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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Kim Hicks (DFL)

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Legislative Update - March 15, 2024

Friday, March 15, 2024

Dear neighbors,

I hope you are all having a nice start to Spring! It’s been another busy week at the State Capitol as we continue to hear from constituents and move forward legislation focused on making life more affordable for Minnesotans.

Here’s the latest from St. Paul:

Legislative Town Hall

Rep. Andy Smith, Sen. Liz Boldon and I will be hosting a Town Hall on Sunday, March 24th, from 2:00-4:00pm at 125 Live in Rochester. This event is an opportunity for you to share any thoughts or concerns you have about issues you care about. I hope to see you there!

Busy Week at the Capitol!

It was a hectic but productive week at the State Capitol, as I ran between meetings with constituents, committee hearings for a number of my bills, and the House Floor. I’m grateful for all the constituents who came to visit me this week, including members of the Physical Therapy Association, AFSCME, SEUI, and pediatricians and respiratory therapists from the Mayo Clinic. 

On Thursday, I presented my bill, HF 3678, to the Children and Families Committee. Last year, DFLers passed  a bill to support the Diaper Bank of Minnesota and help Minnesotan children and families who were struggling to afford diapers. Now, we’re working to pass a bill to restructure some of their costs and help them continue their great work for Minnesotans. Thank you to the members of the Diaper Bank of Minnesota who joined me at the hearing as well.

I presented HF 3780 to the Education Finance Committee, which aims to uncomplicate and reduce paperwork for special education. This critical bill will look at how we can use special education funding to advance students with special education needs and ensure that they are included and represented as a priority.

In the Human Services Finance Committee, I also presented HF 4158, which would allow people on Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) to renew once every year instead of once every six months, and would give people 30 days to get their paperwork in, instead of 10 days. This bill would help streamline a critical process, and I’m excited to see it move through another committee. 

You can keep track of these and all my other bills here.

House Approves 101 Environmental Projects

Minnesotans take pride in our legacy of environmental stewardship. That’s why DFLers passed legislation to fund 101 projects across our state that protect our wildlife, water, air, and soil. 

The funding, which comes from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, uses a portion of our state lottery proceeds to ensure our environment and natural resources are protected for generations to come.

The Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources is now gathering input about the future of Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund spending and taking feedback about what environmental issues are most important to you. Make your voice heard about how to improve Minnesota's environment & natural resources.

Take the survey here.

Expanding Access to Affordable, High-Quality Health Care

All Minnesotans deserve to live healthy lives with economic security, and DFLers at the Capitol are committed to expanding access to affordable, quality health care. Unfortunately, too many Minnesotans currently can’t afford health insurance or have health insurance they can’t afford to use. Working families without employer-based insurance often face outrageous premiums and other out-of-pocket costs. For instance, many plans on the individual market have annual deductibles of $7,000 or higher. This puts Minnesotans in an impossible predicament, which leads to people avoiding care and results in poor health outcomes – sometimes with tragic consequences.

One plan to solve this problem impacting middle-class Minnesotans is the MinnesotaCare Public Option. It would allow all Minnesotans to access comprehensive health insurance coverage – with vision, dental, and more – with low out-of-pocket costs and a large network of quality medical providers. People enrolled in the Public Option would pay their own premiums – with significantly lower prices than what’s available currently on the individual market – determined on a sliding scale based on income.

MinnesotaCare has been a nation-leading, highly successful, and trusted health insurance program serving low-income working Minnesotans for over 30 years. The bill creating a MinnesotaCare Public Option – which would expand affordable health insurance to thousands of more Minnesotans – is advancing through the committee process in the House.

High Demand for Universal School Meals Prompts Legislation to Meet Need

Because it’s impossible to learn effectively when a student is hungry, in 2023, the Legislature made breakfast and lunch free across the state. Participation in the universal school meals program has surpassed the initially anticipated increase by more than 20% across the state. To ensure we’re meeting the need and filling this gap, House DFLers approved legislation to continue these investments so no child goes hungry at school.

MPR had a great story about the program that you can read here.

Federal Assistance for Small Businesses Affected by Warm Winter

Our “winter” this year has been unseasonably warm. While many of us have enjoyed foregoing winter jackets this year, the low precipitation we’ve experienced this winter has had a real economic impact on small businesses that rely on snow and winter tourism. Federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available due to the ongoing federal drought declarations affecting 81 Minnesota counties. Small business owners should apply here for assistance as soon as possible.

Stay Connected with the Legislature

Please continue to reach out with any input, ideas, or feedback about the issues important to you. I value hearing from you, so call or email any time. You can find my information on my House website. You can also like my Facebook page, and follow me on Twitter.

It is an honor to represent you at the State Capitol.


Kim Hicks

State Representative