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

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Legislative Weekly Recap- March 12-18, 2019

Monday, March 18, 2019
Legislative Weekly Recap
March 12-18, 2019

Hello Everyone,
Another busy week! Friday, March 15 was first deadlines for policy committees and many met until midnight on several nights. I started out the week with a date night with my husband at the Governor’s residence. Governor Tim Walz and First Lady Gwen Walz invited legislators and their families to their home for a social gathering over five different evenings. It is always fun to get together with colleagues in a more informal setting and get a chance to meet their families. And, of course, the first family of Minnesota was gracious and the food was very good.

Monday and Thursday on the House floor, we had some non-controversial bills in addition to a one related to public health. On Monday, we heard a bill to give Minnesotans some emergency relief. Weather-related property losses are making life extremely difficult for Minnesota’s hard-working family farmers right now. When crises occur, our Legislature has a responsibility to extend a helping hand. The Minnesota House unanimously approved new financial assistance for family farmers who are hurting after winter weather destroyed barns, livestock, and equipment. Click here to watch video of Rep. Jeanne Poppe of Austin, Chair of the Agriculture and Food Division, talk about this urgent priority.
On Thursday, with strong bipartisan support, the Minnesota House approved legislation that adds e-cigarettes to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act. House File 349 would prohibit vaping on public transportation, at public meetings, in places of employment, health care facilities and clinics, public schools, state and local government buildings, buildings owned by public colleges and universities, and other facilities. I was proud to support this bill on the floor. On the issue of youth tobacco use, chief sponsor Rep. Laurie Halverson of Eagan says “we’re losing ground for the first time in over 17 years … in helping to keep smoking rates low,” adding that “e-cigarettes are a direct cause.” Click here to watch video of Rep. Halverson speak about the bill prior to the vote. The Pioneer Press has a story about the vote here.
Last week, I also had two public hearings on my own bills as well as finishing up the Education Policy Omnibus Bill and sending it off to the Education Finance Committee (read more below).
On Tuesday, we discussed HF1568 in the Transportation Committee. My bill would simply make the reckless and careless driving statutes apply to light rail operators and bus drivers. It closes a gap in current law that was discovered after Nic Westlake and Neli Petkova were struck by a light rail train on University Avenue that ran a red light. Tragically, Nic Westlake died from his injuries. During the investigation, it was found that the LRT operator was at fault but could not be charged with reckless driving because the state statute only applies to “vehicles”. The definition of “vehicle” specifically excludes “devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.” While the change in this law would not pertain to the driver who killed Nic, Nic’s family hopes that by changing this law that some small good can come of this senseless tragedy. It was humbling to sit at the testifiers table with Nic’s family and I am proud to carry this bill. The bill is now on its way to the Public Safety Committee.
Nic’s brothers Peter and Seth Westlake and a family friend after the bill passed.
On Friday, we discussed HF1582 in the Early Childhood Education Division. This bill makes investments to the Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) provided by the Jewish Children & Family Services. The program delivers service to a child and parent twice a week for two years. PCHP professionals go into families’ homes with a book or a toy every week and coach families in how to connect to their children and play an active part in their education. This particular program has seen incredible evidence-based results for children and their families. Children that participate are 50% more likely to be ready for kindergarten, 50% less likely to be referred to special education services and 30% more likely to graduate from high school. My bill would help this program expand outside the metro area and into St. Cloud. The legislation is being considered for possible inclusion to a broader early childhood education bill.
Education Policy Committee 
Last week our committee completed our work on the Education Policy Ominbus bill. And now, HF1711 is on its way to the Education Finance Committee to be added into their bill. You can see the summary for the bill here.
Included in the bill are provisions regarding reduction in special education paperwork, how teachers are licensed, tweaks to the board that does the licensing, and ways to increase the teachers of color in our classrooms. It also would require increased training for our teachers and school staff around mental health, suicide prevention, dyslexia and much more. Also included are provisions regarding comprehensive sexual education and student press freedom, as well as requiring added credits in civic education and financial literacy. And finally, it included changes to current policies on how we can best deliver education to our students.
My ultimate goal in putting this bill together was to make sure that our schools have the tools to meet our student’s needs. And we all know those needs are great and have changed over time. I also wanted to find balance. The bill is still a work in progress as it is headed on its way to the Education Finance Committee.
Minnesota Values Podcast on HF1
The Minnesota Values Podcast is a new show that takes you behind the scenes at the State Capitol for a conversation about how House DFLers are putting Minnesotans' values into action. Click here to listen to a new episode. This week, co-hosts Jamie Long and Liz Olson interviewed Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn of Eden Prairie. Rep. Koytza-Witthun is the chief sponsor of House File 1 -- the Great Star For All Minnesota Children Act -- the very first of House DFLers’ top 10 priority bills. I am proud to be a co-author on this bill. It makes new investments in early learning, child care, prenatal care, and home visiting. Minnesotans want their children to succeed, and they want the same for their neighbors, friends, and relatives. House File 1 is a reflection of those values. Subscribe and listen to the Minnesota Values Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or at
Community Conversation & Town Halls
I have one more community conversation scheduled before session ends, but I may need to cancel it. We have a Transportation Committee now scheduled for Tuesday evening, March 19. Please stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter to see whether or not it will be canceled. You may also reach out to me via e-mail Tuesday afternoon at to inquire about the status.
Hopkins Library – 22 11th Ave. N., Hopkins
  • Tuesday, March 19 from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm (MAY BE CANCELLED)

Hopkins Royals Win State 
Hopkins Girls Basketball Team won the State Championship Saturday night beating Stillwater 74-45 to win the Class 4A title. The Royals got off to a slow start in the first half and were behind 29-27 going into halftime. As a 21 year Hopkins family, we have been fans of the basketball program for years and know how hard these athletes work on and off the court. It was exciting to watch these two teams battle it out. I grew up in Stillwater, so it was fun to reach out to Rep. Shelly Christensen and make a friendly wager on the game. She will be sending a check to Vail Place in Hopkins with the Royals win. You can read all about the action here.

Constituents and Organizations
Last 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 Association of Builders and Contractors, Disability Services Day, Arts Advocacy Day, Moms Demand Action, National Propane Gas Association, Chiropractic Day and Mental Health Day on the Hill.
I look forward to more meetings with constituents as folks attend “Days on the Hill” and stay engaged. Please feel free to reach out with any questions, issues or concerns through my email at 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