Last week, two local mosques in our district were violently attacked, resulting in fire damage to both.
The number of attacks against Muslim communities is only growing. I know these attacks are weighing heavy on many minds throughout Minnesota, and especially here in Minneapolis. Every single Minnesotan should be able to practice religion without fear of being attacked while in a sacred space, and last week, that peace and safety was taken away from us. But we will not bow down in the face of hate, we will rise together to fight it, no matter what they throw at us.
I am a Minnesotan. A Muslim Minnesotan.
I am also an American. A Somali American.
I'm proud of all my layers.
Last week, DFLers stood together in strength as they condemn these hateful acts and boldly say, hate has no home here. You belong here. Thank you to Attorney General Keith Ellison and Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter for joining us, and thank you to my House colleagues – nearly every single DFL member stood by us in solidarity. This is how we show up for each other.
You can watch my remarks from our press conference here.
The Jobs and Labor Budget Bill
I’ve been working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to prepare our Jobs and Labor budget bill, which includes work from the Economic Development Committee, which I chair, the Workforce Development Committee, and the Labor and Industry Committee. This bill is one of the most robust investments in Minnesota’s economy in history, with an emphasis on small businesses and job training.
Small businesses are the heartbeat of Minnesota’s economy, and DFLers are committed to supporting and encouraging small businesses to open and thrive. The Jobs and Labor budget bill invests in systems to help lift up struggling businesses and lower the barrier to entry for new businesses while making investments to train Minnesota’s workforce so everyone can access a well-paying job.
Last week, we passed the bill off the House Floor. Because there are some differences between our bill and the Senate’s version, this week we will meet with a few Senate members in what is called a Conference Committee to iron out the details before it heads back to each respective body for a final vote and to the Governor’s desk for signature.
Improving conditions for rideshare drivers
Last week, my legislation to increase protections for rideshare drivers passed out of its final committee hearing. It now awaits action on the House Floor.
Uber claims their drivers are being fairly compensated and that Uber takes only a 19% cut of ride costs, but as we’ve heard time and time again in committee, that number actually frequently exceeds 70%, despite the company operating with very little overhead. Not only are these drivers being subject to unlivable wages, but violent attacks on rideshare drivers are only increasing, and the companies’ insurance does not cover drivers who are victims of these attacks. Throughout this process, I have been in touch with the folks at Lyft, who have acknowledged there are issues and have expressed willingness to come to the table to work things out. Uber on the other hand has not, and instead sent me an ultimatum with their “only offer” and that I could take or leave it.
I absolutely refuse to bow down to lobbyists' ultimatums -- that's not how I legislate.
Minnesota's rideshare drivers deserve to come home safe to their families at the end of the day, period. In fact, it is our duty as legislatures to ensure Minnesota’s rideshare drivers make it home safely. The time to act is now – drivers cannot wait any longer.
Last Thursday, Governor Walz signed three major bills into law: the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act, the Trans Refuge Bill, and the Conversion Therapy Ban. These bills – now laws – are a major victory for Minnesotans, as we became an island of refuge for those seeking kindness, compassion, and understanding. With the signing of these bills, we send a message to folks from all corners of the country that says, “you’re welcome in Minnesota, and you’re safe in Minnesota.” I’m deeply grateful to my colleagues and everyone who helped us achieve this moment in history.
Paid Family and Medical Leave
Today, the Minnesota House passed HF 2, known as Paid Family and Medical Leave. The bill provides Minnesota workers up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for family or themselves. The program is funded by a small employer and employee contribution, meaning lost wages from time off will be recovered by the State fund, not employers.
Every day in Minnesota, workers face the impossible choice of either going to work to earn a paycheck or staying home to take care of themselves or a sick family member. While some workers have jobs that provide paid sick leave, thousands of Minnesotans do not have access to a single paid day off. Additionally, those in the lowest wage positions and our BIPOC community members face stark disparities.
The United States of America is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee some sort of paid leave for its workforce, and it’s been a major disservice to our citizens and our economy. In addition to the benefits for workers, paid family and medical leave will also benefit businesses. Studies have shown that businesses with paid family and medical leave policies have lower turnover rates, higher productivity, and stronger employee morale. Paid family and medical leave will also help to attract and retain top talent. Our bill creates a grant program for businesses with 50 employees or fewer that could apply for grants to cover certain costs. This is a massive win for Minnesota.
Legalization of Adult-use Cannabis
Last week, we became one step closer to legalizing adult-use cannabis. Advocates and changemakers have been working on this legislation for nearly a decade, and Minnesota is ready for it. The bill has seen many changes to reflect the need for justice for our BIPOC communities, and I am beyond proud of my colleagues for finally passing the bill off the House floor. The Senate passed their version of the bill Friday, and now it heads to Conference Committee before heading to the Governor’s desk.
Minnesota’s current cannabis laws are doing more harm than good. By creating a regulatory framework, we can address the harms caused by cannabis, establish a more sensible set of laws, improve our healthcare and criminal justice systems, and ensure better outcomes for communities. Minnesotans deserve the freedom and respect to make responsible decisions about cannabis use themselves.
Keep in Touch
There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon this session, so be sure to follow my Facebook page and Instagram page for timely updates.