After many months of hard work, my colleagues and I have finished passing a two-year state budget. Minnesota is one of the only divided legislatures in the country, so we knew that we weren’t going to get everything we hoped for but we still had some impressive accomplishments.
Some of my top priorities this session were fighting climate change, criminal justice reform, standing up for democracy, and economic justice. Many bills that I authored were included in budget proposals and approved by the House. Some were taken out due to opposition from Senate Republicans, but others made it into the final budget and were signed into law on Friday!
Fighting Climate Change
I’m sorry to report that Senate Republicans were unwilling to make any meaningful progress towards clean energy. They rejected most of the provisions from the historic clean energy budget that we passed in the House, including my proposals for 100% clean energy by 2050, cleaner cars and buildings, and improving community solar gardens.
There’s no hiding that this result is a disappointment, but we should remember what we accomplished together this year. Hundreds of Minnesotans gathered to show their support for clean energy at the first ever hearing on 100%, a climate rally, and two student strikes. They earned the support of Governor Tim Walz, and many of my House colleagues said that they heard more from constituents about clean energy than any other issue.
We also had a few accomplishments in the energy budget, including my bills to expand the amount of rooftop solar that’s eligible for state grants and to increase financing to improve energy efficiency for commercial buildings. While this result is frustrating, the call from the public is clear and Senate Republicans won’t be able to stand in the way forever.
Minnesota students were back at the Capitol calling for action on climate change on our last day of session.
Criminal Justice Reform
Senate Republicans also stood in the way of criminal justice reform. Despite support from the ACLU, probation officers, and county prosecutors, they refused to advance my bipartisan bill to cap probation at five years. They also voted down common sense gun violence legislation that I co-authored.
I co-authored two of the gender-based violence prevention measures that were adopted. One will create a working group to find out what’s working and what’s not in Minnesota’s criminal sexual conduct laws and recommend changes based on their findings. The other establishes a state task force to address the endemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Minnesota.
I was proud to stand with students from our community at the Stop Abortion Bans rally.
Standing Up for Democracy
I introduced a bill to help ensure that we get a complete count in the 2020 Census. This is important for maintaining Minnesota’s eighth congressional seat (we’re right on the bubble!) and for keeping $15 billion in federal funding that goes toward school lunches, Medicare, and other important programs. I’m happy that I was able to secure $1.6 million for census work in the final budget! My election reform legislation to increase the number of early voting days and to allow for a permanent absentee voter list passed the House, but neither saw movement in the Senate.
Economic Fairness for All
As a member of the Jobs and Energy Conference Committee, I was proud to be a part of passing the strongest protections against wage theft in the country. Tougher laws will help ensure that Minnesota workers receive their full paycheck. My bill to protect Minneapolis pension funds from an effort to violate a previous agreement between the state and city was also part of the final budget. This will preserve the deal and save Minneapolis taxpayers $20 million.
I’ll share more details about the new budget next week. If you’d like to read more, information about each area is available here. You can also watch the public hearings that House committees held here.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve.