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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

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Legislative Update - February 15, 2019

Friday, February 15, 2019

Dear Neighbors,
We’re over a month into the 2019 legislative session, and things are picking up. Here’s an update of what we’ve been working on this week.
Nurses Day at the Capitol
It was the Minnesota Nurses Association “Day on the Hill” this week, with nurses from all over Minnesota coming to the State Capitol to join in the fight for a more inclusive health care system. They believe that all Minnesotans should have access to quality, affordable health care, and I’m right there with them. A special thanks to the nurses from Richfield and Bloomington who stopped by to speak with me about making sure Minnesotans receive the care they need and deserve.

Teachers of Color Bill
In Minnesota, only 4.3 percent of teachers are people of color, a percentage that pales in comparison to the 33 percent of students who are people of color. We need to do better to ensure that the diversity of our state is reflected in the workforce that is educating the next generation of Minnesotans, which is why I’m supporting the Increase Teachers of Color Act. This legislation would provide loan forgiveness and scholarships to incentivize students of color to become teachers. It would also set the goal of increasing the number of teachers of color by 2 percent every year. The achievement gap in Minnesota is one of the biggest hurdles we face, but this bill would put us on the right path towards closing that gap.
You can read more about the Increase Teachers of Colors Act here.
Net Neutrality

One of the most important consumer protection issues that the legislature should take up this session is net neutrality. Given the ubiquitous power of the internet, it is essential that every Minnesotan has access to a free, fair, and open internet. Today, internet service providers have the power to decide, free from any limitation, what we see when we open our browsers. They can speed up your access to websites that feature products they favor. They can block your access, or simply slow down to the point that it effectively blocks your access to the services they dislike. 
This is why I am co-authoring a bill that would enact net neutrality in our state. The bill (H.F. 136) would make it illegal for internet service providers from engaging in such anti-consumer behavior, and prohibit the state from doing business with providers that do not agree to act in accordance with net-neutrality principles.

This bill cleared its first hurdle this week, passing out of the Commerce Committee.

Conversion Therapy Ban
There was a packed and emotional committee hearing on Wednesday as advocates came to testify on legislation to ban conversion therapy on a minor in Minnesota. Conversion therapy is the attempted practice to change someone’s sexual orientation, a harmful practice that has been discredited by numerous mental health organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association.
All Minnesotans deserve to be respected for who they are, and unfortunately, LGBTQ Minnesotans can still be subjected to this harmful practice. Not only is the therapy lacking in scientific evidence, it has proven to put young Minnesotans at serious risk of depression, substance abuse, and suicide. It’s time to end this dangerous practice, and I’m happy to say the bill passed its first committee hearing.

You can read more about the bill here
Stay In Touch
As always, I want to hear from you. You can reach me at, or at (651) 296-7158. Stay tuned for legislative surveys that should be coming from me soon. We’ll be asking you about your values, your barriers, and most importantly, your story. I look forward to hearing from you.
Michael Howard