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

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Legislative Weekly Update- April 23-29, 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

Last week, we heard individual bills on the House floor on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, we heard the K-12 Education and Higher Education Omnibus bill. This week we are scheduled for House floor sessions on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but will, more than likely, be having floor sessions on Thursday and Friday as well.Today, we are hearing the Legacy Bill as well as the Tax Bill that was just introduced last week. On Tuesday, we have the Health & Human Services and Transportation Omnibus bills that have been combined, as well as the Public Safety Omnibus bill. From here on out, we will be spending long hours on the House floor and the best way to get ahold of me will be by e-mail.

Government Operations & Elections
On Wednesday, Government Operations and Elections Committee met to hear bills that have not met deadline. Most of the bills we heard were non-controversial and were policy provisions that have been included in other omnibus bills. There was one bill heard, HF 3445 relating to how state agencies have to conduct rulemaking and procedures. Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of time to really hash out the dramatic changes that would be made to the system. Not only did seven state agencies have concerns, but many testifiers came forward from four counties (large and small) as well as the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. This language, along with many other policy provisions, has been included in the State Government Finance Omnibus bill.
Budget Bills Taking Shape
As we approach the final three weeks of session, supplemental budget bills have been passed out of their respective committees and have made their way to the final finance committee stop, Ways and Means. These bills are being combined and the rest of them will be heard on the House floor this week. There are many controversial items moving forward in the Republican budget, despite the Governor’s request to leave the controversial policy out of the supplemental budget bill. With just three weeks left to go, the process should focus on the issues where we agree instead of trying to distract and divide.
You should also know once these budget bills leave the House, they will be combined into one massive omnibus bill with many different issues combined. We saw a glimpse of what this may look like during the marathon 12+ hour Senate floor session on Thursday, as they debated the full range of these bills wrapped into one. This really is a bad way to craft public policy. Not only should policy and budget items be separated, when possible, but I believe that each budget area should also be considered separately.
On Tuesday, we are going to hear an omnibus bill that combines Health & Human Services with Transportation. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Both these areas have their own committees, where members vetted the bills and they should be moving through the process separately. To combine all of these bills into one sets legislative leadership and the Governor into a showdown where policy and budget will be pitted against each other. It does not take a crystal ball to see that the next few weeks will be rocky and end up in back room negotiations with very few people involved.
MPR News: Budget march begins with marathon debates
Constitutional Amendment for Transportation
A proposal to add another dedicated source of funding for transportation passed the Transportation Finance Committee this week. It would place a constitutional amendment question on the ballot for Minnesota voters to consider. If put to voters, the ballot would ask: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to increase funding for roads and bridges by dedicating existing sales tax revenue from the sale of motor vehicle parts?” If the bill (HF 4437) passes the Legislature this year, voters in 2018 would answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to that question. Currently there are seven funding streams dedicated to roads and bridges and a few of those also fund transit. If approved by voters, the amendment would move millions of dollars of general fund money from priorities like education and health care to transportation projects. My main concern is how we backfill the hole in the general fund budget that this will leave. I would love to hear your thoughts about this issue.
The People’s House
Sit-In for Gun Violence Prevention
On Tuesday, Rep. Erin Maye Quade began a 24 hour sit-in on the House floor to share stories of people who have been victims of gun violence and call on the Republican-led House to take action to pass meaningful gun violence prevention legislation. I joined Rep. Maye Quade as well as many of my fellow colleagues, and all but one was from the DFL side of the aisle.


Joining my colleagues at the sit-in on the House floor
During the sit-in, I shared the story of the Accent Signage shooting that occurred on September 27, 2012. It took the lives of six people, including Sami Rahamin’s father, and owner of Accent Signage, Reuven Rahamin. I shared brief details of the victims of the shooting and about the first time I met Sami. He was a senior in high school when he testified in 2013 at hearings at the Capitol to push for common-sense gun violence protection bills. I was so very impressed by his courage, composure and eloquence.
Sami Rahamin with his father Rueven Rahamin
During the sit-in, Protect Minnesota and Mom’s Demand Action held an impromptu rally of support on the Capitol steps. Victims, students and legislators spoke. I shared my voice to the call to action. I hold out some hope that there still may be some movement this year on common sense gun reform.
MinnPost: Rep. Erin Maye Quade starts 24-hour sit-in on Minnesota House floor to protest inaction on gun control

Speaking at the Protect Minnesota/Moms Demand Action Rally on the Capitol steps


House DFLers offer HHS and Transportation Minority Report
In advance of the Health and Human Services and Transportation supplemental budget bill arrival on the House floor on Tuesday, House DFLers presented a minority report — our path forward to the people of Minnesota.
All Minnesotans deserve access to affordable, quality health care, but the House Republican Health and Human Services bill kicks people off of health care. The DFL alternative would have funded the MinnesotaCare Buy-In, repealed for-profit HMOs from operating in Minnesota, ensured women have the right to make their own health decisions, charged the pharmaceutical companies who caused the opioid crisis a penny-a-pill to help fund prevention and treatment, followed recommendations to address elder abuse, and funded measures to improve childcare affordability. In addition, the Transportation portion of the minority report funded a Northstar Commuter rail study, Metro Transit, and other responsible transportation initiatives.
I supported the minority report, but the Republican majority laid the report on the table. The House will vote on the Republican leadership’s HHS and Transportation Omnibus bill on Tuesday.
RELEASE: House DFLers file Health and Human Services minority report
Education Bills Pass House
On Thursday, the House passed a combined E-12 and Higher Education supplemental budget bill. What was notable about the bill was what was NOT in it. There was no funding to address the special education cross-subsidy gap. This is the difference between what the State and Federal Government pay schools for the services they provide our students and the actual cost of that education. This amount has grown drastically over the years and is putting a large strain on our school district’s budget. It is the number one issue that I have heard from our Hopkins and St. Louis Park School Boards that they want to see fixed. The education bill also fails to continue voluntary Pre-K programs for our youngest learners and does nothing to address school safety with measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. And, the Republican bill includes no additional per pupil funding for local schools even though we have a state surplus this year. The bill also included a few controversial policy provisions including a “gag rule” on what teachers can teach in their classrooms.
On the Higher Education front, the Republican leadership’s bill continues to underfund public universities which could result in tuition increases and program cuts. At the beginning of the session, both the University of Minnesota Education system and the Minnesota State University system asked the legislature for $10 million each to shore up their budgets. They received $500,000 and $3 million respectively. This bill did absolutely nothing to help our students with the high tuition that they are facing and the debt they are incurring. On the policy front, it eliminates the Regents Candidate Advisory Council. In essence, it removes the student and public input into the regent selection process and puts it solely in the hands of legislators.
Because of the policy provisions in the bill as well as the lack of funding in a time of surplus, I voted no. While the bill could do more for Minnesota schools and higher education institutions, it passed 94-29 and will go to conference committee where differences will be negotiated with the Senate.
Minnesota Daily: University of Minnesota supplemental budget funding left out of omnibus bills
Constituents and Organizations
Meetings with groups and organizations are starting to wane but e-mails and phone calls continue to pick up as the session passes its halfway mark. On Tuesday, I had a visit from one of my favorite constituents Rebecca Preston. She is a fantastic advocate for the Traumatic Brain Injury Alliance. She tells her very personal story with eloquence and has visited me multiple times over the last four years. Rebecca is very opposed to the new stringent Medical Assistance work requirements in the HHS Omnibus bill and she is recommending an extension of the Traumatic Brain Injury working group.

On the House floor Wednesday, I had the opportunity to speak to students from both Hopkins and St. Louis Park High who were at the Capitol for a Youth Climate Justice Summit. Hearing from students who are so engaged, thoughtful and focused on the future brings me a lot of hope!



Rep. Freiberg and me meeting with students from Hopkins and St. Louis Park


And, 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!

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 

Have a great week!