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

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Legislative Weekly Recap- March 2-8, 2020

Monday, March 9, 2020


Rep. Youakim


Dear Neighbors,

On Friday, the first case of coronavirus in Minnesota was confirmed by state officials and a second case followed on Sunday. I am hearing from many Minnesotans who want to know more about what their state government is doing to address the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory illness often referred to as the Coronavirus. First, I want to assure you that Minnesota is well prepared to effectively respond to an outbreak. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is in constant contact with the Legislature, hospitals, clinics, and providers.

Click here to visit an MDH webpage with specifics about what’s happening. You can watch a March 2 briefing with MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Governor Tim Walz, and legislative leaders from both parties here. On March 4, the House Health and Human Services Division held a public hearing about Minnesota’s preparedness and legislation to appropriate the necessary financial resources. Watch a video replay of the entire meeting here

MDH’s labs are prepared to test patients for the condition. There are basic precautions we can all take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. First thing’s first: wash your hands thoroughly. It may seem like common sense but washing your hands for at least 20 seconds is critical to effectively remove microbiological bacteria. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and be sure to cover your cough with your sleeve or elbow. Lastly, if you’re sick: stay home. I will share updates and news from MDH as I receive them.

Education Symposium begins to tackle racial inequities in Minnesota schools 

Legislators gathered March 6 at the State Office Building for an all-day Education Symposium focused on addressing racial inequities in Minnesota schools. This was organized by our three education committee chairs, myself included, and staff. Together we learned from experts and the people who are most impacted, our students. Every child deserves a world-class education and we need to find effective ways to deliver that. It was a powerful day filled with ideas for community based solutions, inspiration, and hope. Click here to download the agenda and check here in the coming days for a full video replay. 



Laura McClendon from the St. Louis Park School Board attended the symposium


St. Louis Park Superintendent Astein Osei (far right) spoke on a panel of superintendents regarding Reimagine Minnesota

Minnesota House Approves Paid Family and Medical Leave for Everyone

All Minnesotans should have time to care for themselves and their loved ones. We put those values into action on March 5 by passing legislation that gives everyone access to Paid Family and Medical Leave off of the House floor. I was proud to vote yes on creating what will eventually be a self-sustaining program to support Minnesota workers. Now it is time for the Senate to act.

The Paid Family & Medical Leave Act provides Minnesotans with up to 12 weeks of leave to recover from illness, bond with a new baby, or care for a loved one. Workers with qualifying family events and medical conditions could apply for leave to take care of a family member or get medical attention for themselves. They would receive a percentage of their regular wages while on leave.



Apply for a REAL ID as Soon as Possible

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, Minnesotans will not be able to use their standard driver’s license or ID card to board domestic flights or enter certain federal facilities. Instead, Minnesotans will need a REAL ID, enhanced driver’s license or ID card, passport or passport card or another acceptable form of identification for federal purposes.

If you want to receive a REAL ID prior to this deadline, the Department of Public Safety is urging Minnesotans to submit applications no later than June 15, 2020. To save time and make sure you have everything you need before you visit a driver’s license office, you can pre-apply online at Minnesotans who have questions or concerns about the status of their license or ID card can contact DVS at or 651-297-3298. Include your full name and date of birth with your question in the email.



It was a busy week again in committee as we approach the first policy deadline on March 20. In the Education Finance Committee we heard bills to invest in training for trauma informed education, recruiting teachers of color and indigenous, reviewed the Office of the Legislative Auditors report on compensatory aid and a bill to address the same topic. In the Transportation Committee we heard a variety of non-controversial bills including the Minnesota Department of Transportation's technical bill. We also heard a bill to create a fine on people who smoke in a car with children present. In the Tax Committee, we heard bills to address affordable housing, college loans, and a mix of bills to address tax filing issues.


Hopkins students testifying in the Education Policy Committee

Many of my own bills were heard this week. In Taxes I had a bill heard to extend the Historic Tax Credit for remodeling building on the historic registry. In the Education Policy Committee, my bill to fund paid training for paraprofessionals was discussed, as well as the Minnesota Department of Education's technical bill. In the Public Safety Committee a bill I have been working on for six years was heard. It would provide training for first responders on how to approach folks who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, as well as adding them to our missing person alert system. And finally, I had my bill to make technical changes to the Professional Educators Licensing Standards Board heard in Government Operations and Elections. Needless to say, it was a busy week.

Constituent Survey

I hope you’ll take a moment to share your input by taking my short, online legislative survey. I appreciate your feedback, as it helps shape my work for our communities at the Capitol. You can find the link to the survey here.

Constituents and Advocacy Groups

 Last week was a busy one! I met with constituents visiting the Capitol with a variety of groups including the Humane Society, youth lobby day for reproductive rights, MN License Beverage Association, Minnesota School Social Workers, and the Minnesota Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.  I always appreciate the great conversations with folks! 

On Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoon I had my final community conversation with folks at the Hopkins and St. Louis Park libraries. We covered a lot of issues from education policy to the rights of protestors and climate change.



Students from Hopkins Schools visiting advocating for reproductive rights


Constituent visit on school social worker day


Advocates from the Alzheimer’s Association who testified on my bill

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 Committee Legislative Assistant at  I look forward to hearing from you!  

Cheryl Youakim