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

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Legislative Update: End of Session Recap

Friday, July 16, 2021

Rep. Youakim


Dear Neighbors,

It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through July! I hope this e-update finds you well and enjoying everything Minnesota has to offer in the summertime.

Yesterday, I had the honor of attending a celebratory press conference, highlighting the new Hometown Heroes Program. This program facilitated by the MNFire Initiative will provide for our firefighters critical access to the education, prevention, and care needed to handle a cardiac, emotional trauma or cancer diagnosis. The legislation, the Hometown Heroes Act, is a culmination of years of collaboration and bipartisan advocacy work. It was an honor to carry this legislation and work closely with the firefighters and families who asked for our help. Their stories truly made all the difference in getting this across the finish line.



The special session has concluded at the Capitol, producing a balanced, bipartisan two-year state budget to help Minnesotans recover from the pandemic, and thrive into the future. Here’s an overview of what we accomplished for our communities across the state:



As the House Chair of the Property Tax Division, it was an honor to be a part of the negotiating team that worked to compromise on critically needed support for our workers and businesses. Thanks to President Biden and leadership in Congress, Minnesota received the funding via the American Rescue Plan to both provide targeted tax cuts to workers and small businesses and fund our priorities to build out of the pandemic quickly. For workers who struggled over the past year, our bipartisan Taxes bill exempts pandemic unemployment insurance from state income taxes, and similarly exempts Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds struggling businesses received. In another measure to help frontline workers who have sacrificed their health to keep us safe during the pandemic, the bill has $250 million worth of financial support for these heroes.

There were also pieces in the final tax bill that I had worked on with the city of St. Louis Park. With the city’s advocacy, we were able to pass legislation to allow communities across the state to help businesses and multi-unit housing to include energy improvements in their buildings. I was also able to pass legislation which allows St. Louis Park to participate in a small pilot program that allows cities to transfer excess funds from tax increment financing to their affordable housing trust fund in order to expand access to affordable housing.


Investing in Minnesota Schools  

This session, we delivered the largest investment in public schools in 15 years. Our early childhood – 12 grade education budget increases student funding by 2.45 percent this coming year and another 2 percent the following year. As a member of the House Education Finance Committee, I was pleased with the work we were able to do during session. While the final product was not perfect, funding will go a long way to help our students and our schools deliver quality education to all.

This funding will help our Hopkins and St. Louis Park public schools retain teachers, keep class sizes from growing, and provide academic and emotional support for students who experienced learning disruptions and other challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget also preserves voluntary pre-Kindergarten opportunities, addresses special education and English learner needs, and invests in recruiting and retaining teachers of color and Indigenous teachers. 


Improving Public Safety 

We all deserve to be safe in our homes, schools, workplaces, and communities. The Public Safety and Judiciary budget we approved aims to improve police accountability, support community organizations working to improve safety and prevent violence, and build trust between law enforcement professionals and the people they serve. The bill also addresses economic inequalities in our criminal justice system.  

A few highlights include:

  • Increased services and support for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence
  • Significant reforms to Minnesota’s fines and fees structure, which as it’s set currently, is disproportionally impacting our neighbors of color
  • Updates to the state DWI law by expanding the use of ignition interlock to keep people safe on the road
  • Increased funding for public defenders and court interpreters.

It contains increased funding for Violent Crime Enforcement Teams, additional money for training, and salary increases for state troopers, DNR conservation officers, and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents, so our public safety workers can stay safe on the job as well. The Hometown Heroes Act I mentioned above was included in this portion of the state budget as was a bill I worked on with the Alzheimer’s Association. That provision adds a category regarding those with dementia to the Missing Person Alert as well as funds to increase access for businesses and individuals to sign up to receive the alerts. Learn more about the final Public Safety and Judiciary budget here.


Expanding Access to Affordable Health Care

Our Health and Human Services budget aims to improve Minnesota’s health care system and expand access to affordable care. It invests in our public health infrastructure, strengthens behavioral and mental health services, addresses inequities in maternal and infant health outcomes, increases pay for personal care assistants (PCAs) who help people live independently, and more. You can read more about this area of the budget here.


Protecting Our Environment and Natural Resources  

We all deserve clean air, clean water, and plenty of places and opportunities to spend time outdoors in our great state. The Environment and Natural Resources budget protects humans and wildlife from pollution, harmful chemicals, and other serious threats. It addresses several environmental issues, including chronic wasting disease (CWD) and invasive species like emerald ash borer (EAB), and creates more opportunities for children and teenagers to get outdoors and participate in recreational activities. 


This is only a glimpse into the work we accomplished for Minnesotans at the Capitol this year. House Public Information Services has many resources with other information available here.

New Laws

Three new laws took effect July 1 as a result of legislative action in the regular session. These include changes to the statute governing tax-forfeited land sales, a package of updates to our pension and retirement law, and payments resulting from claims against the state. More information can be found here. Information on other new laws, including those taking effect August 1, and those passed during the special session, can be accessed here.

Main Street Economic Revitalization Program Will Launch Aug. 3 

Yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced the new Main Street Economic Revitalization Program will launch on August 3. As a result of our bipartisan budget, $80 million worth of grants will be offered to partner organizations to establish programs that will fund economic development and redevelopment projects. More information is available here from DEED.

Raspberry Festival

Hopkins’ Raspberry Festival is in full swing! Check out the list of events happening over the weekend here.




Keep in Touch

Thank you for the honor of representing our Hopkins and St. Louis Park neighbors at the State Capitol. Stay tuned for a session wrap-up Town Hall that we will be scheduling. Please continue reaching out at or 651-296-9889 with questions or input anytime. Email is the quickest way to reach me and I’m happy to help provide assistance in any way I can.

Have a great weekend!

Be well,


Cheryl Youakim

State Representative