First, I want to thank everyone who has made their voices heard at the legislature this session. My favorite part of this job has been getting to know constituents-- learning from your knowledge and life experiences, and working hard to turn that into legislation. Yesterday, I was visited by some of our youngest constituents who were at the Capitol advocating for childcare funding. I am proud to represent everyone in our community- from children to seniors.
Ethnic Studies Bill Receives Hearing
This week, the Minnesota House Education Policy Committee heard my legislation to ensure all students in Minnesota have access to ethnic studies classes. The legislation would place ethnic studies as a graduation requirement for high school students, create an ethnic studies working group to advise the Minnesota Department of Education on ethnic studies curriculum, and provide support and aid to local school districts in the development and implementation of ethnic studies.
Students across our state are asking for this important course. One of the reasons we lose students of color within our school system is due to the disengagement that comes when you don't see yourself reflected in school; when you don't see your history, your culture, or your people valued or taught. The best education should offer students mirrors and windows: mirrors to be able to see themselves to learn their histories, and windows to be able to understand other experiences and cultures. Ethnic studies will do just that. Thank you to the powerful educators and students who joined us to share their stories and push this legislation forward.
Public Safety on Transit
Today, the House Transportation Committee held a hearing on House File 2045 aimed at improving transit safety, focused mainly on the Metro Blue and Green Lines. The legislation establishes a 3-month intensive intervention program to help reset the current culture of the transit lines, utilizing community social services to get help to those who need it. The bill also implements a number of changes to set standards for rider behavior and clarifies when officers have the authority to order people to leave a transit vehicle or facility without issuing a warning. The light rail lines are an incredible asset to all riders, and everyone deserves to be safe while using them. I'm hopeful we will pass this legislation through the House diligently.
Banning Conversion Therapy
Recently the Minnesota House passed a ban on conversion therapy. 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 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 legislation prevents 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 bill will save lives and I was proud to vote for it.
Supporting Emerging Farmers
Minnesota has rich agriculture traditions, and in fact, food grown and produced in our state feeds the entire world. But many emerging farmers, particularly BIPOC farmers, face many barriers. That’s why I introduced two bills to assist our emerging farmers and urban farmers through funding and capacity building. The House DFL majority are making investments to not only ensure we have a sustainable food supply, but to strengthen our state’s agricultural economy and support new opportunities in our rural and urban communities.
Keep in Touch
As we progress through the session, I want to invite you to two different town halls and conversations. Both are on Saturday, March 4th. From 8 to 10am, I will be at the Seward Co-op with Park Board Commissioner Becky Alper. Later on the 4th we will have the SD63 Town Hall at the Windom South Rec Center, starting at 2:30 p.m. We hope to see you there!