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

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Legislative Update - May 31, 2019

Friday, May 31, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
Early Saturday morning, my first session and the 2019 legislative session concluded. With a divided government, I’m glad that Governor Walz and legislative leaders reached a bipartisan compromise on a budget framework. We wrapped up our work on a new two-year state budget during a one-day special session required to complete work on these various bills, with assistance from our non-partisan fiscal and research staff and the Revisor’s Office. The House Chairs of conference committees worked to have open public hearings on each of the bills to allow Minnesotans to review and weigh in throughout the last weeks of the session. Separated by a 12 hour difference, the glow of the State Capitol looked different Friday night from Saturday morning.

See below for some final bill highlights!

Coffee with Carlie

There’s plenty to talk about regarding the now-concluded legislative session and the ongoing priorities of our community. I invite you to join me for “Coffee with Carlie” this tomorrow morning. I’ll be at Smith Coffee from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. This is an informal chat; there will be no speeches or program, and you can stay for as long or as little as you’d like. Everyone in the community is welcome. I look forward to hearing your feedback and learning about what’s important to you.


Investments in Education

I’m proud that our budget delivers a much-needed funding boost to schools, with a two percent increase each of the next two years. The budget begins to address the funding shortfall districts face due to special education costs, also known as the special education cross-subsidy, which have never been funded by the federal government at the level promised. Early education priorities like existing voluntary pre-K will continue, as will investments in early learning scholarships to ensure our youngest Minnesotans get off to a great start on a lifetime of learning.
For Eden Prairie Schools, this will result in approximately an additional $1.4 million this coming year and $1.6 million the following year. I was honored to vote yes for this important piece of legislation for the future of our state.


Protecting Health Care Coverage

With a tax cut to the provider tax from 2% to 1.8%, our budget protects health care funding for more than one million Minnesotans. The budget also expands mental health coverage parity, protects dental and vision coverage for low-income Minnesotans, and expands funding for child care assistance, with robust program integrity measures to prevent misuse of funding. Also included is a $100/month increase in the Minnesota Family Investment Program – the first increase of its kind in more than 30 years.
With compromise, each side is required to give a little bit, and as a result, some important proposals didn’t make it into law this year. I’ve heard from many of you that the soaring price of prescription medications is outrageous. While we took action to regulate middlemen known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers, other proposals requiring price transparency and preventing price gouging ran into opposition from Senate leadership and Big Pharma lobbyists. A measure to allow diabetics to access an emergency supply when they can’t afford to fill the prescription, known as the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act, had bipartisan support earlier in the session. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans refused to include this in the final Health and Human Services bill. All Minnesotans deserve affordable, lifesaving prescription medications and I’ll keep working on these solutions.

Economic Security for Families

In our budget, we enacted the strongest protections against wage theft in the nation. Every worker deserves to be paid for every minute they work, and this measure will boost enforcement of wage theft and better hold those guilty accountable. Unfortunately, other ideas to ensure economic security for all families, namely Paid Family & Medical Leave and Earned Sick & Safe time, did not advance this session. As most neighbors are aware, my husband and I adopted our children through the Minnesota foster care system. When they came home last summer, I had the opportunity to use unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act time to spend time with our kids, but I know that too many families can’t afford to spend even two weeks away from work. When families prosper, our communities prosper, and policies like these allow new foster, adoptive or biological parents to spend that critical time with their children.
Please continue to contact me with your input and ideas. I value hearing from you, so don’t hesitate to call or email me. It’s an honor to represent you.
Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn
State Representative