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

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Legislative Weekly Update- April 16-22, 2018

Monday, April 23, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

Last week, floor sessions began to pick up. On Monday and Thursday, we passed a variety of mostly non-controversial bills and on Wednesday, we moved bills between committees. Committee work has focused on putting together the omnibus finance bills, as well as the Property Tax Division report that will be rolled into the final Tax bill. You can read about both below. This week, so far, we are scheduled to meet on the House floor every day Monday through Thursday. Early in the week, we will hear individual bills that are placed on the calendar for the day. You can find this information on the main House website and sign up for the e-mail notifications here to see what bills we are hearing on the floor each day.

Fighting for Clean Water
On Monday, we heard a controversial bill on the House floor. The House narrowly passed a Republican-authored bill to prohibit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) from implementing proposed rules for nitrogen fertilizer use. Authorized under 1989’s Groundwater Protection Act, the rules would protect Minnesota’s water resources by minimizing nitrate pollution. Nitrates in drinking water are a serious health hazard, especially for fetuses and babies.
No Minnesotan should ever experience preventable health risks from breathing polluted air or from drinking unsafe water. We should ensure all Minnesotans are safe from pollution. Unfortunately, far too many Minnesotans are facing unsafe drinking water. That’s why we need to set a few ground rules for how and when to apply fertilizers, especially in areas already heavily polluted or more susceptible to pollution. The picture below shows the impaired lakes and watersheds in our state.



Waters in Minnesota impaired from nitrates
Omnibus Finance Bills Move Forward
As the third committee deadline passed, most finance bills have been passed out of their respective committees and are onto the next step. These are the omnibus budget and policy bills that will be moving to the House floor this week and next. Now that Republicans have announced their supplemental budget targets and begun moving these bills, I am concerned that there is a lack of investment in the things Minnesotans value like expanding quality early childhood education, keeping college tuition down, making healthcare more accessible and affordable, keeping seniors safe and secure in retirement, and ensuring every Minnesotan has an opportunity to provide a better future for their family.
The finance bills that moved forward in committee last week include: Legacy, Education, Higher Education, Health and Human Services, Environment and Natural Resources, Transportation, Agriculture, Public Safety, Jobs and Energy, and State Government. There are still several significant issues we need to tackle this year including a tax bill and a public infrastructure jobs bill. Governor Mark Dayton has introduced both a Tax bill and a Bonding bill but we have yet to see bills from the Republican leadership. We have just over four weeks left, so hopefully we will see them soon.

Property Tax Division
Last week, the House Property Tax Division met on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to put together the Property Tax Division report. This report moves to the full House Tax Committee which will decide what provisions will be included in the full tax bill. There was one particular provision Chair Steve Drazkowski included in the division report that was of particular concern to me. This provision would remove Local Government Aid and County Program Aid from any city or county that could be considered a “sanctuary city” or puts together a legal defense fund to help its immigrant residents. On Wednesday, we had very compelling testimony to why this is not the right approach for Minnesota.
I had many concerns surrounding this bill due to the lack of legal definitions, opening up the state to costly lawsuits, interfering with local control, and making it much harder for city employees and police/sheriff departments to do their jobs. This provision was opposed by the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Metropolitan Counties, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Hennepin County, ACLU and the Immigrant Legal Defense Fund. I introduced an amendment on Friday to remove this provision from the division report but, unfortunately, it failed on a mostly party-line vote. There were other provisions in the division report that removes local control and adds burdens onto our property tax payers so I voted ‘no’ on the final division report.
Rep. Thissen Appointed to Supreme Court
Last week, former Speaker of the House and current Representative Paul Thissen resigned his legislative seat and was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Rep. Thissen gave his farewell speech on the floor on Thursday. He talked about some of the highlights of his legislative career and encouraged us to find a way to make the legislative process more transparent and civil. Personally, I will miss his leadership but look forward to reading his first opinion as a Supreme Court justice. 
Star Tribune: Paul Thissen, former state House speaker, to join Minnesota Supreme Court

Rep. Paul Thissen gives his farewell speech on the floor
The People’s House
Gun Safety Rallies Continue

This week saw two rallies for common-sense gun violence prevention measures. On Wednesday, hundreds of people from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America held their day on the hill, with legislative meetings and a rally in the Capitol Rotunda. The rally was full of energy and gave me hope that we may yet have some movement on common-sense gun safety legislation this year. 

Moms Demand Action Rally

Rep. Fue Lee, Rep. Frank Hornstein and me at the Moms Demand Action Rally

On Friday, as the nation remembers the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting, thousands of Minnesota students walked out and joined a rally at the Capitol calling for gun safety measures. Unfortunately, I was stuck in the Property Tax Division discussing the division report and was unable to join the students. Their voices are an integral part of the movement this year.

Student Rally for Gun Safety Measures 

While Speaker Daudt and legislative Republicans are stopping gun safety measures at every step, there’s still time in the legislative session to get something done. Minnesotans expect us to deliver on common-sense gun safety measures that will make our families, communities, and Minnesota safer.
MPR: Students plan to walk out, rally for gun control

Constituents and Organizations
Meetings with groups and organizations are starting to wane, but e-mails and phone calls are picking up as the session passes its halfway mark. On Monday, I met with folks from Hennepin County to discuss some of the concerns they have for bills moving forward this year. On Tuesday, I attended a program put on by the Mainstreet Small Business Alliance. I was one of the few legislators who attended to hear from over a dozen small business owners about the challenges they face today. Among their concerns were uncertainty around the Federal Tax bill, maintaining access to affordable healthcare for themselves and their employees, and investments in areas of affordable childcare and transit accessibility. 


Mainstreet Small Business Alliance Meeting

I also had a chance to visit with Chelsey Leuschke, a constituent and physician assistant student visiting for their advocacy day. We talked about the educational programs available in Minnesota for Physician Assistants and her plans after graduation. 

Physician Assistant student Chelsey Leuschke

On Wednesday, I met with a group of energetic moms who are asking for common-sense gun safety. They were here for the Moms Demand Action rally and gave me hope for the future. 

West Metro Moms Demand Action visit me in my office

I also had the opportunity to participate in a few “Business Day at the Capitol” events. I sat on a panel regarding local mandates for the MN Chamber along with Senator Jeremy Miller. I talked from the perspective of local control having previously served on the Hopkins City Council for nine years. It is always helpful to have open dialogues; discussion like this lead to better public policy outcomes. After that, I had the chance to sit down with the TwinWest Chamber folks from our local chamber in the western suburbs. Their concerns revolved around tax conformity, investment in transportation and workforce mandates.

On Thursday, I spoke with a group here for United Steelworkers Day on the hill. They are very concerned about any bills that would hinder their right to organize as a union. And, they want to make sure construction projects are using American made steel. Then, I joined a group of folks on the front steps for the OutFront Rally Day. This group has been helping to lead the way on rights for the LGBTQ community. There was a touching moment when clergy in attendance led the group in song but I did not get my phone out fast enough for a video. 

Minority Leader Melissa Hortman speaking at the OutFront Rally

Finally, on Sunday, I had the opportunity to greet my niece’s Girl Scout Troop at the Capitol. A BIG thank you to Erica Brynildson at the House Sergeant’s office for opening up the House Chamber on such a gorgeous day. The girls had some great questions, enjoyed the Minnesota Historical Society Tour and the scavenger hunt. 

My niece, Josie Struyk visiting the Capitol with her Girl Scout Troop


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, but I am always available by email at E-mail is the best way to get in touch with me, you can also contact my office by phone 651-296-9889 if you have an urgent matter or you would like to schedule a meeting.

Also, please mark your calendars for an upcoming SD46 Town Hall on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 hosted by Senator Ron Latz, Rep. Peggy Flanagan and myself. It will be from 6:00– 8:00 p.m. at St. Louis Park City Hall in the Council Chambers. Hope to see you there!

Have a great week!