Week two of the legislative session has come to a close and we are as busy as ever over here at the Capitol. I am excited to share all the progress we have made this week with you.
CELEBRATING MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
On Monday, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There are a number of great community events happening over the weekend in remembrance and celebration of Dr. King. Click on the posters below for more information on each event.
FREE SCHOOL LUNCH
I am proud to be working alongside Rep. Jordan and several other colleagues to provide continued free breakfast and lunch to all public school students in Minnesota. This program provides relief to struggling families during the pandemic.
One in six kids in Minnesota struggle with food insecurity. Simply put, students cannot perform at their best on an empty stomach.
The bill has already passed its first committee hearing and will be heard in the Education Finance Committee. I look forward to updating you on this initiative as it progresses.
EXTENDING UI BENEFITS FOR RANGERS
This week, the Minnesota House Workforce Development Finance and Policy Committee, which I chair, unanimously approved legislation to extend Unemployment Insurance benefits for workers who lost their jobs due to the idling of Northshore Mining.
The bill would offer an additional 26 weeks of benefits for workers who were either laid off by Northshore Mining or associated businesses offering goods and services to Northshore, namely in the explosive manufacturing industry.
This bill will provide much needed support to over 400 workers during this difficult time. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. I am thankful to my colleagues for prioritizing this issue so early in the session.
This morning, the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act passed its third and final committee hearing. We expect a final floor vote on the bill soon, which feels righteous as we approach the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I am proud of how the House and Senate have prioritized this critical proposal.
FEDERAL TAX CONFORMITY
This week, Governor Walz signed this year’s first bill, HF 31, into law.
My colleagues and I worked quickly to pass this bill to update Minnesota’s tax code into conformity with federal law. This will result in over $100 million in tax cuts to a wide range of Minnesotans, while simplifying future tax filings.
This efficient and unified action is just the beginning of an effective legislative session under House DFL leadership. By passing this bill within the first two weeks of session, the Department of Revenue will be able to incorporate these measures in time for this year’s tax filing season.
While we moved swiftly to pass this bill, it doesn’t end our discussions at the Capitol about taxes. There are a lot of ideas out there, especially to help young families, homeowners and renters, and Minnesota seniors, and as the session progresses, we will take a hard look at these solutions.
THE CROWN ACT
This week, my colleagues and I swiftly passed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act. This bill updates the definition of “race” in the Minnesota Human Rights Act to include “traits associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and hair styles such braids, locs, and twists.”
Once signed into law, adverse actions based on the appearance of an individual would be explicitly considered discriminatory actions based on race.
While racial discrimination in the areas of housing, education, employment, and public services and accommodations is already prohibited, the CROWN Act would emphasize that discrimination based on the appearance of someone’s hair is explicitly considered racial discrimination.
The bill passed with a vote of 111-19 and now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
I am thankful to so many of my Republican colleagues who voted alongside us in favor of progress. However, it is worth noting that the DFL-led House previously passed this bill both in 2020 and 2022, but the formerly Republican-led Senate did not even bring it to the floor for a vote.
I am looking forward to finally seeing movement on many other bills that previously met the same fate now that Democrats have the “trifecta.”
On Wednesday, Urban Housing Works, alongside other nonprofit housing organizations, led a rally in support of equitable and stable housing in the Capitol rotunda. As an author of two upcoming housing bills, I was happy to see so much energy for the issues.
Photo: @BringItHomeMN via Twitter.
The first bill, HF 11, would establish a state rent assistance program for low-income, cost-burdened households. The second bill, HF 12, would establish a first-generation homebuyer assistance program. I will be working diligently to pass these bills for our community and our state. I will keep you updated as they make progress through the House.
IN THE COMMUNITY
Ramsey County has partnered with the city of St. Paul and the local faith community to provide “warming hubs” at parks and churches this winter. The new pilot program is starting off with three warming centers, with more facilities to open in the coming weeks. The warming centers will be stocked with cots for people to sleep on and will provide snacks.
In our Eastside district 67B, Faith City Church is one of the three warming hubs led by Pastor Carl Johnson. The hub opens Tuesdays and Thursdays for women and women with children. Pastor Johnson was on KSTP-TV recently sharing why this issue is near and dear to him. If you want to volunteer and support, reach out to Pastor Carl Johnson via 612-548-1073 at Faith City Church.
This winter has been one of the snowiest we have seen in quite some time, and shelters are filling up nearly every night. I am thankful to see our community coming together to provide for those without a warm place to go at night.
To get more information and find locations, you can read more here. If you want to sign up to help, you can do so here.