Happy St. Patrick’s Day! The flurry of activity at the Minnesota Legislature continues, as we make meaningful progress to help Minnesotans thrive. Next week will bring the second policy deadline where any bills that just pertain to policy need to have been heard in their final committees. If it is a policy bill that has a fiscal component, it will need to be heard and sent to a finance committee. Next week will also bring the anxiously awaited budget targets. These targets will be used by the House finance committees to put together their finance bills. The deadline for the finance bills to be finalized is April 4th. As the Chair of the House Education Finance Committee, my next two weeks will be VERY busy. Send me positive thoughts and more hours in the day!
While the week was busy with committee work, there was still time to meet with constituents who were visiting for a variety of organizations “Days on the Hill”. I had the opportunity to meet with a few college students visiting during Private Colleges Day. They discussed the importance of the State Grant program to make college more affordable.
In between committee times, I had a chance to meet with a group of school nurses. Our school nurses do incredible work in our schools and need our support with investments in increasing their ranks. Many of our schools share one school nurse within multiple buildings within their district making it hard for them to support our population for our students who have growing complex needs.
On Thursday, I had a wonderful meeting with a group of constituents from Hopkins and Edina during Alzheimer’s Day at the Capitol. Thank you for sharing your personal stories on how Alzheimer’s has affected your family's lives and your support for a public service campaign and respite care.
I also had a chance for a brief walk-and-talk meeting with Carl Holmquist from The Glenn in Hopkins to talk about the dire staffing needs our senior care facilities to have. And finally, a constituent who owns a construction company stopped by to talk about some of the bills moving through the legislature that would make things difficult for him to run his business.
In Education Finance Committee, we heard HF 2497, the Governor and Lt. Governor’s K-12 Education budget proposal, that I am carrying. The bill is built around two major structural investments. The first increase our public school formula aid by 4% in the 2024-2025 biennium and 2% in the 2026-2027 biennium and then indexes the formula to inflation. This would provide our schools stability into the future. The second significant piece works toward closing special education funding shortfalls otherwise known as “cross-subsidies” by increasing state investment from 6.43% to 47.3%. There are many other worthwhile proposals within this legislation, and you can read more about the bill here. Our House Education Finance Committee has also heard many similar proposals as individual bills over the last two months.
The Education Policy Committee was busy wrapping up their work this week. One of the highlights was hearing from Dora Zaidenweber, a 99-year-old St. Louis Park resident and Holocaust survivor who testified in support of legislation to require Holocaust and genocide education in middle and high school social studies curricula. Kare 11 did a story on Ms. Zaidenweber and her incredible journey from Eastern Europe to the United States in 1950.
The Ways and Means Committee met into the evening this week, hearing smaller finance bills that are headed to the House Floor. Our Taxes Committee continues to hear a variety of legislation as they begin to craft their tax bill.
We’re now at the point of session where we are balancing committee work with more frequent floor sessions. This week, we met three times; early on for procedural motions, and on Thursday, to pass important legislation to address housing insecurity.
House File 1440 passed in the Minnesota House on Thursday. It delivers a one-time $50 million investment in emergency rental assistance to the state’s Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program to address skyrocketing evictions and rent increases. This is a step forward to help our neighbors struggling with paying rent.
Through much of the pandemic, federal rental assistance allowed Minnesotans to maintain housing stability. Many of those funds dried up in January of 2022, but the economic challenges facing low-income families did not. As a result, Minnesota experienced a skyrocketing eviction rate last year with more than 20,000 filed. Many counties across the state have seen 100% increase in eviction filings over pre-pandemic levels.
Video of the floor session can be found on the House Public Information YouTube channel.
We also concurred with the Senate on minor language differences in order to fully pass universal school meals for every student in Minnesota. There was also additional money added to stabilize school’s compensatory aid funding streams. I was honored to attend the signing ceremony on Friday at Webster Elementary in Minneapolis.
Enhanced Penalties for Catalytic Converter Theft & Possession
Yesterday, Governor Walz signed into law the bill House and Senate DFL majorities crafted and passed. It increases penalties for the illegal possession and sale of catalytic converters, making it more difficult for people to steal and sell them. You can read more about the new law, which takes effect August 1st of this year, here.
Keep in Touch
Please continue to reach out anytime at email@example.com or 651-296-9889 with questions, input, or suggestions. Email is the quickest way to get in touch. Thank you for the honor of representing our Hopkins, St. Louis Park, and Edina neighbors in the Minnesota House.
Have a safe and festive weekend,