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

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Legislative Weekly Recap- March 19-25, 2018

Monday, March 26, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

The week of the first deadline has come and gone and was filled with late night sessions and lots of coffee. March 29 will mark the second policy deadline before we take our Spring Recess. We met on the floor three times this week to move some non-controversial bills and legislation from one policy committee to the next. On Thursday, we took up the conference committee report for the first fix to MNLARS, you can see the details below.

Committee Action

In the House, my two policy committee were very busy last week meeting into the evening Monday through Thursday. On Wednesday night, I had two committees meeting simultaneously. Luckily, they were moved into the same building right across the hall from each other. We spent the evening in Transportation Policy & Regional Governance putting together the policy omnibus bill. All in all, the bill was very disappointing as it includes language to remove funding from the Metropolitan Council so that expansion of transit, particularly light rail, would be greatly hampered. The Republican Chair even included a bill to ban co-location of light rail and freight rail in the same corridor making the build-out of Southwest Light Rail and Bottineau impossible. I had amendments to remove all of these sections but they failed on a party-line vote. That evening I also spent time running across the hall to participate in the House Government Operations & Elections Committee as we had 21 bills left on the agenda from that morning’s meeting.

On Thursday, HF 3723 was amended and passed out of the Government Operations & Elections Committee. The bill cripples the ability of the largest public unions to collect dues for independent expenditures and eliminates their ability to accept voluntary paycheck deductions that contribute to a union’s political advocacy work. Workers in Minnesota have a right to organize for higher wages, safer working conditions, and a path to retire with dignity. The room was packed during our morning session by labor folks protesting the bill but it was moved to the evening meeting. We did not hear it until after 9:30 p.m. I voted in opposition to the bill.

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Government Operations & Elections Committee room filled with labor folks

While many think partisanship prevents work from getting done, there are plenty of bills that do pass with bipartisan support. Many are non-controversial tweaks to current law or just plain good ideas. There were two of those bills that stuck out in my mind this week. On Tuesday evening, we heard Rep. Tony Albright’s bill to create an advisory council on pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS) and pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS) (HF3530). We heard stirring testimony from the parents of a child with PANDAS. It is a very debilitating disease that can be treated if caught in time but often goes undiagnosed. And, on Thursday we heard a bill to create a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women task force to report on issues related to violence against indigenous women and girls (HF3375). Author Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn and women leaders in the Native American community shared startling statistics. One out of every two native women will face sexual assault in their lives. And, 28% of murder victims in the country are indigenous women. This task force will collect meaningful data that could then lead to solutions to stem this dreadful tide.

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Reps. Mary Kunesh-Podein and Jamie Becker-Finn with women leaders

The People’s House

New Voices Bill

On Monday, I had the honor of speaking with students from Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Stillwater, Champlin Park and St. Francis who were at the Capitol to talk with legislators about the “New Voices” bill. I am carrying this legislation with Sen. Susan Kent that would allow students more freedom in printing stories in their high school and college newspapers. The bill requires the teaching of journalist standards and would not allow a school district to censor the student’s articles unless they were disruptive of the school day, libel, slanderous or contained obscenities. This bill was introduced two years ago and I have not been able to get Rep. Sondra Ericson to give it a hearing. The students did an incredible job talking to legislators and the press.

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St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Stillwater, Champlin Park and St. Francis students gather at the Capitol to advocate for the New Voices Bill

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Michael Korsh, Minnesota Student Journalist of the Year from Hopkins High School

Alzheimer’s Rally

Alzheimer’s is growing across the country at a rapid pace. Our policies and safety net programs need to catch up. During my first session, I had a bill pass that created a task force to see if we needed a Silver Alert in Minnesota or to just needed to enhance our Missing Person alert system. The task force, comprised of those working in law enforcement and in our public health sector, put forward recommendation to enhance the system we currently have in place. I took those recommendations and crafted another bill asking for money to fund these alert systems. I introduced that bill in 2016 and I am still fighting to pass it and am thankful for the organization’s support. Thank you to the Alzheimer’s Association who have supported the legislation and were at the Capitol on Monday to push for policies that protect our loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

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Alzheimer’s Rally

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Beth McMullen, Vice President, Government Affairs for the Alzheimer’s Association who is also a constituent from St. Louis Park

Labor Rally

Tuesday there was a large labor rally in the Capitol Rotunda filled with members from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). These are the folks who plow our roads, guard our prisons, keep our food and drinking water safe, work in our state departments and do much more. My brother is an AFSCME worker, and I was proud to stand in solidarity with him and all other public servants who do so much for Minnesota.

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Beth McMullen, Vice President, Government Affairs for the Alzheimer’s Association who is also a constituent from St. Louis Park

National Puppy Day

Thank you to the Minnesota Humane Society for bringing puppies to the Legislature on Thursday for National Puppy Day. While the event always helps to bring awareness of the good work that the Humane Society does, these furry friends help with the stress level during deadline week as well.

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Zach Nugent, constituent and Media Producer for the Humane Society


On Thursday, when legislators arrived at the House Chamber for session we were greeted with a startling and moving sight. High school students had staged a 'die-in' on the floor in front of the chamber. It has become a daily occurrence to see students at the Capitol protesting for common sense gun safety solutions as well as many other issues. It means so much to have these young leaders raise their voices and be civically engaged.

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Student ‘Die-In’

Other Action This Week

Medical Assistance Work Requirements Move Forward

On Tuesday evening, the Health and Human Services Reform Committee passed HF 3722, the Medical Assistance work requirements bill. Minnesota Republicans have joined national efforts to limit the number of people receiving Medical Assistance, known as Medicaid nationally. All Minnesotans deserve access to quality, affordable health care. This bill is an effort by Republicans to take health care away from the Minnesotans who need it most, and won’t lead to a single person getting better health care or gaining economic security. The bill passed to the next committee with only Republicans voting in the affirmative.

Star Tribune: Proposed Medicaid work requirements could end up costing Minnesota

MNLARS Delayed and Passed

On Monday, the Senate voted to pass a temporary MNLARS fix (SF 3133), which Governor Dayton signaled he would sign. The House refused to accept the Senate version and passed their version which would raid $10 million from other state agencies. On Thursday, a conference committee adopted most of the Senate bill. Both the House and Senate declared an urgency to pass the conference committee report and it was signed by Governor Dayton.

Minnesotans deserve a licensing system that works, and they expect it to be fixed if it doesn’t. Unfortunately, Republicans’ obsessive focus on blaming others and political grandstanding caused delay after delay, making the problem worse instead of finding a solution. Minnesotans expected and deserved action weeks ago. I voted ‘yes’ on the final conference committee report.

Star Tribune: Governor Dayton signs compromise giving $10 million to fix vehicle registration system

Gun Violence Prevention Legislation Is Halted Again

After weeks of sustained protests, calls, and emails in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting, Republican leadership again halted progress on common-sense gun safety measures for this year. In Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee, Rep. Dave Pinto moved to revisit his gun violence prevention bills that would expand criminal background checks and create gun violence protective orders. All but one House Republican on the committee voted against removing the bills from the table and allowed the policy committee deadline to halt the bills for the year. There’s broad support among Minnesotans to pass common-sense gun violence prevention measures. We should be committed to working together to deliver common-sense gun safety measures that will make our families, communities, and Minnesota safer.

KARE 11: Republicans block efforts to revive Minnesota gun bills

March For Our Lives

On Saturday, March 24th, close to 20,000 people came to the Capitol to push for common sense gun control. This march was organized and led by students. They started their march at Harriet Island and had asked any adults that wanted to participate to greet them at the Capitol. Once the students arrived on the Capitol steps, there were two hours of moving speeches. The hockey team from Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD - Parkland, FL) was in Minnesota for a national tournament and joined the march. Hearing a MSD student say that “a person should never have to go to 17 funerals in one week” brought many tears. You can see a video of the rallyhere. As a parent, I could feel my heart tighten listening to a MSD parent say that their child and their classmates would never be the same. I had the privilege, along with Rep. Laurie Halverson, to bring some of the students and parents into the Capitol to warm up and take turns taking pictures on the House floor. If the students who participated on Saturday are a glimpse of America’s future, we are in good hands.

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas students and parents speaking

Constituents and Organizations

Another busy week was filled with committees, meetings with colleagues and organizations, three floor sessions and constituent visits. On Tuesday, I had a chance to meet with a dietician student and talk about the barriers people face to access healthy foods.

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Dietician student Kaitlin Broz who will soon graduate from the U of M

I also had the chance to meet with St. Louis Park resident Bill Brandt. He has had a long career in emergency care and came to speak with me about a bill that the EMS first responders support. He was also at the Capitol to receive the MN Ambulance Association’s “Stars of Life” Award. Congratulations!

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Bill Brandt and me

On Wednesday, I spoke with folks visiting for Insurance Day at the Capitol and had a surprise visit from Hopkins Councilmember Jason Gadd and City Manager Mike Mornson. I also had a chance to sit in briefly on a presentation from the U of M Masonic Cancer Center. Thursday, I met with two constituents here for Bankers Day and heard about the community service their banks are doing. And finally, I met with two St. Louis Park residents lobbying for smoke-free policies like raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21 and here with ClearWay Minnesota Day at the Capitol.

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Clearway Minnesota Day at the Capitol

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 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!