Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

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

Back to profile

Legislative Weekly Recap- March 19-25, 2019

Monday, March 25, 2019
Legislative Weekly Recap
March 19-25, 2019

Hello Everyone,
It was another busy week as committees prepare for the final policy bill deadline on Friday, March 29th. Last Monday and Thursday on the House floor we discussed various bills, in addition to a few noteworthy ones. You can read about these below.
Last week, four of my own bills received public hearings, three of which were on the same day. On Tuesday, I had a bill up in the Transportation Policy and Finance Division. This bill, HF 1652, includes bond funding for the Metropolitan Council to purchase vehicles to keep their bus and train fleet up to date. It also allows for items like bus stop and shelter improvements. The bill does not allow for expansion of light rail lines.
On Thursday morning, HF 2472 was discussed. This bill gives St. Louis Park an easier mechanism to purchase construction materials, tax exempt, for the rehabilitation of the Westwood Hills Nature Center. I was joined by St. Louis Park city staff who explained the project and what a regional asset it is.

At 9:45 a.m., in the Education Finance Division, we walked through provisions within the Education Policy Omnibus Bill. This bill, HF 1711, is the culmination of two months of work by the House Education Policy Committee that I chair. The bill awaits incorporation into the Education Finance Omnibus bill.
That afternoon, I had HF 1568 up in the Public Safety Policy and Finance Division. This is my bill that would simply make the reckless and careless driving statutes apply to light rail operators. 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. Nic tragically died from his injuries. I had an amendment to fix a clerical error made by the Transportation Committee it had passed through last week. Unfortunately, some of the Republican members of the committee decided to play games with that amendment but I still prevailed. I am proud to say the bill passed the committee with unanimous support and is now headed to the House floor!
Hometown Heroes Press Conference
I joined Senator Steve Cwodzinski, and firefighters from around the state at a press conference to roll out the Hometown Heroes Assistance Program (HF 1782). This is an initiative of MnFIRE, an organization created to keep the health and safety of our firefighters in the spotlight. Our fire fighters face larger incidences of cancer, cardiac issues and mental health challenges than any other profession just from doing their jobs to keep us safe every day.
HF 1782 is a basic step we can take to do just that and it includes:
  • Funding for a statewide “critical care” policy for all Minnesota firefighters which would cover diagnoses of cancer or cardiac issues.
  • An Employee Assistance Program targeting emotional trauma issues unique to the fire service.
  • Ongoing annual awareness training for our firefighters on cancer, emotional trauma and cardiac care as well as awareness training for our medical and mental health professionals.
You can see the press conference here and see news coverage of it onKARE11 and Fox9.

Education Policy Committee 
This week on Wednesday, we will have our last hearing for the session. The Department of Human Rights is scheduled to provide an overview of their work on the inequities of student suspensions in our schools. Then we will hear testimony from a few school districts that are seeing improvement in closing the gap on suspensions, as well as hear from some parents. I am looking forward to a fruitful discussion to lay the groundwork for good policy next session.
Saving Lives by Stopping Distracted Driving
Minnesotans deserve to be safe on our roads. We want our friends, neighbors, and relatives to be safe, too. That’s why on Monday, March 18th the Minnesota House approved the hands-free cellphone bill (House File 50). I was happy to vote in the affirmative. This legislation requires Minnesotans to use their cellphones in a hands-free mode while on the road. There are exceptions for emergencies and one-touch activation functions.
Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia have hands-free cellphone laws. According to WCCO’s latest Reality Check, crashes and fatalities on the road decrease when states have hands-free cellphone laws on the books. KARE11 has the story about the vote on HF 50 here.
Protecting Minnesotans from Sexual Harassment
More than 80 percent of women report being sexually harassed in the workplace. This is completely unacceptable. All Minnesotans deserve to live and work in an environment that is free from sexual harassment, and all Minnesotans expect to be treated with respect and dignity.
On March 21st, the Minnesota House approved House File 10, one of the DFL Minnesota Values Plan top 10 priority bills of the session and the first to receive approval from the entire House. I was proud to join the majority in voting yes. MPR has a story about the vote here, and a story with more background here.

HF 10 improves the ability of victims and survivors of sexual harassment to seek justice. Chief sponsor Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL - of Shoreview), a prosecutor for Hennepin County, speaks often about the individuals who inspired this piece of legislation. Click here to watch Rep. Moller’s speech prior to the vote about a Minnesotan who is courageously telling her story in hopes that no one else has to experience the same harassment she did.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic and Holding Big Pharma Accountable
In 2017, more than 400 Minnesotans died as a result of opioid overdoses. More than 2,000 visits to emergency rooms for opioid-involved overdoses occurred the same year. The rate of opioid-related overdose deaths has steadily increased each year since 2010. In response to heartbreaking personal stories that House DFLers heard from Minnesotans and public safety leaders throughout our state, we voted on March 18th for legislation to hold pharmaceutical corporations accountable for their role in creating this crisis. The Associated Press has a story about the vote here.
Big Pharma has collected billions in profits over the years and has not had to pay a dime to help Minnesotans get treatment or help law enforcement keep our communities safe. House File 400 creates an opioid stewardship council to collect $20 million annually from pharmaceutical corporations to invest it in prevention, treatment, and education. Chief author Rep. Liz Olson (DFL – Duluth) delivered powerful remarks about this priority in a speech prior to the vote that you can watch here. I am happy to report that this was a bipartisan vote, including my yes vote, and would like to thank Rep. Dave Baker (GOP – Willmar) for his work to convince some of his colleagues to join us in voting yes.
Minnesota Values Podcast on Wage Theft
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. This week, co-hosts Jamie Long and Liz Olson interviewed Rep. John Lesch of St. Paul about addressing prescription drug price-gouging and giving every Minnesotan access to earned sick and safe time. Click here to listen to the entire episode. Short on time? Listen to a brief clip here. Subscribe and listen to the Minnesota Values Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or
Community Conversation & Town Halls
Unfortunately, I had to cancel my final Community Conversation last Tuesday evening. I had a late night hearing scheduled, in addition to other work related obligations. I appreciate those who came to both the Hopkins and St. Louis Park libraries over the last few months to share their thoughts. Stay tuned for a date for a Session Wrap-Up Town Hall with myself, Senator Ron Latz, and Representative Ryan Winkler. I am also thinking of hosting a few Community Conversations at the end of May and the beginning of June. Let me know if that is something you are interested in.

Hopkins Royals Win State 
On Saturday, the Hopkins Boys basketball team won the State Championship beating Lakeville North 54-40 to win the Class 4A title. The Royals got off to a slow start but broke away in the second half. 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. And even more fun to know that they join the Girls team who won the Girls State 4A Championship last Saturday! You can read all about the action here.
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 Habitat for Humanity, SEIU and students from St. Louis Park High School here with OutFront.
I look forward to more meetings with constituents as folks attend “Days on the Hill” and stay 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 at
I look forward to hearing from you!
Cheryl Youakim