Friends and neighbors,
Can you believe we’re almost to the end of March? Spring has “officially” sprung but from the looks of it, the snow is going to hang around for while. I’m incredibly excited to share our progress with you – so excited that we’re holding a town hall!
Join me, Rep. Laurie Pryor of Minnetonka, Rep. Lucy Rehm of Chanhassen, and our State Sen. Steve Cwodzinski for a Town Hall meeting on April 15 at 10:00 a.m. We look forward to listening to ideas, answering questions, and delivering updates from the Capitol to West Metro constituents.
Please RSVP HERE to register and receive location details! You can also follow our Facebook event for updates.
Delivering Emergency Rental Assistance
Last week, the House passed HF 1440 to provide emergency funding to Minnesota's Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program. With rising rent costs and COVID-19 protections and resources expiring, many families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. This funding will help families who are at risk of homelessness to stay in their homes while they get back on their feet.
Protecting Reproductive Rights for Everyone
Earlier this week, the Minnesota House voted to pass legislation to protect reproductive freedom for Minnesotans and people across the country coming to Minnesota in need of access to the full range of reproductive health care options. Once law, the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act will guarantee out-of-state subpoenas and court orders for records related to reproductive care cannot be weaponized for prosecution where such care is considered a crime.
This session, we’ve already established a fundamental right to make autonomous decisions on reproductive care in Minnesota, but with states across the country passing additional and extreme roadblocks and criminal penalties on reproductive healthcare – some even attempting to reach across state lines to do so – it’s critical we be explicit about protections for health professionals and patients. We are leaving no room for confusion and ensuring every person in Minnesota – whether you live here or not – is protected from persecution in other states for seeking or providing reproductive healthcare.
Making Minnesota a Trans Refuge State
Early this morning, we voted to pass legislation with similar protections for our trans neighbors. With the passage of the Trans Refuge bill, we made Minnesota an island of refuge for the trans community, who continue to face obscene levels of discrimination across the country. With our neighbors from the East, West, and South also threatening the lives and well-being of our trans neighbors, Minnesota will remain a safe place for those seeking gender-affirming care without fear of criminal penalty in states that have stripped these human rights.
State Budget Targets
This week, the House Speaker, Senate Majority Leader, and Governor Walz reached an agreement on a framework for a new state budget. With Democratic leadership in the House, Senate, and Governor’s office, we’ve been able to work together to agree on a budget with almost two months left in the legislative session. This means committees will have more time to carefully consider legislation rather than rushing to decide at the last minute. Beginning in April, committee work will conclude and each chamber will pass budget bills off the floor.
A Savings Account for Every Child
I'm excited to announce I've introduced HF 2864, which would establish a statewide children's savings account program for higher education and business training. The program would provide seed deposits to children born in Minnesota and would provide matching opportunities throughout childhood to encourage savings for higher education and technical training programs.
This bill is an important step in closing the achievement gap and increasing college and career readiness for Minnesota’s students. It would also help to build financial literacy and economic opportunity for all Minnesotans. By giving children a financial education from an early age, we can help them to make smart financial decisions throughout their lives. When we invest in our littlest Minnesotans, we set ourselves up for a more vibrant and prosperous future.
This proposal was piloted in Saint Paul as the College-Bound Saint Paul program with fantastic success. I’m excited to expand the program to the rest of Minnesota!
It's clear that far too many Minnesotans have trouble fairly accessing financial services. The current payday lender business model – lend cash, no questions asked – is actively harmful to over half of the customers who patronize these businesses, who tend to be disproportionately African American. As it stands today, the payday lending industry has no incentive to care for the financial well-being of their customers. In fact, the more desperate a customer is, the better it is for the payday lender. While we are taking action on capping predatory loan rates, I have been working with advocates to offer a more beneficial option.
This week, I introduced legislation to create a partnership with Exodus Lending, a non-profit dedicated to helping Minnesotans get out of predatory lending debt, to offer Minnesotans who are caught in lending traps a 0% interest refinance program.
This bill will provide much-needed relief to struggling Minnesotans so that they can get back on their feet while paying back their loans. This Islamic-friendly, interest-free loan program also provides a way for Minnesotans to build their credit score without participating in traditional financing options. A group of neighbors came to visit on Muslim Day on the Hill and spoke in support of interest-free alternatives for financing home loans and more.
Thanks to all who were able to visit at the Capitol in support of the issues that matter most to you. From ranked-choice voting to mental health, and long-term care to Alzheimer’s awareness, our neighbors are passionate and knowledgeable on many things. I learn so much from you!
Keep in Touch
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 email@example.com or by phone at 651-296-6828. You can contact my Legislative Assistant, Ella, at 651-296-3918 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is an honor and a privilege to represent you at the Capitol.
All my best,
Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn