After years of obstruction, the Minnesota House has taken the first bipartisan step in finishing the business of the last few years by approving nearly $1.9 billion in investments for local jobs and projects throughout the state.
Projects like our Wood Lake Nature Center renovation were included in the legislation! The package of legislation we passed included $12 million for this local treasure, one that I was happy to show off to the House Capital Investment Committee when they toured it back in 2021.
This and other projects are crucial to communities throughout the state, and inflation is only causing them to go up higher in cost the longer we delay. This legislation requires a supermajority to pass, meaning the Senate, like the House, will need Republican support to get this funding over the finish line.
I hope you’ll join me in calling on Senate Republicans to swiftly pass this legislation. We need to finish the work of 2022 so we can move on to the business of 2023.
You can read more about this legislation and the path ahead here.
NOAH Impact Fund, and Jurline Bryant
This week, our Housing Committee heard my bill to create a NOAH Impact Fund to save and rehab naturally occurring affordable housing across the state. I was honored that Jurline Bryant, a Richfield resident and tenant organizer testified with me. I want to share more about Jurline, because her advocacy is one of the reasons I am here at the legislature and so committed to addressing our affordable housing crisis.
I met Jurline in 2015, when I was a city councilmember. She was a resident at Crossroads at Penn, a 750 unit apartment complex in Richfield, that had just been purchased by a developer who had slipped a note under everyone's doors saying they were raising rents significantly, changing screening criteria such as banning Section 8 voucher holders, and they would have to leave. Tenants scrambled, organized, and asked anyone who would listen for help. Our city council was caught flat footed; this had traditionally been seen as a real estate transaction where there wasn't a role for the government to play. I was able to work with my colleagues to create some limited exceptions and timing considerations, but ultimately, we failed. More than 2,000 residents lost their homes.
Throughout this months-long process, I would talk with Jurline frequently on the phone. I didn't often have the solution she was looking for, but what I could do was listen. She told me how she grew up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights movement and how being put out of her home felt like a retreat in the march toward justice. This was her community. She wanted to stay. And she couldn't.
Fast forward on a more positive note, Jurline has returned to Richfield and lives at Seasons Park, a naturally occurring affordable housing property that was saved by a housing provider committed to keeping it affordable. This is precisely why we need the NOAH Impact Fund and why that chance to testify together about its impact was so meaningful.
I am forever grateful for Jurline, our friendship, and for the power of community organizing and advocacy. We are going to keep pushing forward together.
Veterans Village Project
This week, before the House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, I presented our legislation to provide state funding for the Richfield Legion Post 435 Veterans Village Project. This is an innovative endeavor that would ensure our Legion has a lasting place in our community while creating desperately needing housing for veterans and our community.
There was strong bipartisan support at the hearing - momentum for us to continue advocating for this worthy project!
Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act
Yesterday, the Minnesota House unanimously passed the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act, protecting Indigenous children and ensuring they continue to have a lifeline to their culture.
There’s a dark, ugly history around separating children from their tribal nations, and this legislation is an important part of having honest, educational conversations about the experiences of Indigenous people. The erasure of Indigenous people and Tribal Nations isn’t only in our past; it is firmly in our present.
You can read more about this bill, which is now on its way to Governor Walz’s desk, here.