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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jessica Hanson (DFL)

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Legislative Update - February 17, 2023

Friday, February 17, 2023

Dear Neighbors,

We are making significant progress in the Minnesota House of Representatives. I’m thankful to everyone who has testified before our committees and told us their stories. I truly believe storytelling leads to positive changes in our communities.

Progress at the Capitol

We recently passed two bills to improve access to affordable child care and early learning centers. Parents have been talking for years about the growing unaffordability of child care. This has caused many parents to forgo further education or employment, and since the pandemic, we have seen many parents struggle to get back into the workforce because they can’t afford or find adequate child care. Every family deserves access to affordable child care, but some of our neighbors are paying as much as 40% of their income. This was a vote to help parents pursue employment and education and ensure children are well cared for and prepared to enter school.

House DFL Plan for Child Care and Early Learning

Last week, the Minnesota House voted to pass two important bills to address food insecurity in our schools and community. HF 5 would create a state program for schools to provide up to two free meals per day to all students, and HF 213 would provide an investment of $5 million for food shelf programs in light of record numbers of visits to food shelves last year.  

It's simple: hungry kids can’t learn at their full capacity. We have a real opportunity to improve the quality of life for many struggling Minnesota families. Minnesota families spend thousands of dollars on groceries every year, and a lot of the money goes toward packing school lunches. This bill will slash grocery costs and help families save money. I was proud to vote for these bills to ensure we feed every Minnesotan in need.

School Food

Two other bills were passed to invest in Minnesota’s justice system. HF 29 passed with bipartisan support and will boost funding to address violent crime and provide counties with the tools they need to prosecute heinous crimes statewide. 

With additional public safety investments and in partnership with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office, this bill, which has already passed in the Senate, would allow us to hire more prosecutors so they can expand their scope to charge violent crimes. These offenses, including crimes like assault, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, burglary, human trafficking, sex trafficking, homicide, and more, are an assault on our communities and our society. 

Further, we passed HF 90, a bill funding our public defenders. Under the US and Minnesota Constitutions, we provide the right to due process. Criminal defendants are entitled to a state-appointed lawyer if they cannot afford one. There have been longstanding budget shortfalls in The Office of Public Defense which have meant overworked public defenders cannot adequately defend the number of defendants they are assigned.

New Bills!

I have introduced HF 1067, which will reimburse personal care assistants (PCAs) for their time when providing client transportation. Living with a disability should not restrict Minnesotans’ access to move about the world as they need or choose. Even if individuals have their own adaptive vehicles but need someone else to drive them, providers and agencies cannot be reimbursed for the time spent driving. In many places around Minnesota, there are few or no alternatives for transportation for people with disabilities. Therefore, lack of transportation is the leading cause of unemployment for people with disabilities. This is another bill that values the inherent dignity of our neighbors with disabilities. This bill has gained bipartisan support, and I’m optimistic we can pass it this session.


On Wednesday, I introduced HF 504, which invests $25 million each biennium for the Small Business Partnership Grant Program to the House Economic Development Committee. Those who take the risk and start a business face unique barriers corporations and big businesses easily overcome with overwhelming access to capital. This bill is just one step toward ensuring Minnesota becomes an even better place to start and grow a company profitable enough to support the business owners’ and their employees’ families. Thanks to Henrietta Smaller, owner of Stunning Beauty Supply in Burnsville, for her testimony supporting the bill. You can watch the bill presentation here.



I am thankful our bonding request for the City of Savage has been included in our next bonding bill. Working with Savage City Administrator Brad Larson, we identified the Quentin Avenue underpass as an ideal candidate for a bonding request. The project will widen the underpass under an out-of-use railroad built in 1941. The underpass has been a safety concern for drivers, and with the upcoming improvements to Highway 13, a recent traffic study found the underpass could cause backups of up to 50 vehicles. The bill was heard in the House Capital Investment Committee on Wednesday. I will continue to advocate for this request as the bill goes through the legislative process. 

Our bill to lift the Dan Patch Line moratorium (HF 246) has had two hearings in the Transportation Committee. The bill only lifts the moratorium (basically a gag order) on the Dan Patch Rail Line and another Rail Line in Rochester. That’s it. 

Statewide bans on local infrastructure are bad policies. Local communities do not need barriers to make their communities more successful. Scott County is one of the fastest-growing areas of our state. We need options like the Dan Patch Rail Line to improve transit, improve congestion, and attract more tourists to places like Valleyfair, Mystic Lake Casino, Canterbury Park, and more (if deemed appropriate). Leaving restraints on our South Metro communities is just another way we have been left out and ignored. The bill passed the Transportation Committee and now heads to the House floor.

February is Black History Month! Every day is a great day to celebrate the legacy and talents of our Black and African American communities in Minnesota. It’s a time to reflect on the history of our neighbors' ancestors and uplift their stories. I’m thankful for their contributions to our culture, economy, and society here in Minnesota, and I look forward to working with the community to make a more equitable Minnesota.


Stay in touch

If you have questions, ideas, or feedback that you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can email me at or call (651) 296-4212. For more regular updates, you can subscribe to these regular legislative updates if you haven’t already, here, and you can also “like” and follow my official State Representative Facebook page.


Jess Hanson

State Representative