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 Update- April 23, 2021

Friday, April 23, 2021

Rep. Youakim


Dear Neighbors,

After an especially emotional and traumatic week for our state, I hope this update finds you doing okay and staying connected to loved ones.

Tuesday’s guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd is a welcome first step in accountability, but we have a long way to go on the road to justice. Wednesday’s bipartisan passage of a strong public safety and reform budget bill is a renewed commitment to Minnesotans across the state- everyone deserves to be safe in our communities, no exceptions.

The bill will save lives, invest more resources into public safety, and start rebuilding trust between communities and public safety officials. The bill includes the following provisions:

  • Allows local governments to establish civilian oversight councils  
  • Provides funds to enhance training and requires the development of new model policies  
  • Supports community organizations working to prevent crime  
  • Issues body cameras and prohibits altering, destroying, or withholding the footage  
  • Limits the use of no-knock warrants  
  • Strengthens the police officer misconduct database and builds a more effective early warning system to identify officers that may need more training
  • Limits police officers’ authority to stop or detain drivers for minor equipment violations or overdue tabs 

These proposals face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate, where they’ve refused to hold a single hearing on accountability measures this session. We cannot let this week’s verdict be simply a moment that passes us by. We must build a more just, inclusive, and safe Minnesota. 

Here’s a look at the other budget bills we passed this week:

E-12 and Higher Education

Early this week, we passed the House E-12 and Higher Education budgets, which make significant investments in Minnesotans from cradle to career. Our students of all ages have been hit hard over the last year, and they deserve an opportunity to catch up.

The House DFL’s E-12 education budget stabilizes school investments with a 2% per pupil increase each of the next two years and links the formula to inflation to provide schools a more stable funding stream. We prioritize the needs of students by funding more full-service community schools, targeting aid for more rigorous coursework, and provide funds for individualized tutoring, mental health support as well as social emotional learning. The bill also provides strong pathways to postsecondary opportunities. 

In both the E-12 and the Higher ed budget, we fund the Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers Act, that expand legislative efforts to recruit, retain, and support teachers of color and American Indian Teachers. Additionally, the bill contains provisions to improve school environments so that they are more welcoming places for both students and teachers of color. The higher education budget also holds tuition flat at Minnesota State institutions and increases funding to the State Grant Program positively impacting over 75,000 students.

Finally, the budget invests significantly in early care and learning, with nearly $40 million in early learning scholarships directed to the youngest and most vulnerable Minnesotans. The proposal also extends voluntary Pre-Kindergarten programming, otherwise set to expire, for 4,000 of Minnesota’s youngest learners. It establishes a Great Start for All Minnesota Children Task Force to develop a plan that ensures every family has access to high-quality, affordable early care and learning - regardless of race, income, or zip code - and ensure that their teachers and caregivers earn a living wage.





The Energy and Commerce budget were merged and contain several important provisions to help us support pandemic recovery, consumer protection, climate change and equity, and prescription drug affordability. By setting a clean fuel standard, Minnesota can become a leader in reducing transportation emissions. Our bill also provides the tools necessary to employ the technologies that can bring energy efficiency to homes throughout the state.

The commerce portion of the bill aims to halt the rising cases of catalytic converter theft by creating a statewide catalytic converter theft prevention pilot program, ensuring strict guardrails are in place that make it more difficult for bad actors to make a quick profit. In a bold effort to protect Minnesota’s most vulnerable, the Energy and Commerce budget caps predatory payday lending interest rates to 36%. It also provides important new protections for Minnesotans struggling with student debt. These are just the highlights, there are many more provisions included that you may find interesting.



Labor, Industry, Workforce, and Business Development

On Tuesday, the Minnesota House also passed our Labor, Industry, Workforce, and Business Development budget. The bill helps families, workers, and small businesses emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation includes critical investments and protections for Minnesotans’ economic security, like Earned Sick & Safe Time and Paid Family & Medical Leave. Minnesotans should not have to choose between taking care of a loved one, or themselves, in an emergency and a paycheck. We also know that Minnesota’s workers and small businesses have faced extreme adversity this year. The House DFLers are working to provide critical assistance to both in this bill as well as in the Tax bill.



Thursday, we passed our Agriculture budget bill to strengthen farming and food production in Minnesota. The legislation funds the operations of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Board of Animal Health, and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. Importantly, the bill makes new investments in high-speed broadband across the state. This will have a huge impact in helping close the opportunity gap. We know its not enough to simply address the struggles farmers are facing now. House DFLers are investing in opportunities for the next generation of farmers, including those in living urban areas, young people, and BIPOC communities.


Taxes and Property Taxes

Yesterday, the House approved the Tax budget bill to improve fairness and pay for important investments in students, families, and small businesses. The proposal expands the Working Family Tax Credit, establishes conformity on unemployment insurance and PPP loans (up to $350,000 per loan), and provides aid for small businesses that did not receive a PPP loan or did not make a profit in 2020.

To pay for important investments in students, families, and small businesses, the House DFL tax bill creates a new 5th Tier income tax rate of 11.15% on income above $1 million (or $500,000 for single filers) and prevents multinational corporations from sheltering profits in offshore tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. So if you do not make $20,000 a week or use off shore tax havens, this bill will not impact you but will enhance the quality of life for Minnesotans.

In the provisions that the Property Tax Division, which I chair, put together we provide flexibility for our cities and counties with local options sales taxes and TIF, make investments in property tax refunds and renters credit for individuals, and include other provisions that will help increase affordable housing and energy improvement projects and that allow for fire service districts as well as tourism districts. It is well balanced piece of legislation that incorporates both Democrat and Republican bills. Once the Senate Tax bill leaves their floor, we will be headed to conference committee to iron out the differences.



On Thursday, we also passed the  Environment budget bill that contains significant investments to preserve and enhance Minnesota’s water, air, land, and wildlife. Some of these go toward funding for Soil and Water Conservation Districts, cleaning up landfills and other contaminated sites, water monitoring and storage, forest inventory and sustainable forestry, improving soil health, carpet waste reduction, and other important initiatives is included as well. The bill also invests in the popular Lawns to Legumes program, prohibits turtle harvesting, and allows cities to ban pesticides that are lethal to pollinators. In Minnesota, we value our lakes and rivers, our parks and public lands, our clean air and water. But we also know if we don't protect these things, they will be polluted and destroyed. That's why I was proud to support the House DFL Environment and Natural Resources budget.



State Fair Community Vaccination Clinic

The federally supported State Fair Community Vaccination site has expanded opportunities to connect more Minnesotans to COVID-19 vaccines.

The site has now been open for over one week and in that time has vaccinated more than 25,000 Minnesotans with their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Additionally, the State Fair location is vaccinating nearly 300 Minnesotans every hour. They will be offering Pfizer first doses for one more week (through May 3), before the site focuses on second doses.

Minnesotans can call the Minnesota Department of Health’s hotline to schedule appointments directly (833-431-2053) in a multitude of languages, and MDH has ensured a large number of translators are on site daily, with an ADA accessible drive through option, and are offering a free Metro Transit pass to every registrant. Appointments are filling quickly. Sign up now!


Small Business Grants Available

The City of St. Louis Park has provided this updated information you may find useful, or could share with local businesses:

The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) at the Small Business Administration (SBA) was established in March 2021. Through the RRF, restaurants, bars, caterers, bakeries, brewpubs, and other eligible businesses can access funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss, subject to program limits. The SBA is not yet accepting applications for the RRF, but information about eligibility, funding amounts, uses of funds, and a sample application form are available in English at or in Spanish at

Important note: If you are a small business that may be eligible for this fund you should be ready to apply the day it becomes available. Sign up with SBA to receive email alerts as more RRF information is available.

Rental Assistance

For renters and housing providers that continue to struggle during these challenging economic times, new funds are now available to provide assistance. RentHelpMN has opened for applications, making it possible for low- and moderate-income renters to get caught up on overdue rent and utilities dating back to March 13, 2020. It also makes provisions for those at risk of falling behind on rent payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.



Just Deeds

Last month, the City of Hopkins City Council adopted the resolution condemning the use of discriminatory covenants and approved the participation in the Just Deeds coalition. Coalition members provide free legal and title services to help property owners find discriminatory covenants and discharge them from their property titles.

Although covenants are no longer enforceable, the covenants historically resulted in a century of segregated communities. Stifling access to wealth, education, policing, safety, neighborhood parks and public transportation – services other communities take for granted, these impacts continue today. Renouncing the covenants allows us to acknowledge this racist history and pursue reconciliation and anti-racist solutions to mitigate the impact on our community going forward. Learn more at the Coalition’s website by clicking the link above.




Keep in Touch

Please continue to reach out anytime at or 651-296-9889 with questions or input. I am hopeful this will be our last remote legislative session; however, as we currently continue to operate like this for the remainder of session, email is the best way to reach me. Get out and enjoy the nice weather this weekend!

Have a nice weekend!

Be well,


Cheryl Youakim

State Representative