Welcome back to the legislative session! I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the work my colleagues and I have accomplished in the past three months. While this work requires a lot of tenacity and resilience, I am motivated by the stories and lived experiences of people across the state. Serving our community and bringing life-enhancing impacts for all Minnesotans is an honor. We have shifted our focus to budget bills and voting on policy bill packages.
Office for Murdered and Missing Black Women and Girls
In the 2021 session, the legislature established the Task Force on Missing and Murdered African American Women to examine the causes of violence against African American women and recommend policies to address those causes. Thank you to LaKeisha Lee, Dr. Peter Hayden, and Dr. Verna Price for their courage to share their stories and relive a painful time in their lives. I am grateful for their support to uplift the importance of developing an Office for Murdered and Missing Black Women and Girls. As a collective effort from our community and my colleagues, the legislation has been signed into law to create the first Office for Murdered and Missing Black Women and Girls in our state.
Minnesota is creating a blueprint for the nation to prioritize the safety and security of Black woman and young girls. We matter and we are worthy of resources, investment in prevention, and protection.
The legislation made national news because lawmakers and communities know the stark statistics that Black woman and girls face and we need to act now to take care of our most vulnerable citizens.
Black Maternal Health Week
April 11-17 is Black Maternal Health Week. Black Maternal Health Week. Black women rate 3-4 times more likely to die from a pregnancy related cause and over 85 percent of those deaths are preventable.
In honor of Black Maternal Health Week, Brittany L. Wright, program manager for the state of Minnesota’s Children’s Cabinet, and I sat down with Children's Minnesota's James Burroughs to talk about the racial health disparities and the myriad of issues Black women experience during the maternal process.
The Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation ensures we provide a safety net for all Minnesotans. We know that at some time in a person’s work career, they will need to be absent to take care of a loved one or themselves. I am proud to champion this bill to support all Minnesotans across the state.
The bill was passed in the Minnesota House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee earlier this week with an 8-6 vote.
Catalytic Converter Theft Legislation Signed into Law
Minnesota ranks in the top five states for catalytic cover thefts. In November of 2022, a federal takedown of a catalytic converter theft ring of over a half-billion dollars included more than a dozen search warrants across Minnesota. It is going to take all levels of government working together to address this issue, and our bill puts us on the right path.
I have carried this bill for over 3 years and in previous sessions the senate blocked its passage. While it was a long and hard road, I am proud to have carried this bill to the finish line to be signed into law.
Reproductive Freedom Defense Act
The Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act with a 68-62 vote, chief authored by Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL-Minneapolis). The bill protects the privacy and rights of persons receiving or providing reproductive health care in the state.
Bodily autonomy is a right, and we took a critical step in protecting that for more people and providers. The Reproductive Freedom Defense Act will protect the fundamental rights of Minnesota healthcare providers and patients from legal attacks and criminal penalties imposed by anti-abortion extremists in other states. With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we must ensure all Minnesotans have equitable access to reproductive healthcare.
Recent Events at Tennessee Legislature
On April 6, Tennessee House Republicans voted to expel two Black Democratic legislators, Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, from the General Assembly for “disorderly behavior” after three members led protest chants for gun safety on the Floor of the chamber last week. I am happy that Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson were reinstated.
The Tennessee House Republicans continue to fail to act on gun reform to protect innocent lives from deadly consequences. Instead, they have doubled down in a horrifying attack on democracy, rooted in anti-Blackness and white supremacy. These events are a reminder that racism is alive and well and the fight for justice continues.
Not only was the expulsion of these Representatives an injustice to the members, but in doing so, it left nearly 140,000 Tennesseans without the Representation they elected. Here in Minnesota, we are taking steps to ensure our democracy and the people’s voices are uplifted and honored by working to pass legislation like Rank Choice Voting. On March 3, Governor Tim Walz signed into law the largest expansion of voting rights in Minnesota in the last half-century. The law restores voting rights for over 55,000 formerly incarcerated people in Minnesota.
This week we passed the Democracy for the People Act. In Minnesota, we know how critical it is to ensure the voices of our citizens are heard and represented.
Stay connected with the legislature
It is easy to stay connected to news from the State Capitol. The Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services offers nonpartisan recaps of high-profile bills, committee hearings, and floor sessions with their Session Daily publication. Subscribe to receive these here. To track bills of interest through the legislative process, I encourage you to utilize the MyBills feature on the Minnesota House of Representatives’ website.
Please continue to reach out with any input, ideas, or feedback about the issues important to you. I value hearing from you, so call or email any time.
It’s an honor to represent our community in the Minnesota House.
Keep in Touch
Please continue to reach out anytime if you need assistance or have questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4192.