It is an honor to be representing district 65B at the Minnesota House for my first term. Since the start of the legislative session, we have been hitting the ground running. With the DFL trifecta (House and Senate majorities, plus the governorship), my colleagues and I are committed to moving legislation through the House to dismantle racism, uplift voices within our communities, and ensure we are taking accountability for the decisions we are making that impact the lives of Minnesotans.
Drivers Licenses for All
It was an honor to carry the Drivers License for All legislation with Rep. Aisha Gomez. The House of Representatives passed HF 4, known as “Driver’s Licenses for All”, a bill that would restore the ability of our undocumented neighbors to earn a driver’s license. This measure would impact 81,000 of our immigrant neighbors. After passing standard licensing exams and tests, families will be able to complete essential daily tasks like driving to work, dropping kids off at school, or attending medical appointments, or enjoying a night out at a restaurant or the movies. This proposal has broad support from law enforcement, the business community, unions, and immigrant communities who have been working for nearly 20 years to restore Drivers Licenses for all. !Si se pudo!
All of us deserve to be safe when we are on the road and getting more people to pass a driving exam and become licensed ensures motorists have a common understanding of the rules of the road, can safely operate a vehicle, and can obtain insurance. Thank you to my colleagues Senator Zaynab Mohamed (DFL- Minneapolis) and Senate President Bobby Joe Champion (DFL – Minneapolis) for working to pass this legislation in the Senate! The bill is soon to be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.
Universal Free Meals
We passed a bill to provide free school meals for all students! We pride ourselves on our strong education system, but with 1 in 6 students trying to learn on an empty stomach we are not living up to our values. We have the resources to prevent student hunger and it’s our duty to step up and provide the food security families need and the high-quality education our children deserve. Children learn better when they are nourished and have the resources they need to successfully engage in their classroom.
Conversion Therapy Ban
I am incredibly proud that we voted to ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy Monday night. We need to affirm and celebrate all youth no matter their identity. Thank you to all the courageous advocates in the queer community who fought relentlessly to end this hateful practice. It is because of your relentless advocacy and determination that Minnesota will finally ban this dangerous and discredited practice.
Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls
House File 55, which would create an Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls, was also heard on the House Floor on Monday night. I voted ‘YES’ because there is a lack of urgency from our public institutions when Black women and girls are reported missing. This new office will set strong standards for promptly sending alerts and supporting the community members closest to the pain of not knowing what happened to a missing family member or loved one.
While I was disappointed by the court’s ruling that our current laws of disenfranchisement are constitutional, it was affirmation that the legislature needs to set the standard for reinstating people and their inclusion to our shared democracy. The Senate passed the ‘Restore the Vote’ legislation to solidify the message that our state cares about the restoration of the basic dignity that comes with the right to vote. As we reflect on our history as a state and nation, we must acknowledge that voter disenfranchisement has been used as a tool to limit and restrict historically underserved and marginalized communities’ participation in the political process. I am proud of Senator Bobby Joe Champion and Minnesota DFLers for making it clear, voting is not a privilege for some, it a right for everyone.
Earlier this month, Governor Walz signed the CROWN Act into law. This bill protects Minnesotans from racial discrimination based on natural hair and texture. I'm proud to stand with my colleagues to get this long overdue measure added to and defined in the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
Juneteenth State Holiday
We celebrate Black Excellence each and every day but June 19th will officially be a state holiday. June 19 is the date on which slavery is generally understood to have been fully abolished in the United States, following the first public reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas on June 19, 1865. Establishing Juneteenth as a state-recognized holiday passed on a nearly unanimous vote of 126-1.
On Tuesday, January 31, Governor Walz signed the PRO Act into law, making Minnesota the first state to act nationally to protect abortion rights since the overturning of Roe v. Wade last June. Now that the PRO Act is codified into state law, Minnesotans’ reproductive rights are safeguarded.
Emergency Funding for Food Shelves
The legislation will invest $5 million to the Department of Human Serivces for food shelf programs. DHS will then distribute funding under the bill to Hunger Solutions, an organization that supports Minnesota’s food shelves by connecting resources to serve its clients. Last year, Minnesotans made 5,285,229 visits to food shelves, totaling over 1.4 million more visits than in 2020. Minnesota had a record number of food shelf visits in 2022. Food shelves served 5,285,229 visits from January to November 2022. This is already over 1.4 million more visits than the previous record set in 2020 even with December visit data still to be reported by food shelves.
On Thursday, February 9, the legislation passed on the House floor with a 129-0 vote.
Increasing Investments to Prosecute Violent Crimes
The House recently passed a bipartisan bill that will boost funding to address violent crime and to provide counties 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 county 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.
It is up to us to make sure we have working systems in place to hold offenders accountable and ensure safety to all Minnesotans.
Minnesotans deserve to be and feel safe, and whether you live in the suburbs, the metro, or greater Minnesota, this bill will ensure more bad actors and violent criminals are prosecuted and held accountable.
100% By 2040
The last eight years globally have been the hottest on record, and Minnesota is among the top states currently seeing rapid changes to our climate. Scientists know that climate change driven by fossil fuels is impacting our environment, infrastructure, and our health. Minnesota has long been a leader in clean energy, but partisan gridlock in recent years has hindered attempts to combat climate change.
The House and Senate DFL majorities passed the 100% by 2040 bill, a landmark piece of legislation that will help our state address climate change head-on and prepare for a carbon-free future. Action at the state level is urgently needed to help the U.S. meet our climate goals. This legislation would require that the state’s utilities use entirely carbon-free sources for electricity production by 2040. This would put us on track with over 20 other states that have also adopted similar goals.
Governor Tim Walz, signed 100% By 2040 into law on Tuesday February 7.