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

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Legislative Weekly Update- May 7-13, 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

It is hard to believe that the last week of session is here and there is still so much work left to be done. By state statute, the Legislature cannot pass any bills after midnight on Sunday, May 20. But, a week can seem like a month in legislative time. I expect full days, late nights and lots of activity.

Last week, the House bonding bill made its debut in committee and will hit the House floor on Monday. Last Wednesday, both the conference committee on the mega-omnibus finance/policy bill and the complicated tax bill began their work. The conference committee for the mega-omnibus finance/policy bill did not get much accomplished beyond a walk-through of what is in both the Senate and the House bills. However, the conference committee on the tax bill meet briefly Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and rolled out a proposed final product on Friday around 5:00 p.m. It is hard to tell if the House and Senate Republicans will try to negotiate with the Governor before they bring a final version of the Tax bill to their respective floors or not. And I cannot even guess at what the plan is for the mega-omnibus finance/policy bill. Only time will tell.

Most of our time last week was also spent on the House floor on individual bills that have made their way through the committee process and to the House floor after having been placed on the General Registry. Once a bill is placed on the General Registry, it can be scheduled for a floor vote by the Rules Committee which is run by the Majority Leader of the House, Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers). You can see the current bills on the General Registry here.

Currently, there are 131 bills on the General Registry. Only 11 of those bills have chief authors that are Democrats. I mention this because while we have 56 Democrats and 77 Republicans in the Minnesota House, I find it disappointing that only 11 bills authored by Democrats have made their way through the committee process. (Note: We are one member shy of 134 with former Rep. Paul Thissen being appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court). Does that mean Democrats have introduced fewer bills? No. In general, Democrats and Republicans are pretty even on number of bills introduced this biennium. Does that mean the bills on the General Registry only have Republican support? No. Many of the bills on the General Registry have Democrats as co-authors. These numbers show how influential holding the majority can be.

Majority members not only run the business on the House floor, they decide what committee a bill will go to once it is introduced. They also decide if a bill will be “calendared” once it has made its way through the committee process. The majority party also decides which of their members chair a committee. Committee chairs decide which bills actually get a hearing in their committee and move forward.

Basically the deck is stacked beyond a “home field advantage”. Just because the deck is stacked, does it have to be hyper-partisan? No. A chair can still decide to move a bill through committee if they believe it is a good idea no matter who the author is. And the Majority Leader can calendar a bill of the opposing party if it has made its way through the committee process. It is all about the choices leadership makes. And the choices this year have led to only 11 bills placed on the General Registry chief authored by Democrats.

Our system is set up for the Legislature to propose and the Governor to dispose. The Legislature can pass a bill but the Governor has to sign it. And, a Governor can have wonderful ideas, but if the Legislature is not “on board”, they will not even introduce the legislation. This all sets the stage for the end game we are in. We have the Governor and DFL legislators wanting emergency funding for our schools, meaningful policies to address elder abuse and opioid addiction, as well as a tax bill that benefits the majority of Minnesotans countering the corporation heavy Federal bill. The Republican led Legislature shares a few of those goals, but has a vastly different approach.

The Legislature and Governor will have to negotiate to find a compromise that can both pass the Legislature and obtain the Governor’s signature. And remember, there is only a finite amount of money to be spent on all of these proposals and bills. For example, if you spend most of the budget surplus on the Tax bill, there will be no money to secure for emergency education funding. Needless to say, there is a lot of work left to be done in just one week.

Government Operations & Elections
On Monday morning, the House Government Operations & Elections Committee met to hear a bill to shore up Minnesota’s pensions (SF 2620). After unanimous passage in the Senate and months of delay, we’re finally seeing progress on legislation in the House. I was happy to support this bill in committee and even happier to finally see progress on this very important piece of legislation that is three years in the making. On Friday, the bill was passed out of the State Government Finance Committee and has one more stop in Ways and Means before it can head to the floor. Public employees — including teachers, police, firefighters, and state workers — deserve the freedom to retire with respect and dignity through the guaranteed pension they have earned.
Ultrasound Bill Passes Off House Floor
A bill (HF 3194) that would require doctors to ask women seeking an abortion if they want to view ultrasound images, was passed off the House floor on Thursday. Patients deserve their doctor’s best medical judgement and advice, not unnecessary requirements mandated by legislators. This anti-choice bill won’t enhance the health or safety of patients, who already have the ability to view an ultrasound. It merely has lawmakers playing doctor and getting in between the serious discussions a doctor has with their patient. I voted no on the bill.
Star Tribune:
Abortion ultrasound bill heads to Gov. Dayton's desk
Wild Rice Sulfate Standards Vetoed
On Wednesday, Governor Dayton vetoed HF 3280, a bill eliminating state maximum sulfate levels in Minnesota’s waters used to produce wild rice. Dayton cited the lack of cooperation to find a compromise and his belief that the legislation violates the Clean Water Act as reasons for his veto. Dayton has urged legislators to find a responsible solution, which respects the federal law, provides needed regulatory certainty, and protects our priceless wild rice and water resources. I voted no on this bill when it left the House floor and no on the final bill that went to the Governor.
Star Tribune: Gov. Mark Dayton vetoes bill that would kill standard designed to protect wild rice
Republicans Go Rogue on UMN Regent
On Thursday, Republicans again ignored a bipartisan panel that vets and recommends regent candidates to the Legislature and didn’t select either candidate put forward. Instead, they chose Randy Simonson, a conservative business owner with staunch anti-choice views, to fill a vacancy on the University of Minnesota's governing board. Playing politics and ignoring the qualified candidates put forward to the Legislature isn’t the way we should chose those who govern the U of M.
I am a U of M alumni, as are many members of my extended family. Two of our three children attend/attended U of M Morris and our oldest will be attending U of M Duluth this fall for medical school. It is an understatement to say that I was disappointed in my Republican colleagues. They chose Randy Simonson over the recommended candidates, Dr. Mary Davenport or Dr. Edward Brooks. Mr. Simonson has publically stated that he wants to limit research at U of M Medical School and discuss closing a campus. It is also worth noting that with the surprise appointment of Mr. Simonson, the Board of Regents is now comprised of 10 men and only 1 woman. This was an orchestrated move by the House and Senate Republicans.

Star Tribune: Legislature picks Randy Simonson as new University of Minnesota regent amid abortion controversy
Conference Committees Meeting
Throughout last week and the upcoming week, you will see postings for conference committee meetings. I discussed the conference committees on the larger omnibus bill and tax bill above. There will also be conference committees meeting on individual bills. When a bill passes the House and the Senate, they are sent to the Revisors Office for comparison. This is to see if the language is identical or not. If the language is different in any way, the bills go to a conference committee where the differences are negotiated. Three to five members of the House and Senate each sit on the committee and come up with a final compromise bill. When that bill comes back to the House and Senate floor, it comes in the form of a conference committee report. This report can only receive a yes or no vote, it cannot be amended. If the bill passes both the House and Senate, it goes to the Governor for his signature or veto.

This week we also got news from the Department of Homeland Security on REAL ID compliance. The federal government has said Minnesotans will be able to use a standard driver’s license or identification card for domestic air travel or access to federal facilities until 2020. Since we passed legislation last year, Minnesota is now on track to start issuing compliant licenses by October 1, 2018, even though the federal government won’t require them until two years later on Oct. 1, 2020. The Minnesota IT office, MN.IT, has hired an outside computer software vendor to help implement the program to process the new identification cards.
Star Tribune
: Minnesota licenses without Real ID good for flights through 2020, state says

The People’s House
Capitol Press Room
Last Tuesday the Capitol Press Corps found a surprise waiting for them in their offices- standing water. A sprinkler head malfunction caused their basement offices to flood. This would be inconvenient for the press any time during the session. But, it really puts a kink into things while they are trying to report on the last two weeks of the legislative session when news can happen even more quickly. I took a quick trip through their offices on Wednesday to see how the drying operation was going.


Capitol Press Room must be dried out
Rallies Continue
As the session comes to a close, many organizations visit the Capitol for a final push of their legislative agenda or just to draw attention to the good work that they do. This week was no different. On Monday, Wilderness Inquiry visited the rotunda and displayed the different programs that they provide. On Tuesday, Homes for All came to push for affordable housing policies and funding for different projects. Homes for All is a coalition of groups that work on providing affordable housing to thousands of Minnesotans.

Homes for All Rally

Wednesday brought a large group from Second Harvest Heartland. They take bulk food donated from places like grocery stores and restaurants and package it for food shelves. They have a distribution center project that they would like to be included in the bonding bill.
Second Harvest Heartland Rally

And on Friday, folks were in the rotunda to rally for the need to fund Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs. I had the pleasure of a surprise visit from ABE teachers in the Minneapolis School District. We talked about the need for adequate funding for and the importance of education beyond the traditional E-12 education system.

Teachers from Minneapolis Adult Basic Education program

Statehood Day
Friday, May 11 was Statehood Day and Minnesota turned 160 years old. As part of the celebration of Statehood Day the “electrolier,” a chandelier with only electric lights, in the Capitol rotunda is lit. It is one of the few times of the year that it is and what a spectacular sight. There were many visitors on hand to see this and to take a tour of the building. During the rest of the year, the Minnesota Historical Society provides free 45 minute tours on the top of every hour starting on the southeast corner of the first floor of the Capitol. You can see the schedule of the tours
here. I encourage you to come for a visit, it really is a spectacular building.

Electrolier lit for Statehood Day

Constituents and Organizations
Meetings with groups and organizations are starting to slow down, but e-mails and phone calls have picked up as we have one week left in the session. On Wednesday, I had the chance to visit with a group of elementary aged students from Hopkins that are home schooled. I asked them what bills they would introduce if anything was possible. There were some fantastic answers, including my favorite which would give drinking fountains the ability to spout lemonade. They also had very astute observations from their historical tour of the building.

Hopkins home school students visit

On Wednesday, I attended an ice cream social put on by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. I spent nine years on the Hopkins City Council and always enjoy having conversations with local elected who are wonderful stewards for their communities. Some of the best public policy ideas come from our city and school board officials.

During the floor session on Thursday, I had a visit from members of Perspectives, Inc. Perspectives is a wonderful organization in St. Louis Park that serves homeless women and children from our entire region by giving them a place to live, therapy for addiction and job training. I am co-authoring a bonding bill with Rep. Peggy Flanagan and Rep. Tony Albright to expand their in-take building to include an early childhood center and more room for programming. Everson Griffen from the Minnesota Vikings was with the group to push for the project to be included in the final bonding bill. Mr. Griffen’s support for Perspectives is welcome and needless to say, there were many photo requests.

Minnesota Viking Everson Griffen visits the Capitol to advocate for the Perspectives, Inc. project.
.Grand Opening of the Artery They have painted murals all over the city and have engaged youth to be part of the process. Many learning experiences are had with paint brush and rollers in hand. Jimmy and Connie are working on a mural on the side of Hance Hardware in Hopkins. You can participate in painting the mural on Saturday, June 2 starting at noon during the. Mentoring Peace Through Art On Saturday, I got a chance to visit with former Hopkins residents Jimmy Longoria and Connie Fulmer. Even though they have moved to Stillwater, they continue to be part of the Hopkins community. Jimmy and Connie have an organization called
Artist Jimmy Longoria 

Some of you may have noticed a large painting in my office as a backdrop to many of the constituent photos I have shared. It is one of Jimmy Longoria's individual paintings and I am very lucky to be hosting it. He has many pieces of artwork scattered throughout the Capitol complex. He personally picked out the piece to host in my office and it is called “Las Mujeres” – the Women. I am grateful for Jimmy’s work with the youth in our community and you can find out more about him and his art here.

Jimmy Longoria piece in my office titled “Las Mujeres”

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 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!