Hello from St. Paul,
Last week, we continued to debate various omnibus bills in the House. The Republican majority set a goal of having all of our Omnibus bills completed before Easter and we did just that! I will highlight this week’s outcomes below. But first, I want to say a word about partisanship. You often hear in the news about the partisanship that exists in St. Paul and the further polarization of the two political parties. However, I want to share with you that many bills that pass the Minnesota House of Representatives do so in a very bipartisan manner. As a matter of fact, there have been multiple omnibus bills that were passed this session with broad bipartisan support; including: Agriculture and Public Safety.
Two weeks ago, the House passed the Transportation Finance Omnibus Bill that invests $6 billion over the next decade, with $2 billion being spent in the next two years alone, without raising the gas tax. The bill is funded through bonds and a re-appropriation of auto-related taxes to be spent exclusively on transportation projects.
Some key provisions in the bill that benefit our area:
Additionally, the House passed the Education Finance Omnibus Bill, which increases funding for our students and schools by $1.1 billion, including more than $300 million for early learning programs; $22 million for a targeted academic achievement initiative that funds before school, afterschool, and summer programs to help low-income students who are falling behind; and $40 million for enhanced school readiness aid. These new funding levels will help in closing the achievement gap.
Other highlights include:
Last week, we passed the Agriculture Omnibus Bill. This bill focuses on supporting this important industry by investing in the following priorities:
Job Growth and Energy:
The House also passed the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Omnibus, which provides appropriations for economic development, energy and housing.
A provision that was included in the omnibus bill that I championed, establishes a mechanism for government entities to create Housing Trust Funds, which could be used to support workforce housing, senior housing, or affordable housing.
Other highlights include:
Additionally, the House passed the Higher Education Omnibus Bill which prioritizes college affordability through public school tuition freezes and reductions, accountability through student loan debt counseling (an issue that I advocated for this session), and accessibility to students previously unable to attend higher education programming.
I also carried a bill that addresses the affordability of higher education through establishing workforce development scholarships for students studying advanced manufacturing, health care, agriculture, or information technology at any Minnesota college.
The House also passed the Public Safety Omnibus Bill funding the state’s law enforcement sector and providing Minnesotans with a core function of state government: keeping its citizens safe.
Reforms in the bill include:
These bills will now head to a conference committee with the Senate where the final details will be worked on before heading to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.
Last week, I was visited by superintendents from our district and by Red Wing school board members: Mike Christensen, Heidi Jones, Arlen Diereks, Janie Farrar, and Pam Roe.
I also met with local nurses from Red Wing and Lake City.
If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding anything related to state government, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-8635.
I appreciate your comments and concerns as it helps me be a better representative.
The legislature is in recess this week for Easter/Passover break. I wish you all a blessed and safe holiday and hope you have the chance to spend time with your family and friends.