We’ve known for a long time that while our state’s economy may be recovering, it’s not close to being felt by all Minnesotans. This week’s news that our budget surplus has grown to $9.25 billion shows that we need to double down on our efforts to invest in the working families that are driving our state’s economic recovery, but some of my Republican colleagues would rather focus on cutting taxes for the large corporations that have prospered during the last two years.
The time is now for meaningful investments that lift up all Minnesotans, especially the Black, Indigenous, and communities of color that have too often been put on the back burner when it comes to state funding. It’s time to build a Minnesota where everyone can thrive, and the numbers we received this week prove it’s possible.
You can read more about our new budget surplus here.
Replacing Minnesota’s Lead Pipes
This week in the House Capital Investment Committee, in addition to hearing about individual members’ projects, we also focused on state-wide issues. In addition to Tuesday’s hearing on housing legislation, we set aside committee time on Thursday for in-depth testimony on the impact of our state’s lead service lines, and the need to replace them.
During the State of the Union, President Biden addressed the dire need to replace lead pipes throughout the nation, and Minnesota is no exception. Everyone deserves clean drinking water in their homes and schools, and from the testimony we heard yesterday, it’s clear we need to provide communities across the state with the resources to not only replace lead pipes, but also the tools to adequately map out existing lead service lines.
The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act appropriates a total of $668 million over five years for water infrastructure through PFA State Revolving Funds, including $43.1 million a year for lead service line replacement. An estimated 260,000 or more lead service lines carry drinking water to Minnesotans. Lead is particularly harmful to children, causing reduced IQ, language development and attention span, and increased aggression and impulsivity. In addition, prolonged exposure for both children and adults can damage the brain and nervous system, reduce fertility, and increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and cancer.
With dedicated funds from President Biden and Governor Walz, we need to take advantage of this moment to deliver clean water to our communities. You can read more about our hearing here
The CROWN Act
Our District 59 neighbor, Rep. Esther Agbaje, was the author of a bill we passed off the House floor this week, the CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. For years, people who have faced race-based hair discrimination have challenged instances of being fired from their jobs, having opportunities taken away, or being punished in school for their hair. Cases that have gone to court have not always delivered success, which is why we need to pass this bill into law as a tool to protect people from this type of discrimination.
No one should be discriminated against in the workplace. Voting yes on the CROWN Act this week was easy, and we were able to do it with bipartisan support. Here’s hoping the Republican-controlled Senate can do the same soon. You can read more about this bill here.
Support for Those with Alzheimer’s
On Wednesday, I presented my bill to establish an Alzheimer's public information program in the Health Finance & Policy Committee. This bill will help people across our communities by informing and educating them on the difference between normal cognitive aging and dementia, on stressing the importance of early detection and discussing cognitive health with a healthcare provider, and on the early warning signs of cognitive impairment.
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have been seen to disproportionately impact communities of color, and the first place to start when dealing with this disease is a diagnosis. There is stigma and misunderstanding that exists about dementia, and this legislation takes an important step in helping our communities to overcome this stigma.
The Minnesota Alzheimer’s Association is a fantastic resource for anyone with questions on Alzheimer’s.
If you have any questions about this bill, our committee work, the budget surplus, or anything else, please feel free to reach out. You can reach me at 651-296-4262 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.