Friends and neighbors,
Last week, we passed the Protect Reproductive Options Act off the House floor. I’d like to share my gratitude to those of you who have offered support, encouragement, and kind words over the past few weeks as we worked diligently to protect reproductive freedom in Minnesota. I also appreciate those of you who shared your thoughts and concerns. As your representative and a civil servant, I try my best to keep our communication civil and I would ask that you do the same. I believe our community is a better place to live and our government works better when we simply treat each other with respect.
Over the weekend, we reflected on the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. While a solemn milestone, I am committed to ensuring that our reproductive rights are codified into law so that what happened to Roe can’t happen in Minnesota. The PRO Act is headed to the Senate Floor today.
Another priority of mine is to provide Minnesota families the assistance they need when it comes to childcare costs. I chief authored HF 9, known as the Great Start Childcare Tax Credit, and it was heard in the Taxes committee this week. HF 9 would expand Minnesota's existing Child and Dependent Care credit to help families with children five and under deal with rising childcare costs. As a mom of four, I know all too well that until a child turns five and is eligible to begin kindergarten, public investment at either the state or federal level is marginal at best. Temporary programs have provided some assistance over the past few years, but young families are still counting on permanent resources to help Minnesota kids have the great start they deserve.
The bill creates a sliding scale based on the number of young children in a household and income, with the maximum benefit for eligible families capped at $25,000. Currently, the maximum benefit is $6,000. The Minnesota legislature has the opportunity to do what no other state has done – and expand our current dependent care credit into the Great Start Childcare tax credit.
There are two bills making their way through committee hearings, both of which will ensure deserved and necessary time off for Minnesota workers. HF 19, known as “Earned Sick and Safe Time” would guarantee, at a minimum, one hour of paid Earned Sick and Safe Time for every 30 hours worked, with at least 48 hours per year. The House DFL has previously passed this proposal with my support, and I hope this is the year we get it done!
For the third term, I am a co-author of our Paid Family and Medical Leave proposal. Currently, some Minnesotans are eligible for paid family leave through their employer, but many (as was my experience) only receive unpaid leave which makes it extremely difficult to take the time needed to bond with a newborn, foster or adopted child, or care for a terminal loved one. PFML provides financial security so Minnesotans can be with their loved ones during the most joyful and difficult moments of their lives. Once passed, the legislation will provide workers with up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave per year.
DFLers are also working to provide continued free breakfast and lunch to all public school students in Minnesota. This was a program that provided relief to struggling families during the pandemic and knowing that one in six kids in Minnesota struggle with food insecurity, we need to take action. This bill is making its way through committee hearings, and I will update you on this initiative as it progresses.
The last eight years globally have been the hottest on record, and Minnesota is among the top states currently seeing rapid changes to our climate. Scientists know that climate change driven by fossil fuels is impacting our environment, infrastructure, and our health. Minnesota has long been a leader in clean energy, but partisan gridlock in recent years has hindered attempts to combat climate change. DFLers are committed to taking action and just yesterday, we voted to pass the 100% by 2040 bill, a landmark piece of legislation that will help our state address climate change head-on and prepare for a carbon-free future. This would put us on track with over 20 other states that have also adopted similar goals.
While you’re thinking warm thoughts of climate change, start making your spring and summer plans with EP Parks and Rec. Registration opens 7 a.m. Wednesday, March 8. You can preview what's happening this spring and summer at www.edenprairie.org/Recreation.
City Government Academy is a free, six-week program offering Eden Prairie residents a behind-the-scenes look at how their city operates. Each week, a different department is spotlighted while participants tour facilities, meet City staff and learn about municipal government. Application deadline is Friday, March 3.
The Foundation for Eden Prairie Schools 2023 Legacy Award Nominations are open! Nominate an Outstanding District Teacher, Staff Member, Volunteer, or Alumnus/Community Leader before March 3rd at 5pm.
There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon this session, so be sure to follow my Facebook page for timely updates.
Please continue to share your questions, ideas, and feedback with me throughout the legislative session. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-6828. You can contact my new Legislative Assistant, Ella, at 651-296-3918 or via email at email@example.com to set up time to connect at the Capitol or in Eden Prairie.
Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn