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

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Legislative Weekly Recap- April 2-8, 2019

Monday, April 8, 2019
Legislative Weekly Recap
April 2-8, 2019

Hello Everyone,
Last week, many of the House committees and nonpartisan staff were working long hours to put together their final omnibus bills. And, a big thank you to staff who followed all the changes to language, stuffed packets of information for members and kept our committees running.
This coming week, committees will be finishing up their work on their omnibus bills. On April 12, we will be taking an Easter/Passover break for a week and returning to the Capitol on April 22. When we come back, the omnibus bills will be making their way to the House and Senate floor for votes and then into conference committees where their differences will be hashed out.
On Tuesday evening, I joined Senator Ron Latz in testifying in front of the Pensions Commissions regarding an issue for a constituent that was not given the information required by law when making a decision on a pension plan. The bill would allow our constituent to retroactively buy into a preferred pension plan. The provision was included in the pension bill. Now we will have to wait to hear the fate of the pension bill.
State of the State
My mother, Lynne Funk, joined me at this year’s State of the State Address. It is always a festive occasion with folks entering the chamber with much fanfare. First come the Senate members, the Supreme Court Justices, the Executive Officers followed by the Lt. Governor and Governor.
Governor Walz treated us to a speech filled with the stories of individual Minnesotans. He used these stories to illustrate the need to invest in our health care, transportation and education systems. And even more importantly asked us to write our own story, break the partisan gridlock and move Minnesota forward. My mom said it was a speech that was refreshingly hopeful given the current political climate of our country. The Star Tribune’s coverage of the address is here and you can hear the address here.

Education Finance Committee 
We spent the week hearing testimony on the House Education Finance Division Omnibus bill (HF2400). The bill invests $900 million and would give our schools a much needed transfusion of money. School districts are being crushed by the special education cross-subsidy and have yet to catch up to the cuts from 2003, during the Pawlenty years.
The House DFL legislation includes a 3% increase for schools next year and a 2% increase the year after. It delivers increased money for special education funding to make up for the lack of funding from the federal government. We make an investment in training for our paraprofessionals, as well as training for teachers and staff in mental health, trauma and restorative practices. There are a variety of grants for after school and academic enrichment programs. We also make substantial investments in recruiting and retaining more teachers of color our classrooms. And finally, the bill also includes increased funding for early childhood education as well as a study to figure out the best way to fund programs for our youngest learners.
On the policy side, the finance bill incorporated almost all of the provisions from the Education Policy Committee. To review, the Education Policy bill included provisions that increased training for our teachers and school staff around mental health, suicide prevention, dyslexia and much more. It provides resources to teach comprehensive sexual education and provides student press freedom. It also includes changes to current policies, mostly non-controversial, on how we can best deliver education to our students. There were two provisions that were left out of the final Education Omnibus bill. One that required an extra class of civics to be taught in 11th or 12th grade but it did include increased funding to train teachers in providing civics education. The final bill also left out the required half credit in teaching financial literacy. The Education Omnibus Bill will be up in the House Ways & Means Committee on Monday and the House Tax Committee on Tuesday before heading to the floor.
Transportation Finance Committee
Last week, the House Transportation Finance and Policy Division that I serve on put together a budget bill that makes honest investments to fix our roads, bridges, and transit. The American Society of Civil Engineers rated Minnesota’s roads as “D+” on their most recent infrastructure report card. Bridges received a “C” and transit was awarded a “C-.” A fact sheet with more information about the budget is available for download here.

At a Capitol news conference announcing the budget, Transportation Division Chair Rep. Frank Hornstein of Minneapolis said that the House DFL’s new transportation budget makes tangible, honest investments that will improve the lives of all Minnesotans, no matter where you live or what you look like. “Minnesotans are not well served by driving on roads and bridges that are more than 50 years old. It’s time to be responsible and fix our crumbling infrastructure,” said Hornstein.

Click here to watch a video replay of the full announcement.
  • The cornerstone of the House DFL Majority’s transportation budget is a gas tax increase phased in over four years to pay for honest investments for roads and bridges. At five cents per year over four years, it raises nearly $600 million in Fiscal Years 2020-2021 and $1.1 billion in Fiscal Years 2022-23 in constitutionally-dedicated revenue that cannot be spent on anything else.
  • The House DFL Majority’s transportation budget reverses destructive budgeting, put in place last year, that shifted more than $400 million in general fund dollars meant for schools, health care for seniors and people with disabilities, and other social safety net programs that Minnesotans depend on to live dignified lives. Instead, it raises those revenues honestly. In addition to a gas tax increase phased in over four years, the budget raises approximately $461 million in new revenue through changes in tab fees in Fiscal Years 2020-2021 and more than $650 million in Fiscal Years 2022-23. Minnesotans with older cars will see a reduction in tab fees. The budget also brings the motor vehicle sales tax in line with all other sales taxes (from 6.5% to 6.875%).
And I am proud to say that the bill also prioritizes better access to transit for Minnesotans who need to get to work, school, and other public places. It funds honest investments in transit by raising approximately $400 million in Fiscal Years 2020-2021 from a half-cent metro-wide sales tax increase.
Drivers License for All
Last Friday afternoon, the Minnesota House approved the Driver’s Licenses for All bill (HF 1500). It ensures that everyone has the opportunity to earn a driver’s license, will improve public safety for everyone, grow the state economy, and treat our immigrant communities with dignity and respect. It makes our roads safer by making sure that folks who have a drivers license, are required to know the rules of the road and to purchase insurance. The business community, agricultural community, faith leaders, law enforcement and local government supported its passage.
The Mankato Free Press is out with a new editorial in support of the bill that you can read here. You can also see the coverage from the Star Tribune here. During the debate, the rotunda was filled with folks voicing their support. It was really an amazing sight to see. Many of my colleague shared passionate and personal stories on why they supported the legislation and I was proud to join them in voting yes.
Minnesota Values Podcast
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.

In episode 7, co-hosts Jamie Long and Liz Olson interview Rep. Laurie Halverson about giving every Minnesotan access to Paid Family and Medical Leave (House File 5). Click here to listen. Subscribe and listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or
Constituents and Organizations
On Monday, I attended the bill signing for the “Snow Days” bill. Governor Tim Walz signed the bill with the conference committee members and school employees looking on. It was a great to be a part of the process and is my hope that we will be able to conduct all of our conference committees as such a transparent manner.
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 Asian American Ethnic Council, University of Minnesota Extension, retired educators, Trade Union Day and a large group of constituents who work at Xcel Energy. It is always wonderful to hear from folks who love where they work and enjoy the work they do.
I look forward to more meetings with constituents as folks get more engaged in proposed legislation. 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