Monday, January 28, 2019
I hope you had a restful weekend and that you will continue to stay safe while we brace for a polar vortex. The legislative session doesn’t stop for cold weather, and I want to update you on the things we have been working on.
Equal Rights Amendment
The issue of equal rights has not been discussed in the Minnesota legislature for a decade – until last week. An Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) bill received its first public hearing on Thursday and unanimously passed the Government Operations Committee. That means it goes on to the Ways and Means Committee and, if signed into law, would put a question on the 2020 ballot asking Minnesotans to include gender equality in our state constitution.
A second ERA bill, which would ask Congress to remove the deadline for passing an ERA in the U.S. Constitution, passed committee and will soon be debated on the House Floor.
I strongly believe in giving Minnesotans the chance to cast their ballot for equality and fairness. Equal rights cannot be assumed and all Minnesotans deserve equality under the law. You can read more about the ERA bills here.
St. Paul Delegation
Our St. Paul delegation hosted a celebratory welcome reception last week to meet with members of our community and fellow legislators – we discussed how we are going to work together to strengthen our St. Paul community and improve the lives of all our constituents. Thanks to our St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Visit St. Paul Foundation Board, and Minnesota Children’s Museum for a productive event.
Update on fuel spill at Battle Creek
Last week, I spoke with staff from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) who shared with me the impact of the fuel spill at Battle Creek. My office is monitoring this case closely and will give updates as we learn more. Here is the latest from MPCA:
The fuel spill came from a locomotive and occurred in Canadian Pacific’s (CP) rail yard. The release was medium size, however two contributing factors made its impacts larger.
1) Usually a release like this in a railyard stays contained in the pooling up and/or soaking into the soil (which can be removed). In this case, the fuel found a way to surface water (Battle Creek/Pig’s Eye Lake).
2) The surface water had a number of ducks and geese in it at the time of the release. Waterfowl covered in fuel is a very uncommon situation with a spill of this size; even one that reaches surface waters.
The MPCA will continue removal, treatment, and water sampling at Battle Creek and Pig’s Eye Lake. The MPCA and CP are working together to clean up and monitor the site. You can read more here.
I want to invite you to a community meeting on February 11 from 6:30-8:30pm about safety on McKnight Road. I will join the St. Paul District 1 Community Council, Ramsey County Public Works, and other county representatives to share information and answer questions at the Battle Creek Recreation Center in St Paul. You can find more details at the Facebook page here. I hope to see you on February 11!
Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Last week I took time to reflect on the timeless values that unite us. The values of justice, peace, and doing right by all human beings. This legislative session, we are proud to be making history in the Minnesota legislature. We know this would not be possible without leaders like Dr. King.
I hope you’ll continue to follow along as we stir up good trouble in the legislature. I am here to elevate the voices of those who have been underrepresented or forgotten, and to make sure all Minnesotans have a say in our state government. Regardless of weather, Minnesotans love our state and we want to see one another succeed.
Monday, January 21, 2019
It is a new year and the start of session is already off to a speedy and busy two weeks for me. I am so excited to be here to work for you and to have your support. I have always advocated for our St. Paul community. I have worked in our public schools, led nonprofits to get out the vote, and helped run campaigns to elect progressive leaders. That spirit of service is why I stepped up to lead the East Side in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Together, we sent a message that we will not tolerate politics of hate, bigotry and discrimination. Thank you for electing me to represent you at the Capitol.
I stand on the shoulders of giants. Many great leaders whose progressive visions I inherit have come before me. I will never forget that as we fight on in the new legislative session. Our great state has a proud and long history of true progressive champions. I want to thank Sheldon Johnson, who has given so much of his life to public service. Sheldon has been a staunch champion of the East Side and our neighborhoods, and his wisdom and intelligence have guided us through great changes in the city. We will work hard to continue his spirit of hard work and cooperation.
As a son of refugees and proud child of a veteran, I am honored to serve as the vice chair for the Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Division. Furthermore, I am excited to share that my background in workforce development prepares me well to serve on the Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division. I look forward to being on Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division, the very same committee I staffed four years ago as a legislative aide. I also look forward to advocating for our Eastside as a proud member of the Labor and the Legacy Finance Division committees.
Rep. Xiong with DFL House Caucus members on the first day of session
Minnesota Values Agenda
Minnesotans love our state, and we want to see all of our neighbors succeed. We want affordable healthcare, high-quality education for our children, jobs that provide for our families, and for everyone to feel safe at home, school, work, and our public spaces. That’s why my House DFL colleagues and I introduced the Minnesota Values Agenda, to begin the conversation we want to have about improving the lives of all Minnesotans.
Bills I Have Co-authored
I am a former educator in charter schools and former staffer of the public school districts. That is why I co-authored a bill that maintains funding for our E.L.L. programs, expands recruitment of more diverse teaching talent, and continues funding for early childhood education. The greatest resource we have is our children, and this is the most important investment we must make to society.
Another matter which is important to the health and wellness of all Minnesotans is the prevention of wage theft and the improvement of paid sick leave policies. If our workers are not well, business is not well, and the state workforce cannot be its most productive. Related to this are bills to expand MinnesotaCare, and bills to prevent predatory prescription drug price gouging. Our people cannot be abused and taken advantage of. As Boomers retire, we must respect and take care of our aging workforce and retirees. I will never tolerate any company taking advantage of you.
I also joined my colleagues Representative Raymond Dehn and Representative Samantha Vang in co-authoring legislation to making voting more accessible to our disenfranchised communities.
This week, I had several opportunities to meet and hear from many of you. Thank you so much for sharing your concerns. I will make sure you are aware of all upcoming listening sessions.
Rep. Xiong speaking at a Children’s Defense Fund event
Thank you so much for your support. We have a lot of work to do, and I look forward to hearing from you and being your voice at the Minnesota House of Representatives. Please contact me and my office to share your ideas and concerns on policies. I am excited to keep in touch and continue this great work together. I hope you have a restful and reflective day celebrating the work and legacy of the honorable Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.