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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL)

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Legislative Update: CROWN Act, Frontline Workers, Ban Conversion Therapy

Wednesday, March 2, 2022
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Dear neighbors,

February flew by. Below I’ll talk about some of my work this month- on the CROWN Act, the Frontline Worker Bonus, the Conversion Therapy Ban, and the No-Knock Warrant Ban. Thank you so much for subscribing to this newsletter, and please feel free to respond with your thoughts and questions.



Hollins on the floor

The CROWN Act passes MN House 

The CROWN Act (which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair) is a small bill that creates big protections for the Black community. The proposal would add a provision to the Minnesota Human Rights Act to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of hair appearance and texture. 

There have been incidents in Minnesota where an employer has fired and/or taken action against Black workers for not changing their hair or hairstyle. 

We can’t talk about diversity, racial equity and justice in the workplace without talking about discriminatory policies such as a dress code and appearance code, which also prevents black and brown people from accessing economic opportunities, in addition to its impact on our mental health. We are the only ethnic group who has to have a law to protect something that is already a part of our DNA.

Here’s a video of highlights from the proposal’s passage through the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law committee, we heard powerful testimony from the community.


Crown act


Frontline Worker Support Bill Passes House

I was excited to vote ‘yes’ when the proposal to send $1,500 checks to 667,000 Minnesotan frontline workers passed the House floor. You can watch the debate here.

Now, we need the Senate to take action.

There’s not one of us that hasn’t been impacted by the work that has been done and continues to be done by our frontline workers. This recognition is long overdue.

This bill has been two hard years in the making. Our workers in Minnesota need to see action from Senate leaders on this bill now. We need to show that our Minnesota legislature puts people over profits.

Here’s a highlight video, archiving the bill’s passage through the six committees this year.



Africans in Ukraine

I’ve struggled to voice my thoughts on this topic, but it feels important to note. War is ugly and bad (understatement) but what Africans are facing when trying to leave Ukraine to seek refuge is not being covered in the media that I’m seeing. People are using this crisis to fuel hate, and attack those who don’t look like them. There’s discimination and violence happening in the face of war.

Racism decides who can get to safety. Racism decides how they can get to safety, and who is prioritized. On top of the atrocities happening within this war, it’s important to note that racism is still at work. We can make space both for support for Ukraine in this conflict, and for the struggle that Black people and people of color are facing at the border.

I can both support Ukraine against their oppressors, and call out oppression against these groups in Ukraine.




Conversion Therapy Ban

We need a ban on conversion therapy in place to protect our young people. 

This Wednesday in the Preventive Health Division, we had a hearing on my bill to ban conversion therapy in Minnesota. We heard testimony from 26 individuals, many were conversion therapy survivors. LGBTQ+  people subjected to conversion therapy have an 88% greater likelihood of attempting suicide. This is a public health crisis.

Conversion therapy includes a range of dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy is not a therapy at all, it’s been denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health association, including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. This bill would prevent teens and young adults from being coerced into treatments that are ineffective and lead to depression, decreased self esteem, substance abuse, and even suicide. It also seeks to help prevent parents from being taken advantage of by deceptive agents of the conversion therapy industry. This would change lives, improve lives, and save lives. I implore my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to acknowledge the inherent okay-ness of all human beings. We are who we are, and we deserve acceptance, and we deserve love.

You may think, like I do, “how is this even still a conversation?” It was incredibly sad to hear none of my GOP colleagues vote in favor of this proposal.




Women’s History Month

This month, we honor the women who have paved a path for progress while recommitting to the work we still have to do to achieve gender equality for all.

We have the most women ever to serve in House, with 51 out of 134 current Representatives. 10 are women of color. We are better because of their service, and we should strive to build a Legislature which truly reflects the diversity of our state.


MN women


Saint Paul Federation of Teachers prepare to strike

Contract negotiations between the union and district began last May. The union offered 23 proposals in four public sessions before Saint Paul Public Schools filed for mediation in November. Mediation has been ongoing since December. 

SPPS leaders haven’t budged in negotiations and even want to backtrack on improvements like class size caps and guaranteed mental health resources and recess time. They also won’t agree to a reasonable wage increase that will keep great educators, especially our education assistants, in St. Paul schools. 

The Saint Paul Federation of Educators top priorities include:

  • Smaller class sizes so students can get more individualized attention. Students need that extra attention now more than ever during this pandemic.
  • Increased staffing for mental health teams at every school. Our schools are experiencing a mental health crisis and especially need more psychologists, intervention specialists and social workers.
  • More adults working with our students with special needs so they can get more one-on-one support.
  • Keeping educators on the job with a reasonable cost-of-living raise. SPFE is proposing a 2.5 percent annual wage increase, on average with what other districts are settling for in Minnesota. SPFE specifically wants more significant increases for education assistants – an average increase of 23 percent.

The district can afford the proposals. With over $300 million available in federal relief funds, the district can start investing in what parents and students want and need – and what educators know works. 

Minnesota also has a $9.25 billion state surplus. State legislators have an unprecedented opportunity to start fully funding our public schools. 

Two years ago, when The Saint Paul Federation of Educators took the courageous and historic step to strike, they were fighting for these same needs. I supported them and walked with them on the picket lines in 2020 with my 3rd grader. I will do so again this year.


SPPS Strike


No-Knock Warrant Ban

Amir should still be with us.

This is a dangerous practice that constantly harms civilians and officers alike. Democrats in the Minnesota House led the effort to scrutinize the dangers of no-knock warrants last year, and we did make meaningful progress by passing into law some of the first-ever restrictions on this practice. It’s clear from MPD’s actions that we need to do more. I’m proud to carry this bill as we work to get justice for Amir and prevent this from ever happening again.

Here’s a press conference on the bill, and here’s the bill’s first hearing in the Public Safety committee.



Keep Nurses

Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act

We’re in a nurse staffing crisis. Actually - we’ve BEEN in a nurse staffing crisis. There are more registered nurses in the state than ever, yet we fail to adequately staff our hospitals. We need to put patient care and hospital workers above hospital profits.

HF 3242 is a bill to increase nurse retention. It sets a maximum limit of how many patients one nurse can safely care for, launches a student loan forgiveness program for new studying nurses, and supports nurses’ mental health.

Nearly 1 in 5 nurses will leave the profession in the next five years. We have an added urgency to address this constant problem now. This is a comprehensive solution that nurses are asking for, and I’m proud to support the bill.

You can watch the hearing here.



Keep in Touch

For any questions you have on the resources available to our community or our work in the Minnesota House, please feel free to contact my legislative assistant Sonia Romero at or 651-296-4307. 

In Solidarity, 

Athena Hollins

Minnesota State Representative (House District 66B)