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

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Legislative Weekly Recap February 26-March 4, 2019

Monday, March 4, 2019
Legislative Weekly Recap
February 26-March 4, 2019

Hello Everyone,

While committees are busy hearing bills to meet the first policy deadline, floor sessions are starting to heat up. On Thursday evening, we met until midnight on a concurrence and two bills. We started session at 3:30 p.m. with a simple motion to not concur on a bill coming over from the Senate. The Senate bill would have only allowed the Secretary of State to tap into a small portion of the available Federal funds that are needed to shore up the cyber security around our election system. The House has a bill that would allow access to all of the Federal funds. We then recessed at 7:00 p.m. in order for the House Transportation Committee to meet (see below).

We came back from recess at 9:30 p.m. and debated the two bills until midnight. When we came back we heard HF 861 (Hansen) that makes needed improvements to the state’s licensing and vehicle registration system. It was approved by 89-33 vote. We then debated HF 476 (Stephenson) that would prohibit family exclusions on boat insurance policies or umbrella policies, which was approved by 70-54 vote.

I have a feeling that as we try to move our important budget bills through the process, there will be many more long hours of debate, some of which is merely meant to slow down the process.

Education Policy Committee

This week the House Education Policy Committee, which I chair, was busy with a full slate of bills. We not only met at our regularly scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday time, we added committees on Monday and Friday as well.
We heard a wide range of bills throughout the week, here are some of the highlights. Monday, we discussed numerous bills to address the amount of paperwork our special education teachers deal with every day. Tuesday, we reviewed bills requiring personal finance and additional civics education to be taught in our secondary schools. Wednesday, we discussed a bill to increase the number of teachers of color and indigenous people in our classrooms.

We finished off the week on Friday with Health & Safety in our Schools Day. For five hours we heard bills ranging from the use of sunscreen in our classrooms to measuring for radon. We heard bills regarding training for mental health and increased background checks for teachers. The highlight for me was HF1414(Lippert) to require comprehensive sex education to be taught in our schools. Myself, along with Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (a teacher), Rep. Todd Lippert (a Unitarian Minister), Rep. Alice Mann (family practice doctor), and Rep. Kelly Morrison (an OBGYN) worked together to craft the bill. It would make sure our students receive medically accurate, age appropriate, inclusive and respectful curriculum so that they can make healthy and safe choices. You can read about the bill here and watch the video of the hearing here. Kare11 also covered the hearing here.
Transportation Committee Goes on the Road

On Tuesday, the House Transportation Committee went on the road to North High School in Minneapolis. We heard HF195 (Lee) which would require the Metropolitan Council to use pollution levels to determine what route to upgrade to clean buses first. We also heard HF489 (Dehn) that would require the Metropolitan Council to deliver free bus service on general election days. Over twenty community members testified with a focus on how important it is to have a reliable public transportation system.
Click here to watch a video replay of the Transportation Finance and Policy Division’s Tuesday field hearing in North Minneapolis.

Drivers Licenses for All

In response to a groundswell of Minnesotans and businesses who want to improve public safety and economic opportunity, the House Transportation Committee discussed the “Driver’s Licenses for All” bill. HF 1500, authored by Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, would allow Minnesotans to obtain a driver’s license or Minnesota ID card without demonstrating proof of legal immigration status. All Minnesotans deserve to be able to work, live and take care of their families. Ensuring everyone has access to driver’s licenses will improve public safety by requiring a driver’s test to be passed and insurance to be purchased. It would NOT allow non-citizens to vote. Our immigrant communities are an important part of the economic fabric of Minnesota and deserved to be treated with dignity and respect.

The Committee approved HF 1500 in front of a packed house. Read the Session Daily recap here and watch a replay of the entire public hearing here.
Gun Violence Prevention Passes First House Committee

This week, DFLers on the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Division approved gun violence prevention legislation. HF 8, authored by Rep. Dave Pinto of St. Paul, expands criminal background checks to all gun sales. There amendments made to the bill to accommodate gun transfers to family members and to the permitting process. HF 9, authored by Rep. Ruth Richardson of Mendota Heights, creates a “red flag law”. This law would allow law enforcement officials to temporarily remove firearms from an individual’s possession if a judge determines that they are a danger to themselves or others. The bill also includes due process in the court system for the gun owner.
I stayed late into the evening to watch some of the passionate testimony. The hearing room and an overflow room were packed. You can watch WCCO’s coverage of HF 9 here. MPR has the story on HF 8 here.
New Episode of the Minnesota Values Podcast

Co-hosts Jamie Long and Liz Olson interview Reps. Dave Pinto and Ruth Richardson about last week’s historic votes on gun violence prevention legislation (HFs 8 and 9). Subscribe and listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or

New Economic Forecast

MMB on Thursday announced a revised economic forecast showing a significant reduction in the state’s positive budgetary balance. Minnesota’s budget experts say the balance declined by a third from the previous forecast, released in early December 2018. As a result of a decision made in the early 2000s, state budget forecasts do not include inflationary costs. According to theStar Tribune, inflation is expected to total more than $1 billion over the next two years.

Listen to Speaker Hortman’s reaction to the news here. Majority Leader Winkler’s remarks are here.

Community Conversation & Town Halls

Your thoughts, concerns and ideas are very important to me. I will be hosting my final two Community Conversations in Hopkins and St. Louis Park. I hope to see many of you there!
St. Louis Park Library – 3240 Library Lane, St. Louis Park
  • Saturday, March 9 from 10:30 am – Noon
Hopkins Library – 22 11th Ave. N., Hopkins
  • Tuesday, March 19 from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Constituents and Organizations

This week, I had a few groups and constituents come to visit me. It was a great opportunity to hear thoughts from folks with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the Brain Injury Association, Jewish Children and Family Services/PRISM, the Epilepsy Foundation and ClearWay.
Brain Injury Association
IBEW Constituent
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to speak with an amazing group of students from the Heilicher Jewish Day School. They presented advocacy projects around gun violence prevention, pollinator protection and after school programs. And on Thursday, I met with an impressive group of state officers from Future Farmers of America. They talked of the importance of their program in grooming future leaders in the field of agriculture and technology. We really have a bright future with young leaders like these!
The Heilcher Jewish Day School 
FFA State Board
I look forward to more meetings with constituents as folks attend “Days on the Hill” and start to 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 attend an event, please contact my Committee Legislative Assistant at
I look forward to hearing from you!
Cheryl Youakim