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

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Big Legislative Victories for Richfield in the 2023 Session

Thursday, June 15, 2023

St. Paul, MN – The 2023 Legislative Session adjourned in May following a historic slate of progress on a host of priorities, including millions in new investments that will benefit the City of Richfield and its residents. State Representative Michael Howard (DFL-Richfield) applauded the victories on everything from new funding for local schools, increased resources for public safety and affordable housing, and pivotal resources to reconstruct the Wood Lake Nature Center. 

“We are making investments in our community that will be felt for generations to come,” said Rep. Howard. “These victories have been hard-fought over many years and wouldn’t have been possible without the community-led activism at the capitol and partnership with our city leaders. Together, we delivered big, not just for Richfield, but for the entire state of Minnesota.” 

One of the largest victories of the session came in the closing days with the passage of a $2.6 billion Capital Investment bill, delivering one-time funds to shovel-ready projects throughout the state. In Richfield, the Wood Lake Nature Center will receive $12 million for the reconstruction of its main building. 

“Wood Lake Nature Center is a gem for our community and region,” said Howard. “Our Richfield local leaders have worked hard to make the case for this project at the Capitol. It has been a team effort and I am elated that we’re finally able to deliver this final push of resources to get shovels in the ground.” 

Several forms of direct funding for the city of Richfield and the surrounding communities come from the new Tax Bill, which includes funding for Public Safety Aid, Local Government Aid, and Local Housing Aid. From these forms of aid, Richfield is receiving $1.6 million for public safety, over $2.7 million increase in local government over the next two years, and Hennepin County is receiving over $2 million in local housing aid. 

The state’s new, transformational $2.2 billion K-12 Education Budget closes the gaps of the special education and English language learner cross-subsidies, and provides a 4% per-pupil increase in the general education formula in 2024 and a 2% increase in 2025 for an investment totaling $704 million over the biennium. In total, this budget provides an additional $10.7 million for Richfield schools over the next two years. 

Among the policy victories that came out of the legislature this year, several were proposals championed by Richfield community members, including Drivers Licenses for All, which reinstated the ability for all Minnesotans to obtain a driver's license, regardless of citizenship; the ability for undocumented Minnesotans to access MinnesotaCare; and permanent funding for the Family, Friend, and Neighbor Child Care Program. 

“We sought out to work with our community so that we could do the most good for the most people this session, and I believe we hit that mark,” said Rep. Howard.