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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL)

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Legislative Update - March 13, 2019

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Dear Neighbors,
Serving our community in Saint Paul is a great honor, and every day, I find inspiration from community members. Many of them travel to the State Capitol to share their hopes, dreams, and challenges. Their stories help in my efforts to work together to build a Minnesota that works better for all of us. I would be glad to have you visit, as well.
In particular, I continue to be impressed with our student leaders in Eden Prairie and across the state. Claire Willett, a junior at Eden Prairie High School, recently spent a week at the Capitol as part of the House High School Page Program. Additionally, two of our Eden Prairie Early Childhood educators recently testified in the Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit with community members who are educators, physicians’ assistants, dentists, pediatricians, transit workers, and those who work in the housing industry.

HF1: The “Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act”
All Minnesota children, no matter their background or where they live in the state, deserve an opportunity to have a great start. I recently presented my bill, HF 1, the “Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act,” to the House Early Childhood Division. The committee focused on the early care and development components of the bill, including the creation of a “Great Start Fund.” We also heard from parents who have benefitted from the state’s prior investments in the Child Care Assistance Program and Early Learning Scholarships.

The “Great Start Act” has already received the support of 30 organizations, including Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota, the Family Partnership, the Minnesota Child Care Association and others. As a parent with three small children, I believe this bill will make much-needed progress for families and children in the state of Minnesota.
Legislature on the Move
The House Jobs/Economic Development and House Early Childhood divisions recently traveled to Saint Cloud for a field hearing. This meeting was the first ever of its kind, and we had an opportunity to examine the roadblocks that greater Minnesota communities have experienced, including the tremendous shortage of Minnesotans working within early childhood education and some strategies we can use to attract and retain quality teachers and other staff in this field. We also had a special early childhood visitor – my oldest son joined us for a “Bring Your Kid to Work Day!”

Angel Investor Tax Credit
Yesterday, the House Jobs and Economic Development Division held a public hearing on my bill, HF 1268, to reestablish our state’s Angel Investor Tax Credit and make it permanent. Minnesota has a thriving tech-sector, but for entrepreneurs, startup capital can be tough to come by. In a state known for innovation, this credit is critical for startups in industries like medical devices, biotech, software, and the web. This bill has tremendous bipartisan and bicameral support. Session Daily discussed the proposal here.
Gun Violence Prevention
All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their communities, whether they are at school, at work, seeing a movie, at concerts, in places of worship, and everywhere else. Two House committees have taken the important step of advancing two bills to help reduce the harm caused by our senseless gun violence epidemic. House File 8 expands criminal background checks for gun sales, closing loopholes exploited by dangerous individuals such as domestic abusers and others who are ineligible from owning firearms. House File 9, also known as the “red flag law,” gives law enforcement officials the ability to temporarily remove firearms from an individual if a judge determines they may be dangerous to themselves or others. Just today, I was visited by a number of constituents as a part of Moms Demand Action Day on the Hill.

Equal Rights Amendment
Women, in Minnesota and across the world, deserve equal rights in all aspects of life and should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their gender. Last Thursday, I was proud to support the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ballot question to let Minnesotans decide whether or not to give everyone full equality under our Constitution. It was especially meaningful to support this legislation prior to International Women’s Day. This bill will now head to the Senate, where the GOP majority will decide whether or not Minnesotans can vote on this in 2020.

Addressing Problems with MNLARS
Many Minnesotans have communicated ongoing difficulties receiving license plates, tabs, and titles in a timely manner. The Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), has had some significant problems and following its passage by the House and Senate, Governor Walz has signed a bill to continue to address these issues. The bill includes funding for IT development, customer service, and updates to comply with the new “Real ID” driver’s license system. There’s more to do, including reimbursing our private deputy registrars for some of their expenses, and Governor Walz has announced a Blue Ribbon Commission on Information Technology to ensure all state IT systems are secure and functional. Minnesotans deserve basic functions, like license tab renewal, to work efficiently. I was pleased to see this bill pass in a bipartisan fashion. 
Please continue to contact me with your input and ideas. I value hearing from you, so please don’t hesitate to call or email me anytime. It’s an honor to represent you.
Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn
State Representative