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

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Legislative Update- February 4, 2023

Saturday, February 4, 2023
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Dear Neighbors,

I hope this email finds you well.

Thank you to everyone who attended the community conversation last Saturday. It was a cold day, but we had a decent turnout and I’m grateful for those who braved the windchills to share what’s on our neighbors’ minds.

I hope you’ll be able to join Senator Latz, Rep. Kraft, and me for our town hall on Wednesday, February 8 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Louis Park City Hall.


If you can’t make it, I’ll be hosting another community conversation at Hopkins Library on Saturday, February 11 at 10:30 a.m.


The pace at the Capitol continues to move quickly, as committees work efficiently to vet bills and move them to the House Floor.

Here’s a look at what we’re working on and advancing in St. Paul:


Floor Action

Restoring Driving Privileges for our Undocumented Neighbors

All of us deserve to be safe when we’re driving to work, dropping our kids off at school, picking up groceries, or going to the doctor. However, it’s difficult for tens of thousands of Minnesotans to reliably take care of these tasks because they can’t obtain a driver’s license. To help solve this problem, I was honored to vote for “Driver’s Licenses for All” on the House Floor, a bill to restore legal driving privileges for undocumented immigrants in Minnesota. Prior to 2003, proof of citizenship was not required to obtain a driver’s license. Getting more people to pass a driving exam and become licensed ensures that motorists have a common understanding of the rules of the road and can safely operate a vehicle, while also being able to obtain auto insurance, all key steps to improving safety.

Passing this legislation was one of the most powerful moments at the Capitol in recent memory, and while it’s about safety, it’s also about dignity. This bill advancing is a testament to a years-long effort from one of the broadest coalitions imaginable including law enforcement, the business community, the agriculture industry, faith-based organizations, workers’ rights advocates and more. The legislation is currently working through the committee process in the Minnesota Senate.



Establishing Juneteenth as a State Holiday

This week, at the beginning of Black History Month, we passed HF 48, which would recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday aligning with the federal action that was taken last year. Juneteenth commemorates the liberation of African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. By learning from our past we can better address the harmful racial disparities of the present and build a state that is more inclusive and more just.


Restoring Voting Rights 

On Thursday evening, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted to pass HF 28, known as the “Restore the Vote” Act, off the House floor. The bill would restore voting rights to individuals convicted of a felony upon completion of any incarceration imposed and executed by a court for the offense. Voting is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy, and it ensures citizens have a voice in decisions that impact their lives. Twenty-one states automatically restore voting rights after incarceration ends, including red states like North Dakota and blue states like Illinois. This was a good step forward for a more just Minnesota.

Furthermore, restoring voting rights is an equity issue and a racial justice issue. Black Minnesotans account for 20% of those ineligible to vote, but make up just 4% of the state’s voting-age population. Indigenous Minnesotans are less than 1% of the voting-age population but are almost 7% of those ineligible to vote. Hispanic Minnesotans are 2.5% of the voting-age population but 6% of those with voting rights withheld.

People who commit a serious crime should face serious consequences, including incarceration, but we know the vast majority will re-enter society. When people have their voting rights restored, they are more engaged in their community and they are less likely to reoffend.


Committee Action

In our House Education Finance Committee we held a hearing on House File 18, which would fully fund Minnesota’s special education cross-subsidy as well as House File 22 that will tackle the English Language Learner cross-subsidy. House Education Finance also heard House File 21, which would fund full-service community schools. A model that provides funds to school districts to work in partnership with local organizations that could bring in a food shelf, mental health support, or a dental clinic among other supports for students and their families. Along those lines, we also heard House File 8 that would provide funds for our schools to hire more school counselors, psychologist, and school nurses. All of these bills meet our students, and their unique needs, where they are at.

We also heard a bill that would allocate grant funding to school districts, charter schools, or cooperatives to offer high school students emergency medical services courses that prepare students to take the emergency medical technician certification test. This will help us recruit more EMTs; it’s a win-win to address the EMS shortage across the state, and for Minnesotans to ensure they have access to timely emergency services.

I presented a couple of my bills this week as well. The first would allow minors who are 16 or older to consent to receiving nonresidential mental health services. Current law prohibits minor from receiving health services without the consent of a parent or legal guardian. This bill was brought to me by a youth constituent and it’s my second time bringing it forward. I’m hopeful with a trifecta, this may be the year we can expand mental health access not only for those under 16, but for everyone who needs it in our state. The House Health Policy Committee voted to send this bill straight to the House floor. 


I also presented a bill in the Education Policy Committee to ensure paraprofessionals have access to paid training and prep time. Our paras work hard to meet the needs of our kiddos with special needs and learning abilities. I’ll keep advocating for its passage into law. Our paras work hard to meet the needs of our kiddos with special needs and learning abilities. I’ll keep advocating for its passage into law as the bill moves on to the Education Finance Committee. Finally, I heard a bill in the Tax Committee to ask the Department of Revenue to do a study on what changes to policy and funding it would take to allow all Minnesota taxpayers to file their Minnesota income taxes online.



Constituent Visits

This week, I had the opportunity to meet with a constituent from the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association and Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association. Dean Rose of Broadway Liquors shared his support of Minnesota's current smart and balanced alcohol regulations.

On Friday, I started my morning visiting with folks at a group home in Edina run by Mount Olivet Rolling Acres. This organization provides services for adults with disabilities so that they can live independently, and with assistance, in a home-based setting. We discussed the struggles they have with staffing and reimbursement rates so that their residents can live in a dignified, safe, and healthy way.

I also had the opportunity to meet with folks in our community with the organizations of Isaiah and Faith in Minnesota. They have come together to support affordable housing, voter restoration, 100% clean energy, paid family and medical leave, democracy for all, prescription drug affordability and much more. Their advocacy inspires me and I am grateful for their work to get folks involved.


Keep in Touch

Please continue to reach out anytime at or 651-296-9889 with questions or feedback. Email is the quickest way to get in touch. To schedule a meeting, please feel free to reach out to my legislative assistant, Shamat, at

Stay warm and have a great weekend!


Cheryl Youakim
State Representative