I hope this finds you well! Things continue to move a quick pace at the Minnesota Legislature, especially with committee deadlines approaching. Deadlines help us narrow down bills and prioritize which ones we will advance.
In between meetings, floor sessions, and committee hearings, I had a chance to speak to a large group of school board members and school administrators visiting the Capitol with the Association of Metropolitan School Districts. These are the folks that help run our schools and center our students in the work that they do.
It was a busy week at the Capitol with many visitors. On Monday, I had the chance to show constituents, and friends, Patrick and Krisch Gambill-Reed around the Capitol. It was a great way to start out the week!
On Wednesday, I had a chance to meet with a group of school board members and administrators from all three of the school districts I represent: Hopkins, St. Louis Park, and Edina. As a bonus, I was able to visit with a group of 9th grade AP government students from Edina interested in learning more about the legislative process. I also had a chance to meet with a constituent visiting for homelessness prevention day at the Capitol.
Thursday, I had a chance to visit with folks from city of St. Louis Park, including a councilmember, the city administrator, and staff. We discussed some of the legislative priorities the city has and, as always, they are laser focused on making our community a healthy and safe place to live, work, and play.
I also had my friend Evan Galchutt spend the day shadowing me at the Capitol. It was great to have him sit in on committees, meetings, and spend time watching the House floor session. We had so much fun I forgot to take a picture!
March is Women's History Month! Let’s use this month to remember and honor all of the amazing women who paved the way for us. There is still a lot of work we need to do to stand up for equal rights in Minnesota and I am committed to pursuing this important work at the Capitol.
Last session, a bipartisan agreement was reached on the framework of legislation to invest in local jobs and projects throughout Minnesota, but like many important proposals, Senate leadership at the time chose to walk away instead of completing this work. Efforts to deliver on that legislation never stopped and now the Minnesota House has taken the first bipartisan step in finishing the business of 2022 by approving nearly $1.9 billion in investments for local jobs and projects throughout the state. It was heartening to see such a large bipartisan vote for a bill that invests in infrastructure and jobs across the state.
In one of the two bonding bills that passed off of the House floors was $1 million in the cash bonding bill for Edina’s regional Public Safety facility for repairs and updates. I was proud to vote yes to send both of the these bonding bills to the Senate floor.
These and other projects are crucial to communities throughout the state, and inflation is only causing them to go up higher in cost the longer we delay. This legislation requires a supermajority to pass, meaning the Senate, like the House, will need Republican support to get this funding over the finish line. I hope you’ll join me in calling on the Senate to swiftly pass this legislation. We need to finish the work of 2022 so we can continue to move on with our bonding bill for 2023.
On Thursday, we passed for the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act, legislation to codify federal standards aimed at preventing the removal of Indigenous children from family members and placing them in systems that perpetuate cycles of harm and trauma. I was glad to support this bill to protect Indigenous children and ensure they continue to have a lifeline to their culture. I would like to thank my colleagues Rep. Heather Keeler, Rep. Alicia Kozlowski, and Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn for their work on this historic piece of legislation.
We also passed a significant bill to protect women in the workplace. HF 1104 builds on the WESA Act (Women’s Economic Security Act) the legislature passed into law in 2014. It makes several improvements to existing sections in employment laws addressing workplace accommodations for nursing and pregnant workers, and Minnesota’s family leave law. On the House floor, I shared my personal story and asked for a no vote on an amendment that would have stripped out the increased protections.
I was also happy to take a final yes vote on the companion Senate bill to thwart catalytic converter theft, and I’m glad it’s on its way to the Governor for his signature.
On Tuesday, my bill was up in the Education Finance Committee to require paraprofessionals to be given paid time or time during the day to review students’ individualized education programs (IEPs) and annual paid orientation or professional development. Our paras work hard to meet students where they are at, and I’ve been carrying this bill for a few years now. I’m hopeful we can get it across the finish line this year.
On Wednesday night, I had a bill heard in the House Health Finance and Policy Committee to allow social workers in our schools to invest in Medical Assistance dollars from our Federal Government when services are provided to those who quality. Currently, we are leaving federal Medical Assistance on the table.
St. Louis Park Social Workers
On Tuesday, in Education Finance, we also heard another bill to provide our paraprofessionals health insurance and increase their wages. On Wednesday, our committee heard a variety of bills to address teacher licensure and find ways to increase our teacher workforce. Then on Friday, we heard a variety of bills to invest in our children’s museums across the state, as well as our student organizations in our schools.
In Education Policy this week, we began the process of rolling out the policy portion of the House’s larger package of education funding. Chair Pryor held various hearings to fully vet all the provisions and hear from Minnesotans on their thoughts. You can read more about the bill here.
On Tuesday in the House Taxes Committee, we heard a variety of bills from a tax credit for solar panels to a tax credit for those obtaining a degree in teaching Special Education. On Thursday, we discussed two bills related to state tax exemption on Social Security benefits. The first, HF 300, would fully exempt all seniors from paying taxes on Social Security. The second bill, HF 1040, exempts the state Social Security tax for folks with adjusted gross income below $80,000 (for married joint returns) or $62,500 (for single or head of household returns) to subtract the full amount of the taxpayer’s taxable Social Security benefits.
Finally, in Ways & Means we heard a bill from Rep. Howard to provide money to organizations that provide services focused on homelessness preventing.
Please continue to reach out anytime at email@example.com or 651-296-9889 with questions or to let me know how I can help. Email is the quickest way to get in touch.
Thank you for the honor of serving our Hopkins, St. Louis Park, and Edina neighborhoods at the State Capitol.
Have a great weekend!