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Legislative Weekly Recap- March 5-11, 2019

Monday, March 11, 2019
Legislative Weekly Recap
March 5-11, 2019

Hello Everyone,
What a week! Committees are working at a frantic pace to meet the first policy deadline which is this Friday, March 15. First policy deadline means that a bill has to be heard in all of the appropriate policy committees in either the House or the Senate to remain alive for the session. Many of the policy committees, including mine, will have to pass out of committee their omnibus policy bills before that date as well.
On Monday, the notable bills heard made improvements to MNLARS (the vehicle registration system) and a fix to the bonding bill that passed last year. Governor Tim Walz has already signed both into law. On Thursday, we discussed a bill that would put on the ballot an amendment to the constitution regarding equal rights for all genders. You can see the full story below.
Last week, I had eight bills up in various committees including in the Education Policy, Commerce, Health & Human Services and Government Operations. The bills ranged from funding for statewide suicide prevention hotlines to small changes to the Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB). One of the bills that I was proud to carry requires 16 hours of training for the paraprofessionals in our classrooms. As a paraprofessional, I know personally how important training around intervention and restorative practices is, as well as making sure that the training is trauma informed.

With my fellow paraprofessionals
I also had the opportunity to hear two bills that I have been working on for over three years and are very personal to me. One bill was brought to me by a constituent, Kathryn Newcomb, whose husband was injured in a motorcycle accident. It will require motorcyclists to carry uninsured/underinsured motorcycle insurance. It passed out of the House Commerce Committee and is headed to the House floor. Now we just need to get a hearing in the Senate.
With Kathryn Newcomb after the bill passed the House Commerce Committee
I also finally had the opportunity to have a hearing on the Student Press Freedom bill. Our Journalism teachers from St. Louis Park and Hopkins, Laurie Keekly and Jeff Kocur, brought me this bill back in 2015 and we have been working on it ever since. It was an easy bill to get excited about because of the many energetic students who support it and having been a student journalist myself. After a little more than an hour of testimony and questions we passed the bill to the House floor. Now it awaits action in the Senate.
Group of students and teachers who came to the House to speak and listen to the testimony
All of this was taking place while I was putting together our Education Policy Omnibus bill that you can read about below. This coming week is shaping up to be just as busy and exciting.

Education Policy Committee 
Last week was one of the last of our House Education Policy Committees where we will hear individual policy bills. We may hear a few policy bills during second deadline, but the majority of our policy work is done. It was a busy week as we heard 19 bills including the Governor’s education policy bill.
We discussed bills regarding special education paperwork, how teachers are licensed, tweaks to the board that does the licensing and ways to increase the teachers of color in the classroom. We heard bills that would require increased training for our teachers and school staff around mental health, suicide prevention, dyslexia, epilepsy and much more. We also heard bills regarding comprehensive sexual education and student press freedom as well as requiring added credits in civic education and financial literacy. We also heard changes to current policies, mostly non-controversial, on how we deliver education to our students. There were robust discussions had and while we didn’t always agree, it was respectful and allowed many voices to come to the table.
At the end of the week, I rolled out the Education Policy Omnibus Bill composed of many of the bills we have heard in committee. Starting on Monday, we will walk through the bill and start taking testimony from the public. On Wednesday & Thursday, members will be able to offer amendments. And by the end of the week, we should be voting on the omnibus bill and sending it on to the Education Finance Committee. It is there where, it is my hope, the majority of it will be included in a full Education Finance & Policy Omnibus bill. So, the hard work is not quite done yet.
“Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act” Receives Approval at First Public Hearing
Minnesotans want their children to get a great start, and they want the same for their neighbors' children. House DFLers are committed to putting Minnesotans' values into action with legislation like House File 1 -- the Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act -- the very first of our top 10 priority bills. It makes new investments in early learning, child care, prenatal care, and home visiting. I am proud to be one of the co-authors on this bill.
Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn of Eden Prairie is the chief author of HF 1, which received its first public hearing on Thursday, March 7. The Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division listened to public testimony about the bill, which will continue moving through the legislative process. More than 30 leading community organizations
 are standing with House DFLers to support this priority.

KSTP covered the March 7 hearing here.
Minnesota House Passes the ERA Amendment
Minnesota women deserve equal rights in all aspects of life. All Minnesotans should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of gender. House DFLers on Thursday, March 7 approved the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ballot question to let Minnesotans decide whether or not to give everyone full equality under our Constitution. The Republican-controlled Senate is now responsible for determining whether voters will have that opportunity in 2020.
The Star Tribune covered the historic vote
 hereWatch chief author Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein’s closing speech here.
Community Conversation & Town Halls
Thank you for the folks that showed up to my Saturday Community Conversation at St. Louis Park. After a brief legislative update the conversation revolved around the ERA amendment, shared parenting, rank choice voting and the legislative process. I have one more community conversation before session ends. I hope to see you there!
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 here with the Minnesota Realtors, Physician Assistants, Deaf/Blind Association, PACER, Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance and a few constituents regarding military recruiters in our schools.
Organization for the Deaf and Blind
Traumatic Brain Injury Association
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 an event, please contact my Committee Legislative Assistant
I look forward to hearing from you!
Cheryl Youakim