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

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Legislative Update- August 20, 2021

Friday, August 20, 2021

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Rep. Youakim

Dear Neighbors,

I hope this finds you well and staying cool! This summer’s been a scorcher and various cities across the state have enacted odd/even watering rules to conserve water amid the ongoing drought. Check out St. Louis Park’s rules here and Hopkins’ rules here.

In my role as chair of the House Property Taxes Committee, I’ve had the opportunity this summer to provide updates to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities regarding Local Government Aid & tax issues. In addition, I've also connected with the League of Minnesota Cities to discuss:

  • Supplemental LGA and expectations for future LGA reform proposals
  • Sales tax exemption simplification for public safety facilities
  • New TNT summary budget information requirement
  • Local sales taxes and changes to the definition of project
  • State-assessed property refund aid.

I'm pleased to share I've been appointed to the Subcommittee on Employment Relations recently, and we held our first meeting yesterday. The Subcommittee is charged with assisting the legislature by providing interim approval of negotiated agreements, arbitration awards, and compensation plans for employees in the executive branch. I’ve also been out and about in the community, connecting with neighbors and volunteering at Perspectives, Inc.


Thank you Hopkins and St. Louis Park for the fun National Night Out events! Great to see neighbors out getting to know each other by sharing food and having conversations.





Thank you Derek Burrows Reise for inviting me to the St. Louis Park Rotary meeting. It is always fun talking with a group of engaged folks about the legislative process!





Thank you for your advocacy, Coalition of Greater MN Cities!


Our work continues at the Capitol. Read more below for an update from the Minnesota Legislature.


Advocating for Frontline Workers 

The Frontline Worker Pay Working Group has met several times this month to listen to frontline workers to determine how to allocate the $250 million the legislature secured to support the essential workers in our communities who face heightened risks of exposure to COVID-19.  The nine-member bipartisan working group is made up of appointments from the House, Senate and Governor’s office. You can learn more about the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group’s progress from Minnesota Public Radio here


New laws

Several new laws took effect on August 1 that:

  • Allows incarcerated Minnesotans who give birth to spend more time with their babies. Under current law, newborns are taken away from their parent after just 48 hours, interrupting critical bonding time and creating unnecessary trauma for both of them. This law permits the Department of Corrections to conditionally release pregnant and postpartum inmates for up to a year.
  • Requires police chiefs to report all disciplinary actions taken against police officers to the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Board. This will help identify patterns of behavior and keep problem officers off the streets.
  • Requires the POST Board to create a list of approved trainers and courses for police officers responding to individuals with a mental illness or Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Improve safety for inmates and staff in local and state jails. The Hardel Sherrell Act, named after a man who died in the Beltrami County Jail in 2018, is the first significant update to health and safety standards for correctional facilities in nearly 50 years.
  • Expands eligibility for housing grants in a natural disaster area to tribes and tribal housing corporations.
  • Requires the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate criminal sexual conduct cases involving members of the Minnesota National Guard. This law will help individuals who experience sexual assault at the hands of another Guard member to get justice.
  • Strengthens protections for renters with service or support animals. For example, one new law prohibits charging additional fees or rent for a service or support animal.

You can view a list of all the laws that took effect August 1 here


Back to School

Our students and families have experienced unimaginable challenges in education over the past year and a half, which is why my House DFL colleagues and I fought hard to secure the largest investment in public schools in 15 years. All our children deserve a quality education and the resources they need to catch up and thrive, especially after an unprecedented global pandemic.

We’re putting our values into action with the measures we prioritized in our state budget this year by securing:

  • The preservation of voluntary Pre-K for over 4,000 students statewide.
  • Historic investments to increase teachers of color and American Indian teachers in our classrooms.
  • Increased investments in summer school programming to make sure our students are ready to hit the ground running.

You can read about more the specific investments we made in our students and families here.

Tax Benefits on School Supplies

As your family prepares for the upcoming academic year, many school supply purchases qualify for K-12 tax benefits to your 2021 Minnesota tax return. Save receipts from these purchases, including distance learning needs, and claim the K-12 Education Credit or Subtraction. You can learn more about these tax returns here. Here are some expenses that qualify for refunds:

  • Paper and notebooks
  • Pens and pencils
  • Rental or purchases of educational equipment, including musical instruments
  • Computer hardware (including hotspots, modems, and routers) and educational software (up to $200 for the subtraction and $200 for the credit)
  • After-school tutoring and educational summer camps taught by a qualified instructor

Masks in Schools

Currently, there is no universal face covering requirement for students in Minnesota public schools. However, in addition to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation, the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Medical Association, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians have also all encouraged and endorsed this policy. My legislative House colleague Dr. Kelly Morrison, who is also a practicing physician, shared her medical opinion regarding a mask policy in schools this fall. 


Following the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for 12-to-15-year-olds in early May, students in these age groups are encouraged to be vaccinated. Vaccines have been proven to be effective, are safe, and the best way we can protect each other; especially children under the age of 12 and those with compromised immune systems as the Delta variant rages on.

The state of Minnesota’s $100 vaccine incentive program has been extended until August 22, and prizes will be awarded in the form of a Visa Gift Card. If you or your child has had your first dose since July 30, you are eligible to participate in this reward program. Please feel free to be in touch with your medical provider with questions about efficacy, safety, and any concerns you have about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Find a nearby location to get your shot here.


Redistricting Process Begins

It’s officially time to start the redistricting process that happens once every ten years. Our goal is to make sure the new maps are fair and reflect the geographic, racial, ethnic, and economic diversity of Minnesota.

Redistricting happens every decade after the U.S. Census is conducted. Legislators use the latest Census data to draw political maps that reflect how the population in Minnesota has changed. That means redrawing the boundaries of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts, 67 state senate districts, and 134 state house districts.  At the end of the process, each one should contain approximately the same amount of people as other districts of its kind.

In the coming weeks, the committee will be hearing from folks from every corner of the state. Residents of our district, the 5th Congressional District, are encouraged to testify next Wednesday, August 25 from 2 to 5 p.m.

If you would like to testify or submit written testimony, please email by 4:00 PM, Tuesday, August 24. Depending on the number who sign up to testify, testimony will be limited to 3-5 minutes/per person. If you have more than 5 minutes of testimony, you may submit additional written comment by the same deadline to supplement oral testimony.



Advancing Racial Equity in Hopkins

The City of Hopkins is seeking applicants to help advance racial equity goals in the Zoning Ordinance Update. I encourage all interested residents to apply for the City’s Zoning Equity Update Committee by contacting PeggySue Imihy at by Friday, September 3.



Hennepin County Offering New Stickers for 

EMS Services

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has launched a new tool designed to help first responders and Hennepin County residents with special needs. The stickers below can be affixed to a home or vehicle to alert police, fire, and paramedics of special circumstances to consider when responding to an emergency.


Due to overwhelming demand, the stickers are available for in-person pickup at the Public Safety Services Division HQ (9401 83rd Avenue North, Brooklyn Park, 55445) and Water Patrol HQ (4141 Shoreline Drive, Spring Park, 55384).

The stickers are available to all Hennepin County residents by filling out the online form here:


Keep in Touch

Please continue to reach out anytime at or 651-296-9889. As remote operations continuing as the Delta variant spreads, email is the quickest way to get in touch.

Thank you for the honor of serving our St. Louis Park and Hopkins residents at the State Capitol.

Have a great weekend!

Be well,


Cheryl Youakim

State Representative