Saturday, September 28, 2019
I hope you've had a great week. News from your State Capitol this week includes an update on insulin and prescription drugs, a new climate caucus, a trip to Memphis to discuss environmental justice, and a visit to the Iron Range.
Climate Change CaucusI fully support the young people around the world who took part in the Youth Climate Strike and am excited to announce that I am a founding member of the new House Climate Caucus. I'm very much looking forward to working together to fight for Minnesotans (of all ages) who are demanding we take action to protect their future. Climate change is one of the top issues that I hear about in our community. It's been awesome to see people from across the state organizing in their communities and urging legislators to take action.
More information about the Climate Action Caucus is available here.
I also got the chance to go to Memphis for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) Mississippi River Conference in Memphis, Tennessee. Other legislators from districts along the Mississippi and I discussed all the ways we can protect the river, from flood resilience to sustainable agricultural practices, and community water access to water quality preservation. It was an important conversation, knowing BIPOC face the greatest threats from climate change and that we're on the road to more justice, healing, and righting wrongs. It was also a great opportunity to work together with our downstream neighbors to improve the health of the Mississippi River.
Insulin and Prescription DrugsThis month, DFL lawmakers held a series of Community Conversations to address the soaring cost of insulin and prescription drugs.
The meetings, in Burnsville, Richfield, St. Cloud, and Shorewood, were an opportunity for us to hear personal stories from Minnesotans, develop a bill to help address some of the challenges people are facing, and put pressure on Big Pharma to end price gouging. We held a final hearing at the Capitol on Thursday to discuss the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act and other solutions to address the skyrocketing cost of insulin and other prescription drugs. The price of insulin has tripled in the last decade, and studies indicate that 1 in 4 diabetics have resorted to rationing their insulin due to the high cost.
Trip to the Iron RangeI recently went north with my House colleagues - we visited the Iron Range to talk about the work underway to create new jobs and grow the green economy throughout our state. Minnesota’s a leader in green technology and it was great to hear about some of the ways we can support a diverse economy through clean technology and innovation.
Mini Session in WinonaNext week, we're taking session on the road! From October 2-4, we’ll be holding a historical mini-session in Winona and the surrounding communities. Southeastern Minnesota will host legislators as a number of committee hearings, roundtable discussions, and informative tours will take place in Winona, Austin, and Rochester.
The mini-session is a chance for my colleagues and I to see our work through a different lens outside of St. Paul. The last mini-session was in 1997 in Willmar, and we’re hoping our work this year restarts the tradition of holding offsite hearings as part of our efforts to make the Minnesota House more responsive and accessible. You can find an agenda of events here. I'll be in Austin, for the elections hearing on census and in the legacy, judiciary, jobs & economic hearings.
Apply for the Page Program!Our House of Representatives High School Page Program is an awesome opportunity for students in their Junior year! Applicants can participate in a wide variety of activities to enhance their understanding of our state government and the legislative process. Some of the activities include:
Gun Violence in our Community Finally, I want to make note of yet another fatal shooting that took place in our community. Our community should not accept this as a new normal. Whether this incident happened in Dayton's Bluff or Sun Ray doesn't matter. Our Eastside electeds and community leaders, including the Horn of Africa led by Amin Omaer will hold a conversation with the community in the coming weeks. We need to come together as community and address the public health pandemic that is gun violence. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victim. We deserve better, and we can do better.
I hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend,
Rep. Jay Xiong
Thursday, September 26, 2019
It's important that our community is part of the conversation about how to create a comprehensive, equitable, community-based framework for legalization and the most thoughtful adult-use cannabis law in the country.
Legalizing cannabis for responsible adult use will expand access and affordability for people who rely on it to treat PTSD or chronic pain, allow law enforcement to focus their resources on serious crimes, reduce the racial injustice that has permeated enforcement of cannabis laws, and provide relief for the thousands of minor offenders who have been swept up in our criminal justice system.
We want to hear what Minnesotans think, which is why we launched statewide Community Conversations on Cannabis to hear from people in every corner of our state. Join us in St. Paul to #BeHeardOnCannabis.
When: Thursday, October 10, 7:00 PM
Where: Hallie Q. Brown Community Center
Who: Hosted by myself, along with Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, Assistant Senate Minority Leader Jeff Hayden, Sen. Sandra Pappas, Rep. Alice Hausman, Rep. Rena Moran, and featuring a Community Leader Panel with Sina Black, Andrea Brown, and Julia Decker
You can sign up for updates, take the Speaker’s cannabis survey, and find a community conversation near you at a new website here.
I hope you can join but if you can't, there will be many more opportunities.
Rep. Jay Xiong
Saturday, September 07, 2019
Our community has not been spared from the gun violence that has impacted our country this summer. St. Paul has been devastated by one tragic shooting after another. I co-authored universal background checks and Red Flag legislation that would bring common sense to the gun violence debate, but the Senate GOP wouldn't budge and we continue to see senseless gun deaths.
But we know that just pulling guns off the streets won't stop the pain impacting people in our community. There is no miracle cure for the public safety and mental health crisis, for the conditions that manifest long before a trigger is pulled. Gun violence prevention bills are good, but we need to take a holistic approach to preventing the causes of suicide and gun violence. That includes the Red Flag laws and universal background checks killed by the Senate, but it also includes investing in education and community programming, and in mental health and economic development. I am resolved to continuing to work to make our community safe, vibrant, and healthy.
First Week of School
I want to wish good luck to all of the teachers, parents, students and staff who are beginning a new year of school at St. Paul schools!
For decades, Minnesota's financial commitment to schools has fallen short, but this year the House passed quite a few measures to support our classrooms. All of our school districts will see a two percent increase per student this year, and again next year. Though this isn't nearly enough, it should help schools avoid teacher layoffs, closures, program cuts and larger class sizes. We also protected pre-K for 4000 early learners, and addressed a shortfall in special education funding.
Minnesota has one of the largest opportunity gaps in the country. While 34 percent of students are students of color, only four percent of our teachers are. We made meaningful strides to close the gap that has left Minnesota ranked 47th in the nation in racial disparities by investing in recruiting and training for teachers of color, and boosting tribal schools to the same levels as the state's average funding.
State Fair Poll
Thank you to those of you who stopped by the House of Representatives booth to visit and complete the nonpartisan legislative survey. Here's a breakdown of some of the poll results, which indicate that Minnesotans are in agreement with many of the things the House DFL is fighting for, including the gun violence prevention measures I mentioned earlier.
Urban Roots is an East Side institution dedicated to community development, and they're looking for an associate director! If you're considering applying, you can do so here.
I hope you're enjoying the weather as summer winds down! As always, let me know if you have any questions, thoughts or comments.
Rep. Jay Xiong