The past week has been a heavy one for our community as we mourn the loss of Harding High School student Devin Scott. My heart is breaking for everyone who knew and loved Devin. Monday night, I led a moment of silence on the House Floor for Devin, his family, and our Eastside community. I visited Harding High School, and spoke with St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard, Harding staff, students, parents, and offered my support to Mayor Melvin Carter, Council Member Jane Prince, and St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry. We must support our Harding HS community in this critical time.
There are a number of bills currently working their way through committees that are aimed to address violent crime in Minnesota. Passing these bills won’t bring Devin back – but they will give us the tools and resources to help prevent future tragedy. I will keep you updated as they progress through the committee process.
If you or your student needs extra support during this difficult time, school leaders are urging students to reach out to school counselors or contact the Children’s Mental Health Crisis line at (651) 266-7878.
A Great Start for our Kids
A lack of access to affordable, accessible child care for working families is one of the most pressing issues I have heard about since joining the Legislature. Additionally, with low reimbursement rates, child care providers are struggling to offer competitive wages and in some cases, to even keep their doors open.
On Monday, the House passed a pair of bills with robust investments aimed at stabilizing child care and early learning. HF 13 increases the maximum reimbursement rates for all Child Care Assistance Program providers. HF 150 increases the amount of child care stabilization grants – a key initiative launched during the pandemic – for child care programs. The bill also expands eligibility for early learning scholarships to children age five or younger.
Child care and early learning are both crucial for kids to develop, grow, and learn, but also for family economic security. If a parent can’t afford daycare (if they can even find a daycare spot), they can’t join the workforce. If businesses can’t hire workers, then they can’t grow. I was proud to support these investments to help kids, families, and communities thrive.
Earned Sick and Safe Time
All Minnesotans deserve the opportunity to be successful, but too many must choose between work and taking care of a new baby, a loved one, or themselves. The time to act is now, and DFLers have been taking firm action to address these problems. Yesterday, we passed legislation that would guarantee, at a minimum, one hour of paid Earned Sick and Safe Time for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours per year. I was proud to vote in favor of this bill last night. It is currently working its way through the committee process in the Senate, and we’re hopeful that under full DFL leadership, it will be headed to the Governor’s desk soon.
Workforce Development Finance and Policy Committee
February is Black History Month, and this week, we heard several exciting bills in committee to invest in job training and Minnesota’s youth, with extra focus on African American youth in Minnesota. We heard a bill that would invest in the organization 30,000 Feet for youth apprenticeship jobs, wraparound services, after-school programming, and summer learning loss prevention targeted at African American youth. HF 489 would invest in job skills training for recently released inmates, and HF 711 would invest in the Big Brothers Big Sisters youth programming. I am looking forward to supporting these great bills when they make it to the House floor.
Catalytic Converter Theft
On Monday, HF 30 is headed to the House Floor. This bill would address the ever-present issue of catalytic converter theft. This crime has been increasing all across the state, and I will be proudly supporting this legislation.
This bill adds additional requirements that scrap metal dealers must follow when purchasing catalytic converters, including a requirement that any catalytic converter be marked with an identifying number that connects it to the vehicle from which it was taken. The bill also requires registration with the Department of Public Safety before purchasing scrap metal. It also establishes criminal penalties for the unauthorized possession or purchase of a catalytic converter.
Eastside Capital Investment
In 2021 and 2022, I championed several capital investment projects for our Eastside, and unfortunately our MN Senate which was under GOP control failed to take action with us to pass a comprehensive bonding bill. Earlier this week, Chair Fue Lee and Vice Chair Liz Reyer shared a proposal mirroring last biennium’s bonding bill which includes several eastside project I am championing – 30,000 Feet Black Arts Center, Conway Recreation Center – Sanneh Foundation, and the Wakan Tipi Center. I have also introduced legislation for the Funny Asian Women Kollective arts center, PROCEED health and education center, and Listening House for the 2023 and 2024 bonding bill.
In The Community
Earlier this week, I met local Eastside neighbors Stephen Moore on supporting our local entrepreneurs and had a great conversation with Pator Carl Johnson on infrastructure investments and addressing food security in our district. I also met with Padra Lor, an intern with The Good Acre on supporting our emerging farmers from the Eastside. Thanks to our neighbors for sharing their stories with me to better craft policies for our state.
Keep in Touch
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I appreciate your attention to these legislative updates. Have a good week.