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

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Legislative Weekly Recap- April 22-26, 2019

Friday, April 26, 2019
Legislative Weekly Recap
April 22-26, 2019

Hello Neighbors,
It has been quite the week here in the Minnesota House. We came back from Easter/Passover recess and dove right back into work. We need to have all of our budget bills off of the House Floor by May 1 and into conference committee with the Senate where the details will be reconciled. On May 6, or before, we will get what are called ‘joint targets’ or a budget blueprint that will lead our negotiations. Conference committees will be made up of five House members and five Senate members. These conference committees will meet from May 6 through May 12 when we have been directed to get a final product completed. Conference committee reports will then go to the House and Senate floor for another vote. A ‘yes’ vote goes to the Governor, a ‘no’ vote sends it back to the conference committee. We are constitutionally required to finish our work by May 20th.

On Tuesday, we discussed and approved both the E-12 Education Omnibus Bill and the Jobs & Energy Omnibus Bill. As the Chair of the House Education Policy Committee, I helped Education Finance Chair Jim Davnie lead the discussion on the floor. There were over 120 amendments to the Education Finance & Policy Omnibus bill and the debate lasted just under 11 hours. We did accept some of the amendments. I spoke to 22+ of those amendments so it was a very busy day. I am so very proud of the bill! We put our money where are mandates are and invest in the future. We are making a down payment on systemic change in our schools so that our children’s zip code will not determine their fate in life. I look forward to bringing this bill into conference committee to continue to push for a bill that ensures our students and schools get the resources that they deserve to succeed. The bill passed with bi-partisan support on a 78-55. Our Education bill wrapped up at 9:45 p.m. and we started to discuss the Jobs & Energy Bill. We adjourned at midnight.

On Wednesday, we continued to debate the Jobs & Energy Omnibus BillThere were over 80 amendments and at times, one amendment had an hour of discussion. Our bill invests in renewable energy, solar and broadband for greater Minnesota. In the Jobs bill we put policies into place to stop wage theft, provide earned paid sick and safe leave, and creates a process for business owners to provide paid family leave in Minnesota. We are helping Minnesotans prosper and take care of each other with this bill. The bill passed 74-59 on party-line vote.

On Wednesday, I also got to take a break and tour my mother’s women’s group from Trinity Church around the Capitol. They had taken one of the amazing History Center tours. I then filled in with a little behind the scenes tour of the third floor and basement remodeling and a quick run through the of the press room.
On Thursday, we took up the Health & Human Services Omnibus BillWe started at 9 a.m. and finished around 7:30 p.m. The Health & Human Services Bill was a lengthy debate mostly focused on continuing the 2% provider fee that funds Minnesota Care, expanding MNCare to more folks with a new program called OneCare and making sure our nursing homes have enough funding to take care of our seniors. We also address the prescription drug prices that are plaguing so many folks. In the bill, we fund the Childcare Assistance Program, the suicide prevention hotline (a bill I carried) and many more proposals that support Minnesotans health and quality of life. The bill passed 74-55.
We started the 
Tax Bill at 9 p.m. I sit on the House Tax Committee and I have to say that this is one of the most progressive and honest tax bills I have seen. All the changes happen in this year, we are not shifting costs into future years for cuts we are making now. Almost every dollar raised in the bill is spent on our K-12 system or in Higher Education. Investment in education is the number one thing I hear about in our communities. The revenue raised in the Tax bill comes mainly from closing corporate tax loopholes and bringing big corporations’ foreign profits back to Minnesota. We level the playing field for working families, senior citizens and farmers. There is $100 million in property tax cuts, 380,000 more Minnesotans will receive the working family tax credit, 56% of senior will not pay one penny of taxes on their social security and 2/3 of tax filers will receive a tax cut. The bill passed 74-55.
On Friday, we started on the Agriculture & Housing Bill at 9 a.m. This bill contains some great provisions for our family farmers and our agricultural sector. There were much fewer amendments on this bill and the debate was much more bi-partisan, which was refreshing. In the housing policy portion of the bill, we deliver some much needed tenant protections. Unfortunately, the budget target for the Housing provisions in this bill was not as large as many of us would have liked to have seen. It is my hope that there is some more investments in the bonding bill for affordable housing. We passed the bill just past noon on a 99-28 bi-partisan vote.
We then rolled into the Transportation Finance & Policy BillMinnesotans expect our roads and bridges to be safe and efficient. But, too many roads are being left unrepaired and bridges are near collapse. That is why our transportation bill invests honestly in transportation to address the long-term safety risk posed by our aging roads and bridges. Our bill also makes an investment in building out a modern transit system through increase to regular route buses, bus rapid transit, and light rail. I sit on the House Transportation Committee and I am proud of the work we have done. We make these investments in an honest way, not by stealing more money from our schools and health care system. There is a $.05 gas tax per year for the next four years, a small increase in the transit tax and some adjustments to motor vehicle taxes that focuses on newer cars. Minnesotans know that you get what you pay for and we see that with all the potholes in our roads right now. We did not finish the bill by our 3 p.m. cut-off time so we will continue it on Monday, April 29 when we come back in session.
On Monday, we will also be taking up the Public Safety & Judiciary Finance & Policy Bill as well as the Higher Education Bill. Then, next Tuesday we will wrap things up with the Environment & Natural Resources Omnibus Bill. Please keep the e-mails, letters and phone calls coming. As we near the end of session, it is always good to hear what your thoughts are as we put the two year state budget together. You can reach me at or 651-296-9889. With the long floor sessions and conference committee, it may take me a little while to get back to you so thank you for your patience.

Have a great weekend!

Cheryl Youakim