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

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Legislative Update- March 29, 2018

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

Second deadline week has come and gone in a flurry of activity. While the agendas for committees were not as full as last week, we still kept ourselves busy. On the floor on Monday, we heard three non-controversial bills that passed nearly unanimously. We also finally heard the bill that contained the Association of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) as well as the Minnesota Association of Professional Employee (MAPE) contracts. You can read about this legislation below. On Wednesday we quickly moved bills from one committee to the next. And today, we heard a few more non-controversial bills before Spring Recess. I am sending this update out before we leave the floor this evening. If anything interesting happens during the floor session, I will catch you up on it when we return to work on Monday, April 9th.

Committee Action

In both Government Operations & Elections and Transportation Policy Committee, we heard bills that passed first deadlines in the Senate with a few exceptions. One of those was a prohibition on cities, towns and counties from regulating auxiliary containers (HF3606). Not only would this bill prohibit local governments from placing restrictions or fees on containers or other packaging, but would also abolish local ordinances previously put into place such as recycling standards. Emily Barker, Solid Waste Program Specialist from the City of St. Louis Park, came to testify against the bill. This would reverse their Zero Waste Packaging Ordinance that they put into place on January 1, 2017. This ordinance was put into place in response to state legislation requiring the metro area set a recycling goal at 75%. The city took countless hours of input from their citizens and businesses before crafting a policy that has been successful in reducing waste. This bill clearly preempts the work local governments have done in the area of recycling and is just one of 40+ preemption bills moving through the legislature this legislative biennium. Unfortunately, the bill passed to the next committee on a roll call vote of 9-8.

State Employee Contracts

On the floor last Monday, we voted on a sense of urgency motion and took up SF 3154 which would finally ratify the state employee labor contracts. These 33,000+ state employees plow our roads, guard our prisons, keep our food and drinking water safe, work in our state departments and do much more. Their contracts were negotiated, in good faith, between the Department of Administration and the AFSCME & MAPE unions last July. But, in October when they were brought before the Subcommittee on Employee Relations (SER) the contracts were voted down. The vote was along party lines with all Republican members voting against the negotiated contracts.

In the past, the SER has moved these negotiated contracts on to the legislature to allow them to move through the legislative process where they then receive vetting and an up or down vote. Recently, these contracts have become part of the partisan negotiations at the end of session doing a grave disservice to our valued state employees. I am happy to report that the log jam was finally broken and the contracts were passed in both the Senate and the House and then sent to the Governor for his signature. It is my hope that in the future it does not take close to a year to approve negotiated contracts.

Governor’s Early Childhood Proposal

Governor Dayton has made several new proposals for E-12 education that we will consider this year. His priority to make historic investments have produced real results that are so important.

Because of these efforts, 80,000 children across the state are now enrolled in all-day Kindergarten or high quality early learning programs. Governor Dayton’s supplemental budget includes continuing funding for pre-kindergarten programs that have started in 59 school districts around the state.

If the Legislature does not take action this year, those 59 districts will lose their pre-k funding in 2019. And, to be efficient, these schools need to have stable funding. Investing in early education, whether it be all-day kindergarten, voluntary pre-k, or targeted early learning scholarships, helps spot achievement gaps early so educators and parents can address concerns before that gap widens.

Constituents and Organizations

Calendars have started to slow down as we approach the midpoint in session. As policy committees wrap up their business, there are not as many organizations coming up for visits. On Monday, I met with Hillary Feder, Owner of Hillary’s Gifts on Mainstreet in Hopkins. She was here for MN Retailer’s day at the Capitol, her insights into the small business world are always very helpful.

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Hillary Feder, owner of Hillary’s Gifts in Hopkins

On Wednesday, I had a chance to meet with a group from LeadingAge. This is an organization made up of those who care for our seniors in our nursing homes, assisted living and other facilities. They shared their concerns for the funding cut they are facing because of Federal law changes as well as concerns around elder abuse.

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LeadingAge Constituents

On Thursday, I had a wonderful meeting with April Bryant who is the Early Childhood Strategy Manager for the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ). She was at the Capitol for Advocacy Day for Children. We talked about the barriers parents face in finding space in quality programs and the need for multiple funding streams. NAZ is really doing amazing work for our youngest learners!

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April Bryant, Early Childhood Strategy Manager for the Northside Achievement Zone and a Hopkins resident

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!