens again. Our seniors deserve to live with safety, security and dignity. Action should be taken now.

Student March on Gun Violence

On Wednesday, March 14, at 10:00 a.m., St. Louis Park and Hopkins High School students joined a nationwide protest against gun violence. While I was not able to attend, my intern Brian Yu was able to go and fill me in. In St. Louis Park, students marched from the high school to St. Louis Park Fire Station #1 where they congregated and shared stories.

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Student March

Several students including Carly Livingston, a student at SLP High School, shared personal stories of how gun violence has impacted their lives. Livingston stated, “What I ask of everyone here is this, please use your voice for the people who can’t. I hope that sharing my story with you will motivate people to step up and take action to change gun laws. We must hold ourselves accountable for making the changes we need to see in our country. No more gun violence is needed for us to know that it is time to get control of firearms in the United States.” Following the speakers, students organized various routes of action to take to further advocate against gun violence including registering to vote. Thank you to the city and school administration and elected officials that put plans in place to keep the students safe as they raised their voices. And thank you to the League of Women Voters who were onsite to register students to vote. More importantly, thank you to the students who organized the event and have been truly leading the way on this issue.

Voting & Elections Report

On Friday, The Office of the Legislative Auditor report on Voter Registration was released and reviewed by the Legislative Audit Commission Evaluation Subcommittee. Sen. Susan Kent and Rep. Laurie Halverson introduced the Secure Access for Minnesota Voters Act (HF 3791) this week, ahead of the OLA report release. I have signed onto this bill as a co-author. Their proposal would provide cyber security updates to Minnesota’s voter registration database, establish automatic voter registration, and provide e-poll books for every county that wants them. The Secure Access for Minnesota Voters act will ensure Minnesota continues to have the safest, most secure, and most efficient elections in the country.

Governor’s Supplemental Budget Proposal

On Friday, Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget plan for a better Minnesota. His budget focuses on increasing tax fairness for individuals, continuing investments in Minnesota’s youngest learners, expanding access to affordable health care, leaving a fair and balanced state budget, and improving incomes and economic opportunities for all Minnesotans. I was very happy to see his added investment to quality early childhood programing and his fair approach to tax conformity.

Constituents and Organizations

Another busy week was filled with committees, meetings with colleagues and organizations, three floor sessions and constituent visits. On Monday, we had floor session and committees. In the evening, I hosted a Bipartisan Women Legislators Happy Hour. I have teamed up with a few colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate to organize time outside the Capitol for us to get to know each other. This is the second gathering of what I hope will be many events.

On Tuesday, I met with a few groups of constituents at the Capitol for Disability Day including folks from Reach for Resources. Discussion centered on access to transportation and housing. 

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Disability Day at the Capitol

I also heard from constituents at the Capitol attending the Joint Religious Legislative Council rally. This is an organization of leaders from across faith groups who have come together to lead on a host of issues affecting the less fortunate among us.

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JRLC Constituents and me

Wednesday started out at 8:15 a.m. with Property Taxes Division meeting and ended with the State of the State at 8:30 p.m. In between, I had the opportunity to meet with a variety of constituents and organizations. I did get a chance to meet with a group of Ob-Gyn doctors visiting for Minnesota Medical Association Day (MMA) at the Capitol. We discussed the MMA’s support for gun violence prevention and access to women’s healthcare.

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MMA Constituents and me

I also met with a group of Realtors visiting for Housing First Day to discuss the housing market.

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Realtors and me

Thursday was another busy day full of meetings with constituents. I met with a group of women here from the Coalition of Asian American Leaders to discuss issues facing their community. I also met with a group of Chiropractors and talked about the barriers they face in treating their patients.

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Chiropractors and me 

Rep. Laurie Pryor and I then met with students and school board members from Hopkins and St. Louis Park as well as Hopkins Superintendent Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed. We discussed issues surrounding education funding and policy. This included members of the Hopkins Legislative Action Coalition (LAC) and brought back fond memories. I belonged to this group over a decade ago and made many advocacy trips to the Capitol.

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Students and Education Advocates from St. Louis Park and Hopkins 

I also had a wonderful opportunity to meet with a group of students from St. Louis Park here for the Outfront Rally. They shared their very personal stories about coming out and the real fear they have of being forced into conversion therapy. And I had a surprise visit from a large group from Vail Place that were here for mental health day. Their positive energy made my day! You can learn more about what an amazing organization Vail Place is here.

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Vail Group and me

After our brief floor session at noon, I was able to stop by the U of M Food Day. There, the university highlighted the foods they produce through their many agricultural programs. There were samples of some of their cheese and meats as well as a drawing to win a pound of their award winning bacon. My family was pleasantly surprised when I was able to “bring home the bacon” after winning the drawing.

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U of M Food Day

St. Louis Park resident, Brian Schutte, visited me for the Bicycle Alliance Day at the Capitol. We had a great conversation about the need for infrastructure around biking and Safe Routes to School.

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Brian Schutte and me

The highlight of the day was meeting with Hopkins resident, Paul Eickenberg, who was here for American Society of Civil Engineers Day at the Capitol. Not only was it informative, it was great to catch up on family news with my neighbor and friend.

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Paul Eickenberg and me

Friday I headed to the Capitol for a meeting with business leaders regarding the need for funding the buildout of transit. I also spent some time in my office going through piles of paper that have accumulated on my desk while tuning into the Governor’s press conference regarding his budget proposal. And on Saturday evening, I was excited to tune into the Girls High School Basketball Championship game. It was a nail biter of a game with a 68-63 finish. The Hopkins girls’ team fought until the end for their second place finish and should be very proud of the game they played.

It is very important for me to hear what your thoughts are as we move through session.  I know many of you cannot make it to the Capitol or made it to one of 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!