Saturday, April 06, 2019
Even if my bracket doesn’t survive Final Four weekend, we have a lot to celebrate in news from the Capitol.
Driver’s Licenses for All
Yesterday, the Minnesota House finally debated and passed a bill to ensure equality and safety on our roads. No one should fear separation from their families for something as simple as driving to work or to the doctor. It was long the law that you didn’t need to show proof of citizenship to get a driver’s license, until then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty changed the rule in 2003. HF 1500 would make sure that no one is excluded from getting a license (or insurance) – this will increase insured drivers on the road and allow more Minnesotans to live safe, productive lives. I was glad to see support from law enforcement, the business community, labor unions, people of faith and community groups.
State of the State
On Wednesday night, Gov. Tim Walz came to the House chamber to give his first State of the State address. He told the story of Minnesotans who inspired his priorities, and who, because they have come forward to tell their stories, are helping shape our state government.
Jobs & Economic Development
On Thursday, the House Jobs and Economic Development Committee announced its budget priorities. Highlights of the bill include several pieces of legislation the House DFL identified as top priorities at the start of this legislative session. The Paid Family Leave Act (HF 5) and Earned Sick and Safe Time (HF 11) are included in this bill. Together, they ensure that Minnesotans are allowed time off work to care not only for their children and other members of their family, but also themselves.
Another priority bill included in the House Jobs budget is Rep. Mahoney’s legislation to establish and enforce wage theft prevention (HF 6). With 39,000 Minnesotans experiencing wage theft in some form every year, this bill would protect wages and hold employers accountable when they take advantage of workers.
Other key pieces of legislation in the Jobs omnibus finance bill include:
On Monday, the Highwood Hills Community Recreation Center on the Eastside opened to the public – a project that was 11 years in the making. It was closed in 2008 due to budget cuts. Spaces like this helps Eastsiders be part of the St. Paul community. Staffed youth spaces are constructive and have demonstrated that they cut down on run-ins with the law. This is a place for our kids to play and learn, and I’m grateful for the leadership of Council Member Jane Prince, Somali Parents Advisory Council member Amin Omar, and Mayor Melvin Carter.
Have a great rest of your weekend! Please reach out if you have any questions for me.
This week I had a timely meeting with MAPE and AFSCME neighbors at Capitol, the same day we voted on several bills to protect working people in the Jobs Committee. We took up and passed the Paid Family Leave Act, Earned Sick and Safe Time, and Wage Theft bills.
The Family Medical Leave Act would allow Minnesota workers to take time to care for a sick family member or a new baby, while still retaining a percentage of their salary. The bill has been through a lot of committee stops - it received hearings on Tuesday and Friday, and has an upcoming hearing on Monday. Minnesotans shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table and caring for themselves or their loved ones. The House is committed to providing economic security for hard-working families.
That also means protecting workers from wage theft. Minnesota workers deserve every penny in wages and benefits for time worked. But each year, more than 39,000 workers face wage theft by their employers, costing them $12 million in lost wages. House DFLers are working to prohibit wage theft so employers can’t deny employees the wages and benefits they have rightfully earned.
Minnesota Values Budget
Every/other year, the legislature passes a budget for the state for the two upcoming years. It’s one of the most important things we’ll do over the coming months. This week the House announced a framework for our budget, one that reflects Minnesota’s values and makes significant investments in education, affordable health care, and increasing economic prosperity across the state. If you want to read more about the budget you can do so here and here.
Instead of giveaways to insurance companies, our health care funding goes directly to consumers and paves the way for a public health care option. It will freeze tuition at our public universities, keep our air, water, and land clean, address the need for gun violence prevention, and improve racial equity.
Thanks for reading, and have a great rest of your weekend!
Nyob zoo sawvdaws!
Kuv zoo siab sawv cev rau nej sawvdaws hauv peb lub xeev Minnesota tsev dawb. Txhua txhua hnub, kuv zoo siab hnov txog nej cov kev cia siab, cov kev npau suav, thiab cov kev nyuaj siab. Kuv yuav mloog nej cov dabneeg thiab nqa nej cov lus mus ua kom kev cai thiaj li ncaj ncees, li ntawd peb sawvdaws lub neej thiaj zoo.
Txoj Cai Vaj Huam Sib Luag
Cov poj niam hauv Minnesota tsim nyog tau kev ncaj ncees rau txhua yam hauv lub neej. Txhua txhua tus neeg nyob hauv Minnesota, txawm yog poj niam los sis txiv neej, yuav tsum muaj txoj kev vaj huam sib luag txais txhua yam lawv xav tau. Lub peb hlis xya, peb tau txhawb tsab cai Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), los sis tsab cai vaj huam sib luag, mus dhau lub House of Representatives lawm, tab sis tam sim no, peb tseem tos kom dhau lub Senate. Yog dhau lawm, tsab cai yauv los rau ntawm daim ntawv xaiv tsa thaum nej mus pov npav, lis ntawd peb yuav cia cov pej xeem txiav txim yog nej puas txaus siab nrog txoj cai thaum lub kaum ib hlis ntuj xyoo 2020. Yog peb sawvdaws pov npav cai tsa txoj cai no, nws yuav pib thaum lub ib hlis xyoo 2021.
Minnesota Asian Pacific (MAP) Caucus mus qhauj xov tooj cua ntawm Minnesota Public Radio
Lub peb hlis yim, lub xov tooj cua Minnesota Public Radio tus neeg qhauj, Angela Davis tau nrog peb cov Hmoob Representatives tham: Rep. Jay Xyooj (DFL - St. Paul), Rep. Tou Xyooj (DFL - Maplewood), thiab Rep. Samantha Vaj (DFL - Brooklyn Center). Angela nug txog lawv txoj lawv txog kev khiav ua ib tus State Representative thiab cov kev nyuaj siab uas lawv hnov txog los ntawm cov pej xeem Hmoob. Mloog ntawm no.
Minnesota zoo siab yog lub xeem uas muaj Hmoob nyob coob heev hauv tebchaws Meskas. Hnub no, muaj ntau tshaj 85,000 tus Hmoob los tau nyob hauv Minnesota txog txij li thaum xyoo 1970 los. Nyob rau hauv Minnesota lub tsev dawb, muaj Hmoob tau los cia tsa coob dua li dhau los lawm. Txij li thaum xyoo 2002, muaj yim tus Hmoob los uas tau Representative thiab Senator.
Peb pib lub Minnesota Asian Pacific (MAP) Caucus vim yog muaj coob tus Asian tab sis no nyob haub lub tsev dawb. Peb siv peb lub zog los pab nriav kev ncaj ncees rau: immigration/kev nkag teb chaws, kev ua liaj ua teb, kev kawm ntawv, thiab kev pov npav.
Tsob Ntoo Maj/Hemp
Sawvdaws hauv Minnesota tsim nyog tau tshuaj uas pheej yig, ua rau lawv muaj kev noj qab huas huv, thiab muaj kev zoo siab. Ntoo Maj cov roj/ Hemp oil (CBD) yog ib hom tshuaj uas muab kev cia siab rau tsev neeg uas nrhiav tsis tau tshuaj pheej yig thiab tshuaj uas pab tau mob taub hau thiab mob Epilepsy. Vim li ntawd, Representative Samantha Vaj thiaj li sau tsab cai (HF 793) uas yuav pab qee txoj kev kom dav me ntsis rau cov lag laum thiab cov neeg ua haujlwm rog Ntoo Maj thiab ua kom neeg nkag siab txoj cai.
Kev siv Ntoo Maj cov roj/Hemp oil/Cannabidiol(CBD), ua raws li peb paub, tsis muaj kev qaug, tsis muaj kev quav tshuaj, thiab tsis muaj teebmeem rau kev noj qab haus. Ntoo Maj cov roj pab neeg nrhov tshuaj uas kim heev thiab neeg uas muaj kev quav yeeb, vim li ntawd, peb yauv tsum tso cai rau Ntoo Maj.
Es un honor representarlo en nuestro Capitolio estatal. Todos los días me inspiro en los minnesotanos como usted, que comparten sus esperanzas, sueños y desafíos. Estoy escuchando sus historias personales y, como resultado, estoy tomando medidas para mejorar la vida de los minnesotanos y construir un estado que funcione mejor para todos nosotros.
Es un placer para mí compartir esta breve actualización de la Legislatura.
Salvando vidas abordando la adicción a los opiáceos
En 2017, más de 400 minnesotenses murieron como resultado de sobredosis de opioides. El mismo año se realizaron más de 2,000 visitas a salas de emergencia por sobredosis relacionadas con opioides. La tasa de muertes por sobredosis relacionadas con opioides ha aumentado constantemente cada año desde 2010.
En respuesta a las desgarradoras historias personales que escucho de los minnesotanos y líderes de la seguridad pública en todo nuestro estado, voté a favor de la legislación para responsabilizar a las corporaciones farmacéuticas por su papel en la creación de esta crisis.
Big Pharma ha recaudado miles de millones en ganancias a lo largo de los años y no ha tenido que pagar ni un centavo para ayudar a los residentes de Minnesota a recibir tratamiento o para ayudar a las autoridades a mantener a nuestras comunidades seguras. Esto es incorrecto y es hora de que comiencen a contribuir a la solución. Hacer que las grandes corporaciones rindan cuentas es lo correcto y me enorgullece apoyar este proyecto de ley.
Protegiendo a los Minnesotanos del acoso sexual
Más del 80 por ciento de las mujeres reportan ser acosadas sexualmente en el lugar de trabajo. Esto es completamente inaceptable. Todos los minnesotanos merecen vivir y trabajar en un entorno libre de acoso sexual.
El 21 de marzo, voté con orgullo por House File 10, uno de los 10 proyectos de ley prioritarios de la sesión del Plan de Valores de Minnesota. House File 10 mejora los estatutos de acoso sexual para permitir que las víctimas y sobrevivientes busquen justicia. El patrocinador principal, representante Kelly Moller, de Shoreview, un fiscal del condado de Hennepin, habla a menudo sobre los sobrevivientes y las víctimas que inspiraron esta legislación.
Por una votación de 113-10 el 21 de marzo, la Casa de Minnesota dio un paso audaz hacia la mejora de las leyes estatales de acoso sexual. El Senado de Minnesota está promoviendo un proyecto de ley similar, y se espera que ambas cámaras resuelvan cualquier diferencia en un comité de conferencia en un futuro cercano.
Prevención de la conducción distraída
Según el Departamento de Seguridad Pública de Minnesota, la conducción distraída o no atenta fue un factor que contribuyó a uno de cada cinco accidentes entre 2013 y 2017, lo que resultó en un promedio de 53 muertes y 216 lesiones graves cada año. Los minnesotanos merecen estar seguros en nuestras carreteras, y queremos que nuestros amigos, vecinos y familiares también estén seguros. Es por eso que la Cámara de Representantes de Minnesota aprobó el lunes 18 de marzo la factura del teléfono celular de manos libres (Archivo de la Cámara de Representantes 50). Voté a favor de esta legislación porque las víctimas de la conducción distraída, los líderes empresariales y los defensores de la seguridad pública me inspiraron a actuar. La ley estatal actual prohíbe el envío de correos electrónicos, mensajes de texto y el uso de un navegador web mientras se conduce. El proyecto de ley del teléfono celular de manos libres aplica la misma ejecución y sanciones a los conductores que no usan su teléfono celular en modo manos libres. Hay excepciones para emergencias y funciones de activación de un toque.
Friday, March 22, 2019
Longer days seem to mean longer nights at the Capitol – we’ve been working late to make sure we pass measures to protect veterans, provide relief to schools, and end the opioid crisis that’s hurt communities around the state.
Ending the Opioid Crisis
More than 400 Minnesotans died of opioid overdose in 2017, and public officials have been reluctant to make any meaningful change. This is a statewide crisis that has touched nearly everyone in our community in some way.
On Monday I voted for a bill to hold Big Pharma accountable for their role in creating this crisis. Minnesotans shouldn’t have to foot the bill for the tragedy that these companies have inflicted on our communities. The bill would support a wide range of addiction prevention, education, intervention, treatment and recovery strategies, and passed by a 94-34 vote.
Big Pharma has collected billions in profits over the years without paying a dime to help Minnesotans get treatment or help law enforcement keep our communities safe. It’s time they start contributing to the solution. Holding big corporations accountable is the right thing to do and I am proud to support this bill.
You can read more from MPR here and listen to the astonishing story of the family that profits from the opioid crisis from the New York Times here.
Snow Day Relief
This hasn’t just been a difficult winter for farmers. The record snowfall and freezing temperatures have impacted all of us, especially our teachers and students. School districts have had to make the difficult but responsible decision to call snow days, and I’m proud to say that we passed legislation giving them some flexibility in planning and compensating their employees. Schools will be exempt from making up three of the Polar Vortex days. We also included provisions to enable hourly employees who weren’t paid on those days to make up that lost time.
You can read more about snow day relief here.
Hmong Cultural Center
On Wednesday Night the Legacy Finance committee heard my bill to fund Hmong performance, cultural heritage, and history grants. It would provide educational experiences, exhibits, programs, and events that celebrate Hmong culture with programs that focus on modern and traditional Hmong music, dance, ceremonial arts, and history.
These young men and women waited long hours to share their stories about the arts program led by community leader Tou SaiKo Lee. We need to fund this movement to not just preserve, but empower and engage generations to come.
Serving those who serve us
As a legislator and vice chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I’m committed to doing everything we can to support the men and women who have risen to the highest level of service to our country.
This week I also had a hearing on my veterans justice bill. It would appropriate money to a program to support, through education, outreach, and legal training, military veterans who are involved with the criminal justice system. This is just one measure I’m working on to make sure our veterans have the support they deserve.
I hope you’re having a great weekend and enjoying the wonderful weather! Please reach out if you have any questions or comments.
Saturday, March 16, 2019Neighbors,
Thanks for taking a minute off from celebrating St. Patrick’s Day to check out a quick update from the Capitol from your state legislator.
I testified in the Legacy Committee on Wednesday about my legislation to provide funding to the Hmong Museum in St. Paul. The money would go towards Hmong heritage programs to provide classes, exhibits, presentations, and outreach about Hmong history and cultural heritage. As a member of the MN Asian Pacific Caucus and the son of Hmong veterans and refugees, I have been building support and awareness around our underrepresented and misunderstood community.
The Hmong Museum is the first and only Hmong museum in the nation. Its mission is to recognize and document the arts, history, personal and family histories, and current issues facing Hmong people in Minnesota.
This week I introduced and spoke on behalf of the “People’s Bill,” which is comprehensive cannabis legalization bill. Speakers, activists and health care professionals spoke on behalf of legalization to benefit public safety, public health, economic development, and social and criminal justice initiatives. Polling shows that Minnesotans are ready for full legalization. It’s the right thing to do.
We have seen a failed century of drug prohibition on a substance that is not shown to be more dangerous than any other product you buy off the counter at a grocery store, drug store or liquor store. We have seen a failed century of drug wars and policies that have not been equally enforced across this country, more heavy-handed in poorer, darker communities.
For a hundred years, we have watched as law enforcement and policymakers enforced certain laws regarding certain drugs in certain communities, while turning a blind eye to certain other drugs and lax enforcement of other communities. The time for this racialized oppressive system of enforcement to end is now. It is this year in the Minnesota House, in our great State of Minnesota.
I want to thank the AmeriCorps Promise Fellows for joining me on Thursday as I shared with my colleagues in the Economic Development Committee how this program impacts underserved communities. I’ve authored H.F. 650 to keep at-risk students in school and on a pathway to graduation so that they’re prepared to join the workforce.
AmeriCorps alumni have become the teachers, counselors, and educators that our communities desperately need. Thank you for joining me, and for helping me advocate for this critical program.
Equity in Workforce Development
I want to thank my colleague Hodan Hassan for leading on H.F. 985, a bill which would appropriate money to the east African community economic development pilot grant program. The grant would go to Youthprise, which would give grants through a competitive process to community organizations to provide economic development services designed to enhance long-term economic self-sufficiency in communities with concentrated east African populations, such as the Twin Cities, Faribault, Rochester, St. Cloud, Moorhead, and Willmar. I’m a proud co-author of the bill.
Don’t forget to sign up for a 1:1 with me! I’d love to hear from you and catch up on what I’ve been doing at the legislature. Please RSVP via: https://goo.gl/forms/rHHEQ0bP60VbrUgX2
As always, you can reach me at email@example.com or 651-296-4201, and feel free to stop by my office if you’re ever near the Capitol. Have a great rest of your weekend.
Minnesota women deserve equal rights in all aspects of life. All Minnesotans should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of gender. That’s why on Thursday, the legislature approved the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ballot question to let Minnesotans decide whether or not to give everyone full equality under our Constitution. The Republican-controlled Senate is now responsible for determining whether voters will have that opportunity in 2020.
I want to thank my friend Kathleen Murphy and constituent Patty MacDonald, for fighting for this issue. I also want to thank Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein for championing equality and carrying this bill. I was proud to join my colleagues in voting yes on H.F. 13.
Visiting Minnesotans Where they Are
Last Friday in I had the chance to go to St. Cloud for a field hearing to talk about economic challenges and the workforce shortage in St. Cloud. Economic challenges go far beyond paychecks. It’s about job training, access to affordable housing, and transportation. As we heard in committee, it’s also about child care shortages, supporting our schools and our teachers, and early childhood education. I want to thank all the members of the Somali community who came to speak out about child care shortages, an issue prevalent in communities all across Minnesota.
I had a visit from an amazing group of leaders from Harding High School this week. They came as part of a Youth Energy Summit to advocate for the Green New Deal. Keep up the good fight!
I hope you have a great weekend! Stay safe during our (hopefully) last big snow storm. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.
You should be proud – you survived the snowiest February on record, only to be met with more cold and snow on the other side! Don’t worry, we have hot takes for you in this week’s legislative update.
I had a hearing last week on my bill to provide (much-needed) funds for the Kellogg Bridge repair, and I had the honor of Mayor Melvin Carter’s testimony on behalf of this important legislation. The bill also has the full support of the Capital Investment Committee, including Chair Mary Murphy.
You’ve probably heard me say it before – the ten thousand commuters who cross the Kellogg bridge every day rely in this infrastructure to get to their jobs, to soccer practice, to their families, and to the doctor. It connects Eastsiders with downtown St. Paul and the rest of the St. Paul community. Our state received a “C” grade on last year’s Infrastructure Report Card, and this bridge is the perfect example of investments our state needs to make in our roads, bridges, and sidewalks to keep our communities safe.
I want to say thank you to Anaa Jibicho, our 2019 Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year, for sharing his incredible story on how big an impact the BGC had on his life. The Boys and Girls Club (BGC) serves nearly 50,000 youth across the state. It is my honor to carry a bill increasing early access to education, job-seeking skills, and career pathways in STEM learning in partnership with the BGC, so that no child is denied access to a great education and opportunities to seek a better life.
Last week “Logan’s Law” was heard in the Judiciary Committee. I’m so glad Rep. Cantrell is carrying this bill in Minnesota, which was inspired by Eastsider’s own Logan Graf. Currently, state law makes it hard for female couples to become legal parents. If the bill is passed, when a woman conceives through assisted reproduction, her spouse would be treated in law as the biological parent and exempt from financial and emotional hardships.
Gun Violence Prevention
This week the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee met to hear two bills to address the epidemic of gun violence in our communities. HF 8 would require criminal background checks to be performed prior to all gun sales. HF 9 would provide for “red flag laws” allowing Minnesotans to temporarily remove an individual’s access to firearms if a court determines they may be a threat to themselves or others. Both bills passed the committee.
Minnesota’s background check system currently has loopholes allowing dangerous individuals to obtain guns through online dealers or through private sales. Evidence shows expanded background checks will save lives, and states which have taken this approach have experienced lower homicide rates, lower firearm suicide rates, and less firearm trafficking.
Minnesotans have been loud and clear about wanting their representatives to address gun violence. These measures will help keep our communities safe and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
1 on 1 Conversations
This month I will be holding events to hear from Eastsiders. The first event will be over a glass of Thai ice tea on Saturday, March 16th, from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM. Please RSVP for more information via: https://goo.gl/forms/e7ODzVluZiMLkeUZ2
The second 1 on 1 session will be at the last Saturday, March 30th, from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM. Please RSVP for more information via: https://goo.gl/forms/rHHEQ0bP60VbrUgX2
I look forward to seeing many of you. Please contact me with comments, questions, and ideas at any time. If you ever have plans to visit the capitol, please let me know! My office is in the State Office Building, and you are always welcome here.
Vice Chair, Veteran & Military Affairs Division
On Tuesday, Governor Walz released his two-year budget proposal for Minnesota. I am excited about the historic investments he committed to education, health care, safe and inclusive communities and transportation. His goals are very similar to what we are working here at the State Legislature, and I am optimistic that we will be able to make sure every child has a good teacher; make affordable health care a reality; expand access to affordable child care and housing; and improve the thousands of miles of roads and bridges that need repair.
This week, I joined my DFL and GOP colleagues with Majority Leader Ryan Winkler for a press conference to let all Minnesotans have the opportunity to attain a driver’s license. I met with some neighbors and the reality is this legislation will help improve the lives of many, from public safety to our economic vitality. As a son of refugee immigrants, as a leader from an underserved population, I am proud to fight for this legislation and share that it has broad statewide support from republicans, democrats, labor unions, law enforcement, and chambers of commerce.
Born and raised in public housing surrounded by poverty, drugs, and gang violence, I am proud to chief author HF 954 to keep kids out of trouble and prepare them for a strong future. This bill funds Big Brothers and Big Sisters – the oldest and largest mentoring program in MN. It helps kids facing adversity with strong, enduring relationships that help them beat the odds. The $1 million appropriation will provide workforce readiness, employment exploration, and skills development for youth ages 12 to 21.
I also wanted to share with you all that I proudly joined my colleagues in passing HF 13 – the Equal Rights Amendment out of the House Judiciary and Civil Law Division this week. This legislation is a proposed amendment to the United State Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender. While Minnesota has already ratified the federal ERA, this bill would demonstrative our renewed commitment to ensuring equal protection for all genders under our state Constitution.
It is an honor to serve you at the Capitol. Please contact me with comments, questions, and ideas at any time. If you ever have plans to visit the capitol, please let me know! My office is in the State Office Building, and you are always welcome here.
I want to thank all the Eastsiders who came to our town hall meeting this week, and everyone who has been engaged and active in the legislative session. We can’t lead without your input, and I appreciate each and every one of you that has taken the time to share your concerns, ideas and questions. At this week’s town hall we discussed housing, the opioid crisis, health care, cannabis legalization, drivers’ licenses for all, and how the legislature can continue to work to improve peoples’ lives. Majority Leader Ryan Winkler and Assistant Majority Leader Hodan Hassan joined me to talk about our Minnesota Values and making sure the legislature reflects those values.
Over 10 thousand commuters cross the Kellogg Bridge every day. Like all our infrastructure, people rely on it to get to work and to be part of the community, and it connects Eastsiders with downtown St. Paul. But all bridges need repairs. I’m excited to announce that I’ve introduced a bill to provide appropriate and much-needed funding to fix the bridge.
This week I met with representatives from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Chair of the Environment Committee, Rep. Rick Hansen, to discuss solutions to and the impact of the Pig’s Eye landfill – the committee will hold a legislative hearing this session on-site.
Sick and Safe Time
Yesterday in the Labor Committee we passed an earned sick and safe time bill, and I will keep you updated on the bill’s progress. I’m proud to work with chief author Rep. John Lesch to pass this legislation to allow Minnesotans the chance to take time off to care for loved ones when unexpected events get in the way of work schedules. People should be able to care for their families without sacrificing a paycheck, or fearing they won’t be able to afford the heating and medical bills.
Wednesday was “End Prohibition Cannabis Day on the Hill,” and I met with Rep. Mike Freiberg, Rep. Lien and activists who came from around the state to discuss efforts to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. I am a proud co-author of a bill (yes, bill number 420) that would legalize cannabis for people who are 21+ so we can begin to regulate, tax, and expunge the records of people who have been convicted of using marijuana.
I hope you’re having a great weekend. If you need anything, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4201.
Happy Saturday. There is a lot of important work happening at the Capitol this week.
Fighting for working people
In the wealthiest nation in the world, a person working full-time should not struggle to afford the basic things they need in life. We have a lot of work to do to ensure working people have opportunities to create a better life for themselves. This week we took steps in the legislature to make sure employers are not cheating workers of their earned wages – I proudly voted to advance the wage theft bill out of the Labor Committee.
We also passed a bill out of committee that provides funding for the workforce development nonprofit Helmets to Hardhats, which helps match veterans with apprenticeships, training, and good-paying jobs in the construction industry. As our state faces a record level of job vacancies, this program helps both small businesses and those who serve our nation by matching employers with the skilled workers they need to succeed.
The federal shutdown impacted thousands of employees in Minnesota. We are working to make sure we alleviate any financial stress Minnesotans face as a result of Washington’s inaction. I am proud to have voted for legislation to provide furloughed Minnesotans with interest-free loans to pass in the Labor Committee this week, and I am hopeful it will be signed into law.
Meeting with Constituents
This week I had the honor of meeting with Hmong farmers from the Eastside to hear about how we can support them in accessing capital, training, and affordable and long-term land near urban areas.
I also met with neighbors to talk about a measure to provide driver’s licenses to anyone who could pass the test and sufficiently prove their identity, without needing to show immigration status. This is a matter of social and economic justice. People should be able to fully participate in our economy and live productive lives without having their everyday driving habits criminalized. Several groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, have outlined their support for this bill. You can be assured of my strong advocacy for this proposal and I hope that this will be the year that we see it enacted into law.
Reminder: next Wednesday, February 13 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm I am co-hosting a town hall with Rep. Tim Mahoney and Sen. Foung Hawj. It will be at the Hope Community Academy, at 720 Payne Ave, St. Paul, MN.
I am also an author of Representative Long’s bill to move Minnesota to 100 percent clean energy by 2025, and was grateful to be able to meet with constituents this week about what that bill would mean for our environment and our community. The people most impacted by climate change are the ones who did the least to cause it. Each year, at least 2,000 people from the Twin Cities die early due to pollution. We can also create up to 50,000 new clean energy jobs with this bill. I'm proud to support this legislation for clean air, water and land.
On Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend the Minnesota Commanders’ Task Force event to support our veterans. We discussed actions the legislature can take to support our veterans. I am proud to be authoring several bills to address issues our veterans face.
Next Monday, February 11 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm, I will join the St. Paul District 1 Community Council at a community meeting about safety on McKnight Road. The meeting will be at the Battle Creek Recreation Center, 75 Winthrop St. S, St. Paul, and all are invited to attend! You can find more information on the Facebook event page here.
We’re working hard to advance measures to make our state work better for everyone. I firmly believe that all Minnesotans deserve access to great education, healthcare, housing and jobs.
Legislation to increase funding for English Language Learners was heard this week in a committee – the bill would significantly increase ELL funding for school districts across Minnesota. Students are not able to access the best education possible if they are experiencing language barriers, and data shows that students who have not fully mastered English have only a 40 percent chance of receiving a high school diploma. This program works, and it changes lives. You can read more about it here.
This week a bill was introduced to increase the number of Teachers of Color and Indigenous Teachers (TOCAIT). 34 percent of Minnesota’s students are children of color and American Indian, but only 4 percent of teachers in classrooms are TOCAIT. If passed, the legislation would expand existing pathways to teaching, strengthen efforts to retain effective teachers, and provide incentives to attract more students of color into the teaching profession with scholarships and student teaching grants to complete their preparation programs. We also introduced a bill to create a business development loan program for women of color,which I co-authored.
I voted this week in the Judiciary Committee to clarify the definition of sexual harassment. Current law says that sexual harassment needs to be severe or pervasive, which omits far too many serious cases of sexual harassment. The bill is now going to the House floor for a vote.
I am also the chief author of a bipartisan bill to provide career development funding for minority-based emergency medical service academies. I’m proud to author this bill to increase opportunities for people of color in a field that is already facing a labor shortage. It is a win-win for the fire departments, for people seeking a job in emergency medical services, and for our community.
If you have questions about any of the work we are doing, or want to offer your perspective, please do not hesitate to do so. You can reach me by email at email@example.com and by phone at 651-296- 4201.
State Representative – District 67B
I hope you have had a great week and are looking forward to the warmer temperatures this weekend. Here is a quick update on what I have been working on this week.
On Monday we held a press conference to discuss efforts to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. The bill would provide regulatory framework and would fund research studies of cannabis. It is time for Minnesota to follow the states that have been successful in legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana and expunging the records of people who are being unnecessarily punished for using this substance.
Teachers who Represent Our Communities
While the percentage of students of color continues to increase, Minnesota has a consistent shortage of teachers of color and Indigenous teachers. Only 4.2 percent of all teachers in Minnesota are teachers of color. We know that this contributes to achievement and opportunity gaps. Our teachers should reflect the diversity of our state. This is why I support a bill to provide scholarships to qualified teachers of color with financial needs, to help achieve that goal.
I co-authored legislation this week to expand funding for English Language Learners (ELL) from $704 to $1,400 per student. Hmong being my native language, I know that language barriers can prevent students from participating in and advocating for their own education. As a proud graduate of St. Paul Public Schools and former educator, it is important for us to ensure all Minnesotans receive an excellent education because no child should be denied of a world class education.
I am also a co-author of a bill introduced this week to increase funding for African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) which spurs economic development in African Immigrant communities. It provides technical assistance to small businesses, supporting entrepreneurs with training and workshops, issuing loans and fostering community development.
I also co-authored a bill to provide free public transit on Election Day, and another bill to increase voter assistance at the polls because I believe voting is a fundamental right. Our democracy depends on people being able to cast their ballot in favor of candidates who will represent their values and priorities. We should do everything in our power as legislators to make voting easier, not harder.
Gender-Based Violence Prevention
It is Gender-Based Violence Prevention week here at the Capitol. I am proud to be a co-author on legislation as we heard powerful testimony from family members of missing or murdered indigenous women on a bill to create a task force to end this heartbreaking epidemic. Similar bills have been introduced in past sessions, but have failed to pass under Republican control. If this bill were to pass, in addition to creating the taskforce, it would establish an annual report on the violence against indigenous women and girls.
Finally, the East Side has seen recent shootings take the lives of our neighbors and our loved ones. We should not sit idly by for even one unnecessary death, which is why I support common-sense gun violence prevention measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous and harmful people. H.F. 8 and H.F. 9 are good steps in the direction of keeping our community safe.
As always, if you want to talk about anything you can reach me at 651-296-4201 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stop by my office in room 423 of the State Office Building.