I hope this finds you well and staying warm after our significant snow event over the past couple of days. Thank you to our hardworking MnDOT and city snowplows for all their tireless work clearing the roads.
On Monday, I had the honor of showing part of the Bounds family around the Capitol. Nolan, Trevor, and their Dad, Michael, won a behind-the-scenes tour with me from Tanglen Elementary’s recent silent auction. We spent time on the House floor, visited the third floor and the basement level of the Capitol, as well as some of the areas the Minnesota Historical Society tour does not go. We had a wonderful time and the boys had great questions!
The storm put a pause on committee work Wednesday through Friday to ensure my outstate colleagues could travel to their districts safely. However, we continue to work remotely, crafting bills, connecting with constituents, and participating in remote meetings for the remainder of the week. We still accomplished great work on Monday by passing three significant bills, all of which received bipartisan votes.
Cracking Down on Catalytic Converter Theft
House File 30 seeks to crack down on the theft of catalytic converters by prohibiting anyone from possessing a used, unattached catalytic converter unless the owner has the vehicle identification number (VIN) for the vehicle, and the date the converter was removed from the vehicle. It prohibits the sale and purchase of catalytic converters by anyone other than registered scrap metal dealers, and would impose a fine of up to $10,000 for unlawful possession and sale.
Minnesota ranks in the top five for catalytic cover thefts. In November of 2022, a federal takedown of a catalytic converter theft ring of over a half-billion dollars included more than a dozen search warrants across Minnesota. I was happy to vote in support of this important public safety legislation.
Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls Office
We also passed House File 55, which would create an Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls. Black Minnesotans have told us they experience a lack of urgency from our public institutions when Black women and girls are reported missing. This new office will set strong standards for promptly sending alerts and supporting the community members closest to the pain of not knowing what happened to a missing family member or loved one.
Conversion 'Therapy' Ban
Our last bill on Monday we passed will ban the dangerous and discredited practice of “conversion therapy” for minors and vulnerable adults.
Minnesotans made the brave and courageous decision to share their personal stories with us and their fellow Minnesotans. They’ve also told us that conversion therapy is traumatizing and leads to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and even suicide. Every major professional health organization opposes it, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatry Association.
Our LGBTQ+ youth are precious just the way they are and our policies and legislation should reflect that. Banning the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy will change lives, improve lives, and save lives. You can watch my House Floor remarks here.
In Education Finance, we continue to hear bills that will be considered for inclusion in a final House Education Finance proposal. Our committee meets three days a week and we need to have our proposed bill finalized by the end of March. That leaves us with 10+ hearings left to hear legislative proposals including the Governor’s proposal. We have our work cut out for us.
I had two of my own bills up in the Education Finance Committee this week. They were HF 879 and HF1271 that both deal with school districts local operating revenue funds and increasing the state aid portion of these funds.
Local operating levies are appropriated by a school board and paid for by local property tax payers. State funds provide partial aid to school districts that are deemed “property poor.” For example, some districts have higher property values and when they ask their voters for a $1, they may only have to charge the individual property owners $.75 to get to that $1. Other districts that are property poor may need to charge their individual property owners $1.25 to get to that same $1. State aid makes up some of that cost differential for property poor districts in order to make up for the lower housing values. Both of the bills that I am carrying do something a little different with that equalization level and levy capacity.
In Education Policy, Chair Pryor continues to hear proposed policy changes in the education realm. Some of those policies cost money to implement. The Education Policy bill needs to be wrapped up by the first policy deadline on March 10, so that committee will have a packed agenda over the next two weeks.
I also sit on the House Taxes Committee. This committee continues to look at proposals, but has a later deadline then the rest of our House committees to finish their work. Additionally, I also sit on the Ways and Means Committee in the House. This is the last stop before individual and larger bills that include financing move to the floor. After our April 5 – 10th break, this committee will be seeing bills our various House committees are putting together.
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of constituents focused on making sure Minnesotans have access to reproductive health care. We discussed a package of bills that are currently moving through the legislature.
That evening, I had a chance to meet with school nutritionists across the state at an event they put on for legislators. We discussed school nutrition, the challenges they have with staffing, and the universal meal plan that they support. The school nutritionist organization also brought samples of some of the products they serve their students for us to partake in.
Thursday, I had a chance to meet with a group of constituents who talked about the need for financial literacy to be taught in our K-12 schools. They also discussed the need for increased funding for the Minnesota Council on Economics Education.
Friday, I attended the Municipal Legislative Commission MLC Regional Breakfast. This is an organization of Mayors, Council Members, and city staff from a variety of suburban areas. We had a chance to hear from a panel of experts on public safety that included our very own Edina Police Chief Milburn.
Keep in Touch
Please continue to reach out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-9889 with questions or input. Email is the quickest way to get in touch.
Thank you for the honor of representing our Hopkins, Edina, and St. Louis Park neighbors in the Minnesota House.
Enjoy the weekend!