It has been awhile since I last contacted you from my legislative email. There have been many things going on these last several months, but more importantly this week, I was officially sworn in to once again represent you in House district 67B. We now have a DFL trifecta so I am excited about to tackle much of the unfinished work from last year.
It is time to do right by Minnesotans, and we are not wasting any time.
This week, we have made big strides, introducing legislation for cannabis legalization, starting hearings on the PRO Act to protect reproductive rights, and working to ensure Minnesotans have paid family leave. I am proud to be serving as chair of the House Workforce Development Committee, where I plan to bring change and progress for the east side and all of Minnesota.
CODIFYING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
Yesterday, the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act passed its first committee hearing. This bill protects Minnesotans’ right to contraception, the right to carry a pregnancy to term, the right to abortion, and ensures the right to privacy for personal reproductive health decisions. It also prevents interference by anti-choice politicians who seek to enact or defend medically unnecessary barriers to comprehensive reproductive health care.
Minnesotans overwhelmingly support the fundamental right of individuals to make their own healthcare decisions. The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade sends a clear message that we cannot take these rights for granted. The PRO Act will codify these fundamental rights into law which is essential in guaranteeing reproductive freedom for the long-term.
While the bill passed its first committee hearing, it did so on party lines, proving once again that we must move swiftly to ensure that reproductive rights are not in danger should the GOP gain control of Minnesota’s legislature or Supreme Court. Politics have no place in a doctor’s office.
I am proud to be the new chair of the Workforce Development Committee in the coming legislative session. The ability to connect people with jobs and systems is right in my wheelhouse. As someone who comes from the immigrant, refugee, and poverty experience, the ability to cocreate a future where we can find meaningful work for all Minnesotans is dear to my lived experience.
We will be holding our first committee hearing on Wednesday tackling unemployment insurance for our neighbors in northern Minnesota. I have already carried many bills that shepherd in the great work of this committee; from legislation funding youth programs and BIPOC organizations to workforce development projects for organizations in greater Minnesota, this is a policy area that touches everyone directly. I have helped carry legislation to fund important partners in the community that improve workforce and economic development such as the YWCA, 30,000 Feet, The Boys & Girls Club, CLUES, and Big Brothers & Big Sisters. I am incredibly proud of the work we have accomplished to establish the Task Force on Eliminating Subminimum Wages that fights hard for equitable payment policies for our most vulnerable constituents with disabilities.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE
Another priority for us for this session is finally passing legislation to ensure paid family and medical leave for all Minnesotans. We all know that the first weeks after birth are a critical time for families. Currently, leave for these purposes is unpaid, but in a time where many families are struggling, this puts many new parents in a difficult position. Paid family and medical leave will give workers time to be with their loved ones during the most joyful and challenging moments of their lives. We are committed to providing greater economic security for working families and ensuring that our youngest Minnesotans get the great start in life that they deserve.
Once passed, the legislation will provide workers with up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave per year. While on leave, workers would receive a percentage of their wages so that they can spend time with a new child, take care of a family member, or seek medical attention for themselves. The program will run through The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in conjunction with the Unemployment Insurance program, and it would be funded by an increase in payroll deduction.
OTHER LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
I am looking forward to championing these issues with my colleagues for our East Side too:
30K Feet Arts Center – educational center for youth
Funny Asian Women Kollective Theater – building a center for local artists
Pig’s Eye Lake - cleaning and restoration of land and lake
P.R.O.C.E.E.D. Ms. JoAnn Clark Center – educational and health center
Eastside Freedom Library – support infrastructure
Conway Recreation Center – educational programming for youth and adults
Listening House – provide shelter for those in need
Big Brothers & Big Sisters – tutoring and educational youth programming
Boys & Girls Club – mentorship and youth employment programming
E-12 Education, High ed. – fully funding our education system and providing financial support for higher ed students
Energy, Environmental & Climate Action
Public Safety – passing legislation to support our public safety bill last session which would support community and law enforcement
C.L.U.E.S. – career training for adults
IN THE COMMUNITY
Community member Mai Vang, locally known as the “Eggroll Queen,” recently had a generator and catalytic converter stolen out of her mobile kitchen. As someone who is known for giving back to her community, the community is now turning the tables to support her with a GoFund Me to cover the repairs and replacements her truck requires.
While it warms my heart to see my community coming together for a member in need, it highlights the ever present need for focus on addressing and preventing catalytic converter theft.
I have heard from so many of you over the past two years about this growing problem, and it is not just the eastside that is seeing an increase in thefts; this is a statewide issue, too. I want you to know that it is something that we are going to tackle right away now that we will not be facing GOP blockages when passing legislation. I will keep you updated as we move through the process.