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

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Legislative Weekly Update- January 27-February 4, 2019

Monday, February 4, 2019
Legislative Weekly Update
January 27-February 4, 2019

Hello Everyone,
Committees started hearing and moving bills through the process this week. With a record of 632 bills introduced in the first three weeks of session, we have our work cut out for us. We are also ahead of schedule with the release of committee deadlines yesterday. Bills that have a policy component need to make it through all of the relevant policy committees in either the House or the Senate by the first policy deadline, March 15. By March 29, those same bills need to make it through the other body to have made second deadline. If a policy bill does not pass those two deadline hurdles, it is no longer viable to move toward passage without an exception from the Rules Committee. And by April 12, a bill that has a price tag will have had to make it through all of the relevant finance divisions and land in the Ways & Means Committee to continue on.
Committees Updates
In the Education Policy Committee on Tuesday, we heard from four different school systems on the innovative ways they are tackling the achievement gap. I was proud to bring in the Superintendent of St. Louis Park Schools to present their program on the use of teacher training programs to deepen teacher racial consciousness. We also heard from Intermediate District 287, St. Cloud Schools and the Prairie Island community.

On Wednesday in Education Policy, we heard from the new Commissioner of the Department of Education Mary Cathryn Ricker. We also had a presentation from a working group that looked at the MCA’s, a student assessment test. And then we heard our first bill HF 125. It gives guidelines to folks who are applying for educational grants from the Department of Education. I laid it over for possible inclusion in a larger Education Policy bill.
Next week, our Tuesday hearing will be entirely on special education. We will go over policy requirements and then hear from administrators and teachers on some of the challenges they face with special education in their schools. And next Wednesday we will have a joint hearing with the Health & Human Services Committee on Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma Informed Schools.
The House Transportation Policy & Finance Committee continued with overviews at both meetings. We heard about the state’s infrastructure report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers and from the Department of Public Safety. We finished out the week hearing from the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
In Education Finance we also heard from the new Education Commissioner and had an overview on special education funding. Chair Jim Davnie brought in a group of school administrators to talk about the funding needs facing their schools because of the strain that the cost of special education is putting on their budgets. The majority of that strain is because the federal government has not delivered on their promise to fund 40% of the cost of special education. In the past few decades they have only met 17% of the need. We also heard HF 207, which deals with the special education funding for the Monticello School District.
In the Tax Committee we had overviews on the Research Tax Credit as well as details on types of Tax Expenditures. We also heard six bills on a variety of subjects. You can see the Tax Committee agendas for those hearings on their committee home page here.
Supporting Minnesota Families
All Minnesotans deserve the opportunity to be successful, but too many have to choose between work and taking care of a new baby or loved one. This is why on Wednesday, the first hearings were held for the Paid Family & Medical Leave Bill. This bill would allow eligible workers to have up to 12 weeks of paid leave from work in order to provide support to their family. The program itself would be modeled after the existing unemployment program. The hearings consisted of many members of the community who have struggled to make ends meet while caring for a loved one. While similar bills were unable to pass in previous sessions, I am hopeful that Minnesota legislators will come together this year to finally make paid family leave a reality.

Gender-Based Violence Prevention Week 
On Tuesday, the Public Safety & Criminal Justice Reform Committee launched the Gender-Based Violence Prevention Week during a press conference to recognize that they would be hearing many bills related to sexual assault and gender-based violence. The bills included: requiring law enforcement to adopt policies on investigations of sexual assault, ending the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women endemic, repeal of the “marital rape” exception, and expanding the definition of criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree to include intentional and nonconsensual touching of the buttock.

These initiatives come partly in response to the Star Tribune’s Denied Justiceseries last year.

Opioid Awareness Day
In 2016, almost 400 people died as a result of opioid overdose, and since then the number has increased at alarming rates. This week we put words to action to address the issue. Wednesday was Opioid Awareness day, and we honored Minnesotans who have struggled with this epidemic by introducing several bills aimed at addiction prevention. First, HF 99 seeks was introduced in committee, which would allocate money to establish an Opioid Overdose Reduction Program. Second, a press conference and hearing were held for HF 400, which would create an Opioid Stewardship Advisory Council.

Watch a clip from the hearing here.

Community Conversation & Town Halls
 I will be hosting four more Community Conversations in Hopkins and St. Louis Park in January through March. Your thoughts and concerns are very important to me and I hope to see many of you there! Please feel free attend any of them.
Hopkins Library – 22 11th Ave. N., Hopkins
  • Tuesday, February 5 from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Tuesday, March 19 from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
St. Louis Park Library – 3240 Library Lane, St. Louis Park
  • Tuesday, February 19 from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Saturday, March 9 from 10:30 am – Noon
Constituents and Organizations
On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to gather with a group of folks to talk about green and environmentally friendly transportation. It was put on by the Sierra Club and Move MN at the Mainstreet Bar and Grill. While it was a freezing cold night, we had a nice turnout and a great conversation!
Organizations are also starting to visit us at the Capitol to advocate for their interests. On Wednesday, I heard from a group of constituents concerned about the freedom to make medical decisions regarding vaccines. I also had a visit from our Hopkins and St. Louis Park Fire Departments. We talked about a bill they are proposing to provide mental health and other support for our on-call firefighters who do not have the same access as other city and state employees.
Thursday evening, my husband and I attended the Hopkins Annual State of the City. It is always a fun event and a creative presentation of what the city has accomplished over the last year. The evening opened with a hip hop/ break dancing demonstration by students from the House of Dance in Hopkins. Then the Mayor and City Council presented what has happened in Hopkins in the format of a Jeopardy game. While I made it for the program, I missed the “Taste of Hopkins” beforehand. This is a chance for Hopkins restaurants to showcase their favorite dishes with samples for folks to enjoy.
Friday, I had the opportunity to tour Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul. They are doing a wonderful job integrating all of their special education students in their classrooms with co-teaching. Their teachers are taking deep dives into data on their students in their personal learning communities. And, they have family resource room where they provide programming, emergency supplies and even cooking lessons. It was a great visit!
On Friday I also met with a group with the MN Smokefree Generation. We talked about the legislation to raise the smoking age to 21 statewide as well as adding vaping to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Act. We also discussed the increase of vaping among students in schools. Below is a sampling of vaping devices that are clearly being marketed to the younger generation.
I look forward to more meetings with constituents as folks start to attend “Days on the Hill” and get engaged in proposed legislation. Please feel free to reach out with any questions, issues or concerns through my email or by phone at 651-296-9889. If you would like to schedule an appointment or invite me to an event, please contact my new Committee Legislative Assistant at
I look forward to hearing from you!
Cheryl Youakim