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

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Legislative Update- October 31, 2023

Tuesday, October 31, 2023
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Dear Neighbors,

I hope this email finds you staying well and enjoying the cooler temperatures and the leaves changing. Fall also brings elections season. Here is your quick reminder that there are local elections coming up on November 7th in many of our communities. You can find out about your local election here.

This fall has also brought devastating news from across the globe, with the terrible loss of life in the Jewish and Palestinian communities. As the conflict in the Middle East grows between Israel and Hamas, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the victims who have lost their lives or those of their loved ones. I pray for those struggling for peace, safety, and the ability to live with dignity in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. I believe that we are at our best when we try to see the humanity in one another. As a state legislature, we do not influence federal policy. But, I personally continue to support peace efforts in the region, a return of hostages, and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.

We've also seen loss of life here with the recent mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine. It's clear that thoughts and prayers are not enough; we need strong public policy to help put an end to senseless gun violence. I'm proud of the work we've done here in Minnesota in passing the Red Flag law and universal criminal background checks, but we still have more work to do.  

As we all follow news around the world and country, I thought I'd give you a local update from the our community and what has been going on in September and October:


Tribal-State Relations Training

Lining up with Indigenous Peoples' Day on Monday October 9, members of the Minnesota House of Representatives, the Minnesota Senate, and folks from state agencies participated in Tribal-State Relations Training on Wednesday, October 11th and Thursday, October 12th. 

The training’s goal was to educate legislators and other attendees – including leadership within the executive branch – about American Indian tribal governments, histories, cultures, and traditions, and to help state leadership work more effectively with tribal governments and American Indians. Attendees learned about the history of federal Indian policy; the unique relationship between tribal, state, and federal governments; ways in which differences can be resolved through understanding, mediation, agreements, and partnerships; issues which the state of Minnesota and the tribes in Minnesota may differ on, and how work of the Legislature interconnects with the tribal nations.

Tribal Relations Training



Driver’s Licenses for All 

On October 1, Driver's License for All went into effect. Not only will this law make it easier for Hopkins, St. Louis Park, and Edina families to navigate every-day life, but it will make our roads safer by discouraging driving without a license or proper insurance.  

The ability to earn a driver’s license was a right previously held by all Minnesotans – regardless of immigration status – until it was removed 20 years ago. Under DFL leadership, restoring the right to earn a driver’s license was one of our top priorities, and we delivered for our neighbors so they can safely pick up their kids from school, buy groceries or medications, get to work, and so much more. I’ve been a longtime supporter of this measure and it’s been rewarding to be a part of the bipartisan coalition that has worked so hard to see this become a reality. More information about how to schedule a written or behind-the-wheel test, including requirements needed, can be found here.



Minnesota Historic Tax Credit

I was also excited to have celebrated the multi-year advocacy effort of the Minnesota Historic tax Credit. As the chief House author of this legislation for many years, the MN HTC program is necessary in the financing of rehabilitating historic buildings across Minnesota. Projects are moving forward that will create new opportunities for housing, entrepreneurship, and tourism, while also creating local jobs and the construction trades.

HTC Rep. Youakim


High School Page Program Seeking Applicants

Applications are open for the High School Page Program with the Minnesota House of Representatives! High School juniors are invited to apply for a weeklong learning opportunity at the state capitol to work directly with state representatives on committees and during proceedings on the House Floor. Applications are due November 22nd. Please feel free to share this with your networks and any high school junior who may be interested in participating. More information, including how to apply, can be found here.


Connected to Community

Hopkins/Minnetonka Fire and Police Chili Cook-Off

I had a wonderful time at the Hopkins/Minnetonka Fire and Police Department chili cook-off last month! Delicious chili, an opportunity to get caught up with friends, and to the ICA food-shelf. Hopkins Fire Department won the local chef’s 1st place award with their brisket chili! 

Chili Cook-Off


Visit to Groves Learning Organization

In September, Rep. Larry Kraft and I visited Groves Learning Organization (formerly Groves Academy) in St. Louis Park. We discussed the investments the legislature delivered via the Read Act, and to see their recent repair to a portion of their building. The Groves Learning Organization has been a leader in working with students in all areas of literacy and those who experience learning challenges. 



Kid Zone Visit

I had the opportunity to tour Kid Zone early childhood center with Director Marcy Dearking and board member Jamie Holm. Kid Zone is a wonderful asset to our community. Thank you for all you do for our kids!

Rep. Youakim at Kid Zone


Visit to Rise on 7 and Rise Early Learning Center

I am very excited for this new addition to St. Louis Park. Common Bond worked with housing advocates and other stakeholders to develop affordable housing on the former Prince of Peace Lutheran Church site just south of Knollwood Mall. They have also partnered with Rise Early Learning Center to create an affordable childcare opportunity to those in the building and the surrounding community. Combining affordable housing with affordable childcare for our families is something that is needed and I would like to see expand across the state.

Rise 7


Normandale Visit

I had the opportunity to visit Normandale Community College and hear about the programs they have in place to increase the number of students going into the teaching profession. College President Dr. Joyce Esther and her team are doing incredible work, especially in the area of increasing future teachers of color and indigenous teachers for our classrooms. 


Speaking to students at the Humphrey and Macalester 

Thank you to former Senator and now Professor Steve Kelley for the invitation to speak to his Education Law and Policy class at the Humphrey Institute on Public Policy. I was joined by former schoolboard member Andrea Cuene. The questions the students asked brings me hope for our future leaders in public policy. 

I would also like to thank Professor Lesley Lavery for inviting me to speak to her class on education politics and policy. I was on a panel with Principal Timothy Williams and Principal Sarah Lightner from two St. Paul Public Schools. Students had thoughtful and provoking questions on school funding and the role of the state and the local elected officials.


Edina Schools Tour

I was excited to recently share the morning with Edina Superintendent Stacie Stanley, School Board Members, the Legislative Action Committee touring Cornelia Elementary, Southview Middle School, and the Edina High School hearing about great initiatives they're working on.

Edina School Visit


Governor Walz visits Eisenhower Elementary

Governor Walz even visited Eisenhower Elementary in Hopkins this year to kick off a statewide tour highlighting investments made in pre-K this past session. Because of increased investments, 9,000 children will attend pre-K that would not have otherwise, saving families money and expanding access to early childhood education. Without this funding, Eisenhower Elementary would have lost many of their pre-k seats.

Governor at school


MyHealth Visit

I also met with the MyHealth student board stuff to learn more about the outreach they are doing with their peers on access to mental health, reducing vaping, and access to reproductive care. MyHealth, which is now located in Hopkins, has been a clinical program that for over 50 years providing comprehensive, preventative, and youth-centered medical care. 

MyHealth visit


Edina Morningside Rotary 

Thank you to the AM Edina Rotary and Peter Williams for the warm welcome late last month! Joseph Haj, the Guthrie’s Artistic Director, was an inspiring speaker who talked about how theater saved his life and how it helps us to interact with the world around us. The arts has the awesome power to bring humanity together. This month, I also attended a meeting where local lawyer and motivational speaker Ellie Krug presented. She spoke very personally about the struggle our transgender community members face when it comes to equal rights in employment, healthcare access, and in many of our communities in general.

rotary photos


Minnesota School Social Workers Association Legislator of the Year Award

Earlier this fall, I was honored to have received the Legislator of the Year Award from the Minnesota School Social Workers Association. This year, in large part due to MSSWA’s advocacy, the legislature was able to expand access to federal funds for our school social workers who are doing incredibly important work with our students. We know students cannot learn if their mental health and physical needs are unmet; I am grateful to have received this distinguished award.

Rep. Youakim at ceremony


Champion of Literacy

I was also honored to have recently been presented a Champion of Literacy Award from the  Reading Center Dyslexia Center. 

A crucial component of our education budget this year was the investment we made in evidence-based literacy programming and dedicated funding for schools to access curriculum and training for their teachers. I thank the Reading Center’s advocacy in helping get this across the finish line for Minnesota students and families. And a special thank you to Rep. Heather Edelson for being a steadfast champion for this important piece of legislation.

Rep. Youakim Literacy Award


Keep in Touch

Please continue to reach out anytime with input, questions, or ideas at or 651-296-9889. Email is the quickest way to get in touch. 

Thank you for the honor of representing our Hopkins, St. Louis Park, and Edina neighbors at the State Capitol.

Have a happy and safe Halloween,

Youakim signature

Cheryl Youakim
State Representative