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

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Legislative Update - October’s New Laws

Tuesday, October 17, 2023
Howard Banner

Dear Neighbors, 

I hope this latest legislative update finds you well. The bulk of the new laws we passed this year were enacted over the summer, but several went into effect this month, including our Driver’s Licenses for All bill that became law on October 1. 

For two decades, our undocumented neighbors have been unable to obtain a driver’s license in Minnesota, making it difficult for tens of thousands of Minnesotans to reliably get to their jobs, school, and run errands without risking themselves or their families. We changed that this year. 

If you are one of the estimated 81,000 people in Minnesota who are now eligible for a driver’s license with Driver’s Licenses for All, additional resources for translations into other languages are available with the virtual assistant. The driver's license manual is available in multiple languages on the Department of Public Safety’s Forms/Documents/Manuals page.


We got to this point because of tireless, unrelenting advocates. They weren’t willing to give up the fight. They weren’t going to be pushed aside. The cheering, dancing, and singing I heard the night we passed this legislation still stays with me. They were saying this is our home, and we belong. I’m elated for that to finally be the case. 


Investing in Housing

Also starting October 1, our new dedicated housing investment through a ¼ cent metro-wide sales tax went into effect. This will be a game-changer to address the #1 expense and burden for most facing Minnesota families – the cost of housing. Here’s what you should know:

Persistent underinvestment in housing has contributed to one of the nation’s worst housing shortages. That’s why the cost of homes to own and rent continue to spike. As a result, more than 325,000 households in the metro area are paying more than 30% of their income on housing.

For the first time ever, we are adding significant, dedicated, and consistent revenues to address our housing crisis. We’ll raise an estimated $150M-$200 million per year, which for context, is larger than the entire previous statewide budget for housing. The impact will be significant. 

Simply put, we aim to build a heckuva lot more homes while opening doors to opportunity for thousands of families at risk for homelessness. Counties and cities will use new resources to produce more affordable homes - both multi-family and  homes to own.

We could see more than 1,000 homes produced per year once resources ramp up. In addition, we fund 3,000 new state-based housing vouchers, an innovative investment that will help us make a big dent in addressing and preventing family homelessness. We know that in and of itself these new dollars will not solve our housing crisis, but it's my hope we have set Minnesota on a new path, where we commit to a future where everyone has the opportunity to find a safe and affordable home. 


I had the honor of joining LiUNA last week to talk about the need to address our housing crisis, and dedicated revenue streams are a huge part of that. I want to thank LiUNA for hosting this fantastic panel on housing at their Infrastructure Summit. At this all hands on deck moment, there is so much alignment in a vision of Minnesota’s future where we use every tool in the box to address our housing crisis.


Indigenous Peoples Day

Finally, on October 9th, we marked Indigenous Peoples' Day. This was the first time Minnesota officially observed Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a state-recognized holiday, and the first time all schools devoted time to informing students about its significance.


We enacted the change earlier this year following years of advocacy by the Minnesota House Native American Legislative Caucus and members of the eleven tribal nations in Minnesota. I’d like to lift up the words of Samual Strong, the Red lake Tribal Secretary, who testified to the importance of this day at a hearing earlier this year:

“We need to celebrate Native peoples’ identity, our culture, our strength. We need to celebrate who we are and teach those around us how to honor us, to understand our history, and most importantly, how we can move forward past these traumas and how we can start to heal these communities that would be harmed so much.”

I look forward to celebrating this day for years to come. 

If you have any questions about our new laws, our work, or would like to mourn the Twins’ World Series prospects, feel free to contact my office.

In partnership, 


Michael Howard