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

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Legislative Weekly Recap- February 9-18, 2019

Monday, February 18, 2019
Legislative Weekly Recap
February 9-18, 2019

Hello Everyone,

Last week the pace of session seemed to double along with the number of bills introduced. If the volume already in the queue is any indicator, the next four weeks before the first policy deadline are going to be extremely busy.

Last week three of my bills received public hearings. On Tuesday in Education Policy, I had HF163 heard. This bill just renumbered an education policy statute. I moved this bill to the General Register as a placeholder for our larger education policy omnibus bill. On Wednesday, I had HF314 heard. It removes the prohibition from schools starting before Labor Day. It would allow locally elected school boards to make that decision. It is supported by the three school board associations and the school administrators. It is opposed by the resort owners and the Minnesota State Fair. We also discussed a bill that would allow an exemption for the next two years to the prohibition, as Labor Day is late both of those years (Sept. 7 and Sept. 6). Since this prohibition was put in place in 1982, there have been exemptions for school construction, late Labor Day starts and for special events.

In the Health & Human Services Finance Committee, I presented my bill (HF230) for the Perspectives Family Center construction project in St. Louis Park. It would expand Perspectives’ ability to deliver services to the mothers and children in their programs. The bill is now on its way to the House Capital Investment Committee for a hearing this Thursday.

Perspectives' team getting ready to testify on their bonding bill.
Bills are starting to receive public hearings in House committees at a rapid pace. You can see the House calendar for the schedule of bills here. I will highlight some of the more interesting bills that are being heard each week but will not continue with the bills heard in each of the committees I sit on. I chair Education Policy and I serve on the Education Finance Committee. I also serve on the Tax Committee and the Transportation Finance & Policy Committee. Let me know if you have any questions about bills going through those specific committees and I would be happy to fill you in.

Improving Accountability at the End of Session
The week began with a rare joint press conference hosted by Governor Tim Walz, Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. The group of the state’s top elected leaders announced three additional deadlines intended to prevent closed-door, behind-the-scenes budget negotiations that are not accessible to members of the public. I heard from many of you at the doors on this issue and am very happy to see our leadership take this step.

“The agreement that we are announcing today puts us on a pathway to have more of the budget conversations in public, and puts us on a pathway to end the session on time with more legislators involved in the bill drafting process,” Speaker Hortman said at the event. Watch the full press conference here and read MPR’s coverage of it here.

Restore the Vote
A large coalition of Minnesotans advocating to automatically restore voting rights for people who have served their sentences visited the Capitol last week. There is a lot of momentum behind the proposal at the Capitol this year, with high-profile supporters such as Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota First Lady Gwen Walz, and Secretary of State Steve Simon. I have supported the legislation for the last few years and do again this year. The legislation (HF 40) is authored by Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL-Minneapolis). Dehn, who himself is an ex-felon, said denying the right to vote unfairly penalizes people battling addictions and communities of color, and runs counter to efforts to reduce recidivism. The House Subcommittee on Elections on Wednesday approved the legislation. Check out the Session Daily recap from the hearing here.

Conversion Therapy Ban
All Minnesotans deserve to be respected for who they are, but currently harmful practices such as “conversion therapy” are still being used on vulnerable children and adults in the LGBTQ community. Conversion therapy often puts individuals at risk for serious harms such as depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Numerous professional medical organizations have noted that conversion therapy lacks scientific credibility and clinical utility.

Rep. Hunter Cantrell of Savage is the chief author of a bill to put an end to these practices. The bill (HF 12), which would prohibit conversion therapy on children or young adults, received its first hearing on Wednesday in Health and Human Services Policy Committee. After hours of testimony, the bill eventually passed through its first committee, being approved by a 10-6 vote. WCCO covered the story here.

Community Conversation & Town Halls
Your thoughts, concerns and ideas are very important to me. I will be hosting three more Community Conversations in Hopkins and St. Louis Park in January thru March. I hope to see many of you there! Please feel free attend any of them.
Hopkins Library – 22 11th Ave. N., Hopkins
  • 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 Monday afternoon, I had the opportunity to have a high school student from Spring Lake Park shadow me. She was with Families, Career & Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). It is an organization that has a long track record of empowering students to be engaged in their community. Ananda Patel, the student who shadowed me, has been very involved in FCCLA and had a lot of great questions about the legislative process.
Ananda Patel with me on the House Floor
Last week, I had a few groups and constituents come to visit me. It was a great opportunity to hear thoughts from the Minnesota Nurses, Minnesota Medical Association, as well as folks here with Protect Minnesota during “Broken Hearts Day”.
Constituents visiting with Protect Minnesota
I had two fantastic opportunities this last weekend to talk with groups. On Saturday, I spoke with a large group of school support specialists attending the SEIU Legislative Assembly. The audience was full of paraprofessionals, front office and lunch room staff, as well as bus drivers. Hearing about the challenges and opportunities facing my fellow paraprofessionals in our schools made me miss working with the kiddos at Aquila Elementary.
SEIU Legislative Assembly
I look forward to more meetings with constituents as folks attend “Days on the Hill” and get engaged with 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