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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Fue Lee (DFL)

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Legislative Update - May 6, 2019

Monday, May 6, 2019

Education Minnesota Day on the Hill advocating for school funding

Last week the Minnesota House passed six additional budget bills: (1) transportation; (2) public safety and judiciary; (3) higher education; (4) state government; (5) environment and natural resources; and (6) our Legacy budget bill. Legacy funding supports the outdoors and the arts across Minnesota.
We now break into conference committees to reconcile differences between the House and Senate budgets. You can always follow along with the action at the State Capitol here, and see the bills I’ve authored and co-authored here.
The Transportation budget bill makes investments to fix our roads, bridges, and transit. We raise new constitutionally-dedicated revenue to pay for safe, reliable roads, and bridges. A gas tax is phased in over four years and raises new revenue totaling approximately $600 million in FY 2020-2021 and approximately $1.1 billion in FY 2022-2023, all of which will go toward funding our state’s roads, bridges, and transit.
I have a provision in the bill to require the Metropolitan Council to coordinate with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to identify areas with poor air quality to deploy buses with the lowest emissions on the routes serving these areas. Overall, the bill reverses previous decisions to shift more than $400 million out of general fund meant for schools, seniors, and social safety net programs.
You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.
The Public Safety budget bill improves Minnesota’s criminal justice system with reforms that provide a pathway beyond incarceration while ensuring justice for crime victims and holding criminals accountable. Minnesota has the fifth-highest probation rate and has significant regional and racial disparities within our criminal justice system. Our bill reforms probation practices to better serve our communities by capping terms at five years for most crimes, down from the current maximum of 40 years. To address the epidemic of senseless gun violence in our communities, we have common-sense solutions like criminal background checks on all gun sales and extreme risk protection orders to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. The bill also bans private prisons and reforms the way solitary confinement is used.
In the Judiciary portion of the bill, we fund our courts at the level necessary for them to be autonomous from the legislative and executive branch of government, including new investments in public defenders. Excessive fines and fees for traffic tickets and minor violations have criminalized poverty. Through bipartisan reforms, the budget gives judges the ability to waive these in cases of financial hardship, which otherwise can lead to a never-ending cycle of fines, driver’s license suspensions, and consequences like job loss.
You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.
The Higher Education budget bill addresses the student loan debt crisis we have in the state. The budget provides a tuition freeze for students at all of Minnesota’s two and four year public colleges and universities. It also proposes a significant investment to the state grant program, increasing financial support for working families. The bill also improves student support and public safety on campus by prioritizing access to mental health services and legal advocacy support for sexual assault survivors. We also addresses food insecurity among students.
By the numbers: Minnesota State Grant

  • $35.4 million – Total investment in the state grant program
  • 80,000 – Number of students currently in the state grant program
  • $400+/year – The average increase in the amount of grant funding full-time students in the program will see
  • 6,000 – The number of new students who will be eligible for state grant program investment
You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.
The Environment and Natural Resources budget includes funding to protect, restore, and enhance Minnesota’s environment and public health. We provide funding for innovative problem solving actions for some of Minnesota’s most pervasive and complicated environment issues such as emerald ash borer, Chronic Wasting Disease, aquatic invasive species, pollinators, and plastic pollution. Additionally, we protect community’s health and wellbeing around carcinogenic chemical flame-retardant, industrial toxins, provide for lead and asthma screenings, and strive for pollution settlements to benefit the impacted communities. The bill protects our natural resources by protecting statewide soil health, banning ivory trade, protecting turtles, and designating the rusty patched bumble bee as our state bee. Finally, the bill provides for greater access to our great outdoors through our No Child Left Inside provision, creation of the Outdoor Recreation Office, and dedicated off road trails for youth trap shooting.
You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.
The State Government budget secures our elections, funds state agencies, and supports and respects our veterans. We provide funding for the Census 2020 Mobilization program and give Census workers access to multi-unit residential facilities for the purpose of collecting full and accurate census data. Additionally, we appropriate $6.6 million in federal money to Minnesota’s Secretary of State’s office under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) for specific security updates outlined by federal law.
The elections provisions in the bill include automatic voter registration; restoration of voting rights; regulation of electioneering communications to reduce the influence of dark money and improve accountability and transparency; a redistricting advisory commission for after each Census that includes retired judges and members of the public; and removal of the limitation on voter assistance.
The veterans provisions in the bill establish veterans’ restorative justice; streamline the process for disabled veterans applying for a homestead exclusion; and ensure our senior veterans nursing homes are fully funded.
You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.
The Legacy bill funds the outdoors and arts across Minnesota. We appropriate $128 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund “to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests and habitat for fish, game and wildlife.” We also protect our water for drinkable, swimmable, fishable clean water for all Minnesotans.  
You can find the House Public Information Services coverage here.
Please join the Jordan Area Community Council and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity to celebrate the Jordan neighborhood on Saturday, June 1, 2019 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event location is on Russell Ave N between 26th and 29th Ave.
The Jordan Week of Kindness 2019 features:
  • Local food and entertainment
  • Habitat homes open houses and lunch
  • Housing resource fair
  • Free mammograms from Park Nicollet, Blood Lead Testing for Children (Leadie Eddie)
  • Zumba Class with Elite Noir and
  • 30 more organizations

I encourage you to contact me with any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas on any legislative topic. Also, I am available during select hours on Monday and Friday mornings most weeks for in-district meetings, if Northside residents aren’t able to make it to the Capitol. If you would like to send me a message or set up an in-district meeting, you can reach me by phone at 651-296-4262 or by email at I look forward to hearing from you!
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