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
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
I recently returned from Nashville, where more than 150 legislators from 39 states met for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators to talk about plastic pollution, toxic chemicals, conserving land and water, reducing carbon, and more. I look forward to putting this information into action by enacting policies next session that will improve air and water quality for Minnesotans, advance environmental justice and equity in all our environmental conversations, and protect our great outdoors for generations to come.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) also met in Nashville - and I was appointed by the House Speaker to serve on the NCSL Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, as well as the Labor and Economic Development Committee.
Insulin For All
House DFL members are holding community conversations on insulin across the state because the voices of Minnesotans directly impacted by skyrocketing health care costs are going to be critical in promoting comprehensive solutions. All Minnesotans impacted by or concerned about the price of insulin are invited to come! Join us for the first one tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in room 120 of the Capitol.
Pathways to Prosperity
PSA: Pathways to Prosperity is leading a career training program in September - it's open to the public and will be going on from August 7-August 14 from 5:00-6:00pm each day at Merrick Community Services.
There's also a pre-office admin training, you can find the details here.
3M and our Environment
In 2018, the State of Minnesota settled a lawsuit against 3M for $850 million. Minnesota’s Attorney General sued 3M in 2010 for its use of toxic chemicals, which damaged drinking water and natural resources in the Twin Cities East Metro. It was just announced that that money will now go toward drinking water and natural resource projects in this region, and you can read the details of the plan here. This is good news, and I will continue to work with the MPCA and DNR to ensure we keep our environment safe and clean.
Let me know if you have any questions! I always like hearing from you.
Rep. Jay Xiong
I hope you're having a safe, smooth transition to driving hands-free!
I had the honor this week of joining St. Paul Public School educators with Education Chair Jim Davnie, where we heard from teachers about their need for more ethnic studies and dual language support. As a proud SPPS alumnus, former school teacher and SPPS staff, I know that it's our teachers who propel students to succeed. We need to give those teachers the tools they need to ensure that each and every student has fair and equitable opportunities.
This legislative session, we had success in fighting for historic, sustainable investments in our schools. We provided funding to increase the number of teachers of color from K-12 through higher education, so that all students can have a role model and leader that looks like them.
We also fought to expand funding for English Language Learners (ELL) from $700 to $1,400 per student. Commitment to equity and fairness to ALL Minnesotans means we need to lift up ELL students with an education that prepares them for post-secondary opportunities and success outside the classroom. We didn't get the outcome we fought for, but will continue to address this challenge.
To strengthen our legacy of equity and support for the arts this session, we provided funding for language preservation and immersion, for organizations that alleviate racial disparities, and funding to make sure under-served children have access to outdoor programs. Our commitment to arts and heritage are part of what makes Minnesota an equitable and welcoming community.
Have a great rest of your weekend!
Rep. Jay Xiong
The impact of last year's election was clear in this year's legislative session. Though there are many things the House DFL advocated for only to be shut down by the Republican-controlled Senate, we passed a progressive, inclusive budget that will improve Minnesotans' lives. We succeeded in making significant investments in education, blocked a hard-fought Republican proposal to remove health care for 1.2 million low-income Minnesotans, and made equitable investments in economic development.
Below is a quick overview of some of the things we accomplished.
This year, Republicans threatened to permanently eliminate access to affordable health care for Minnesotans - it was the thing they fought the hardest to achieve. In response, people poured into the Capitol to tell Republicans their stories, and how their plans to gut funding for the Health Care Access Fund would put their lives at risk. Thanks to Minnesotans’ determination, we protected health care for our working families, seniors, children, and people with disabilities.
• Elder Care: licensure framework for assisted living facilities, more streamlined enforcement of care standards, and enhanced rights, including the use of electronic monitoring for older and vulnerable adults and their families. Prior to this law, Minnesota was the only state in the country that did not license and regulate assisted living facilities.
• Medical Assistance Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (MA-TEFRA): reduce parental fees for families receiving TEFRA assistance.
• Women’s Health: In addition to resisting GOP attempts to interfere with women’s health care, we succeeded in achieving an increase in MA reimbursement for doula services and designate May as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month
• Funding Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth
• Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Program for MDH to award grants for community-driven and culturally relevant practices to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault.
• Prescription Drugs: establish pathway to emergency drug refills and creates a Minnesota prescription drug and medical supply repository program to allow donation of prescription drugs and some medicinal supplies if certain conditions apply. Furthermore, change in MA fee-for-service reimbursement outpatient prescription drugs to conform to MN law to federal requirements, keeping $190 M of at-risk federal funding.
• Health Coverage: Step therapy to control costs and risks associated prescription drugs by starting with the most cost-effective drug for a condition and then moving to costlier and riskier options only if necessary. Another change is requiring coverage for annual mammogram to include digital breast tomosynthesis (3-D) if an enrollee is at risk for breast cancer. Another legislation is including coverage mandate for Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANS/PANDAS).
The House DFL successfully prevented Republican cuts to education, securing four times their proposed funding level. Our budget makes investments in our teachers, students, and schools so we can prevent further cuts, layoffs, larger class sizes, and higher property taxes.
We made a small investment in increasing teachers of color and Indigenous teachers, but it's a fraction of the investment we need. While 34 percent of our students are students of color, only four percent of teachers are. This is a proven factor in our persistent opportunity gaps, and we'll continue to fight to close it.
• 2% and 2% increase in the general education formula ($388.8 M this biennium)
• 4,000 Voluntary Pre-K/School-Readiness Plus extending for an additional two years,
• Teacher Mentorship & Retention: Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers Act providing $1.5M in funding for a new program to recruit and support educators
• College State Grant Increase: invest $18M, a full-time student who qualifies will receive increase of $235 more per year
• MN Reconnection $2M program to help former students return to MN colleges to finish their degrees
• Student Loan Debt Counseling: $400K for grant from Office of Higher Education to Lutheran Social Services to administer statewide student loan/debt counseling service to MN residents
Jobs and Equity
We need to continue to fight for Minnesota’s working families by allowing men and women to take time off work for illness or for newborn children. Paid Family and Medical Leave was a priority this session, and we will continue to fight for it. However, we were able to establish some of the toughest wage theft laws in the nation this session -- a win for Minnesota families. Minnesota’s employees deserve an hour’s pay for an hour’s work, and we’re going to hold accountable those who deny workers their full paychecks.
We also took a comprehensive view of workforce development by investing a historic $15 million in affordable housing, protected pre-K for our youngest learners, promoted jobs in the clean energy sector, and passed a bill to increase workforce diversity for women, veterans, minorities, and small businesses.
• American Indian Opportunities & Industrialization Center, Northwest Indian Community Development Center: $1M to reduce academic disparities for American Indian students and adults
• Big Brothers & Big Sisters: $500K for workforce readiness, skills development for youth ages 12 to 21
• C.L.U.E.S.: $1.25M to address employment and education skill gaps for working families and underserved youth
• Hmong Chamber of Commerce: $250K to provide support for small businesses
• EMERGE: $500K address African and African-American employment opportunities, readiness training, credentialed training, support services, general education development fast track and adult diploma program
• YWCA St. Paul: $250K to provide job training services and workforce development programs
• Women in Nontraditional Jobs: $1.5M grant program to increase number of women in high-wage, high-demand, nontratidional occupations
• Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP): first increase since 1986 for cash assistance for low-income families
All Minnesotans deserve access to safe and affordable housing. We face a housing crisis and how we respond in the next several will determine if we are going to maintain our economic competitive edge as an affordable, high-quality of life state or whether housing costs will become unsustainable here. This year, we focused on protecting tenants’ rights and expanding access to affordable and safe housing.
• Housing Infrastructure Bonds: Additional $60M funding development of permanent rental housing and homeownership opportunities for low-and-middle income Minnesotans.
• Homework Starts with Home: $3.5M supports collaborative efforts between schools, housing organizations, and local governments to identify, engage and stabilize students experiencing homelessness and their families through rental assistance and supportive services.
• Family Homelessness Prevention & Assistance Program: $3.5M assisting families with children, single adults, and youth who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by providing funding for direct assistance or services related to coordinated entry, street outreach, prevention, and rapid re-housing.
• New lease requirements require the unit rented, duration of lease, move in and move out dates (if different then first or last day of the month), and prorated rent if applicable to appear on the first page of the lease. Also requires the tenant and landlord to have the option of the same notice period to ensure mutuality in the agreement. This ensures that tenants get exactly what they pay for and know what to expect when they sign the lease which helps prevent sudden expenses or unexpected gaps in housing.
We fought successfully to make our tax system fairer for families, seniors, and small businesses. We’ll put more money in the pockets of working families by providing a middle class tax cut, cutting taxes on Social Security, and increasing the income level Minnesotans can earn before paying a penny in taxes to $24,000. The bill expands tax credits for low-income people who work, especially those who are raising children, through a Working Family Tax Credit. For too long our tax system has favored corporations and the wealthy while under-funding schools and contributing to race, geography, and income-based opportunity gaps.
To-Do List For 2020
The Republican-led Senate blocked several important bills that were priorities for many of you. I look forward to working together to move the ball forward on these bills in the months to come:
• Pass the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act and other reforms to make prescription medication more affordable and hold big pharmaceutical companies accountable
• Enact common-sense gun violence prevention reforms
• Legalize cannabis, reparation and expunge the records of those who have used it
• Pass the 100% clean energy by 2050 standard, making Minnesota a national leader in renewable energy
• Make new investments in housing, specifically to address the loss of naturally occurring affordable housing in our communities
• Invest in a 21st Century transportation system that addresses roads, bridges and transit needs across the state including funding to replace Third Street/Kellogg Boulevard
• Restore voting rights for ex-felon Minnesotans who have served their time
• Ban conversion therapy
• Pass the Equal Rights Amendment
• Enact Logan’s Law so mothers can become rightful parents of their child
• Pass guaranteed paid family leave and earned sick-and-safe time for Minnesota workers
• Allow all Minnesotans to earn their driver's license, regardless of immigration status
Thank you for showing up this session, for your advocacy, and for sharing with me your priorities and challenges. I look forward to continuing the conversation about how to make our state a better place to live throughout the summer!
Rep. Jay Xiong
Vice Chair, Military & Veterans Affairs Policy & Finance Division
Like it or not, it'll be August before you know it. That means some of the policies we passed in the legislature will go into effect, and I want to make sure you have all the information you need – including for the hands free while driving law!
- States that have passed hands free while driving laws have already seen major decreases in traffic fatalities. This law will help keep us safe from distracted drivers - but make sure you know all there is to know - here's a helpful fact sheet from the Department of Public Safety.
- A woman shared her story of having no legal recourse when a man grabbed her buttocks while she was holding her child. The "buttocks bill" closes a legal loophole that excluded certain sexual assaults from sexual harassment law, and our bill to fix it goes into effect August 1st.
- Our pharmacy benefit manager bill will bring transparency to prescription drug prices, which have skyrocketed in recent years. Pharmacy benefit managers are a powerful but little-known middle man that drive up prescription drug costs.
- There are employers in Minnesota who refuse to pay for overtime hours or skim money off the top of workers' paychecks, that's wage theft! Minnesotans deserve every dollar they've earned, and our bill to crack down on enforcement of wage theft will take effect at the beginning of the month.
We have a comprehensive list of policies that will go into effect on August 1st here
(https://www.house.mn/hinfo/leginfo/0819nlrelease.pdf). If you have questions about any of them, please feel free to call or email me. Or, you can come to our town hall meeting from 1-2pm at Culver's on Old Hudson Road on the 28th! More details below.
I hope you're having a great summer, and please reach out with any questions or comments!
Rep. Jay Xiong
Vice Chair, Military & Veteran Affairs Division
Friday, July 12, 2019
Neighbors,I hope you're having a great summer!
The City of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a Community Listening Session for Indian Mounds Regional Park on Monday July 22 from 5:30-7pm at Marian Center of Saint Paul, 200 Earl Street, Saint Paul, MN 55106.
We'll be meeting to understand the cultural significance of the site and discuss an approach toward long-term management and future land use of the park. The meeting is open to all and we want to hear your questions, suggestions, and comments. Bonus: a light meal will be available before the listening session from 5-5:30pm.
Please feel free to continue reaching out to me with thoughts and questions on the legislative session so far. Hope to connect soon!
Rep. Jay Xiong
POCI Caucus Members Announce Meeting on Child Abuse and Neglect at Southern Border, Impact of Potential ICE Raids in Minnesota
Wednesday, June 26, 2019POCI Caucus Members Announce Meeting on Child Abuse and Neglect at Southern Border, Impact of Potential ICE Raids in Minnesota
St. Paul, Minn. – Members of the Minnesota Legislative POCI Caucus (People of Color and Indigenous) invite Minnesotans to participate in a public informational meeting Friday, June 28 from 9-11 a.m. in Room 120 at the State Capitol. The focus of the meeting is to present information about the humanitarian crisis occurring at America’s southern border as a result of the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, as well as the impact of potential ICE raids on Minnesota families and communities.
The meeting, to be co-chaired by POCI Caucus Reps. Jamie Becker-Finn and Fue Lee, is an opportunity for members of the public to get the facts from immigration attorneys and legal experts, and hear from Minnesotans impacted by the Trump Administration’s policies.
A Facebook event will be updated with more information as it becomes available. Members of the press are invited to attend and cover the event.
Friday, June 21, 2019POCI Caucus Statement on Right-Wing Backlash Against Immigrants in St. Cloud
St. Paul, MN – Minnesota’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus today released the following statement in response to yesterday’s New York Times article that found pervasive Islamophobia and racism in St. Cloud and central Minnesota:
"Yesterday's coverage from the New York Times shined a light on persistent bigotry, intolerance, and fear mongering against our neighbors. The statements from St. Cloud elected officials and those who claim to be community leaders demonstrate a complete lack of knowledge of the many contributions immigrants - from Somalia to Norway - make to our state, and must not be tolerated.
"The POCI caucus is resolved to continue our work to root out hate and to create a more inclusive Minnesota - because we know that all Minnesotans contribute to the prosperity and success of our communities."
The article included a quote from Kim Crockett, vice president and general counsel of a conservative think tank, saying, "These people aren't coming from Norway, let's put it that way. These people are very visible."
According to the article, an anonymous woman claimed she felt uncomfortable with a Somali-American presence explaining, “They were just —” she said, searching for the words to describe the offending behavior of the Somali-Americans. “They were just walking around.”
The People of Color & Indigenous (POCI) Caucus includes Reps. Jamie Becker-Finn (42B), Aisha Gomez (62B), Hodan Hassan (62A), Kaohly Her (64A), Mary Kunesh-Podein (41B), Fue Lee (59A), Alice Mann (56B), Carlos Mariani (65B), Rena Moran (65A), Mohamud Noor (60B), Ruth Richardson (52B), Samantha Vang (40B), Jay Xiong (67B), Tou Xiong (53B), and Sens. Melisa Franzen (49), Foung Hawj (67), Jeff Hayden (62), Bobby Joe Champion (59), and Patricia Torres-Ray (63).
Saturday, May 18, 2019Hola, Minnesotanos!
Con un nuevo presupuesto estatal aprobado tanto en la Cámara de Representantes de Minnesota como en el Senado, los miembros de la Legislatura ahora pasan la mayor parte del tiempo en negociaciones tratando de encontrar un consenso. Muchos legisladores recibieron citas para los comités de conferencia, que están celebrando audiencias públicas para identificar similitudes y diferencias en los presupuestos de la DFL de la Cámara de Representantes y el Senado Republicano.
El presupuesto de DFL de la Cámara de Representantes se denomina Presupuesto de Valores de Minnesota, porque sabemos que los presupuestos son más que simples números en una hoja de cálculo: están arraigados en nuestros valores más preciados. Los Minnesotanos se preocupan el uno por el otro, y queremos vernos triunfar. Queremos escuelas excelentes y atención médica asequible para nuestras propias familias, y queremos lo mismo para nuestros vecinos, amigos, familiares y compañeros de trabajo.
Los demócratas de la Cámara de Representantes de Minnesota y los republicanos del Senado tienen enfoques muy diferentes al presupuesto estatal. El gobernador Walz y los demócratas de la Cámara de Representantes fueron elegidos por hacer campaña para hacer nuevas inversiones en la gente de Minnesota, ya sea en nuestras escuelas, atención médica, carreteras, tránsito, ancianos y familias trabajadoras. El presupuesto republicano del Senado protege las lagunas fiscales de las empresas y reduce los servicios básicos de atención médica para cientos de miles de nuestros vecinos y amigos.
Estén atentos para otra actualización sobre las negociaciones del presupuesto.
With a new state budget approved in both the Minnesota House and Senate, members of the Legislature are now spending the majority of time in negotiations trying to find consensus. Many legislators received appointments to conference committees, which are holding public hearings to identity similarities and differences in the House DFL and Senate Republican budgets.
The House DFL budget is called the Minnesota Values Budget, because we know that budgets are more than just numbers on a spreadsheet – they are rooted in our most cherished and deeply held values. Minnesotans care about each other, and we want to see one another succeed. We want great schools and affordable health care for our own families, and we want those same things for our neighbors, friends, relatives, and co-workers.
Minnesota House Democrats and Senate Republicans have very different approaches to the state budget. Governor Walz and House Democrats got elected by campaigning on making new investments in the people of Minnesota – whether it’s our schools, health care, roads, transit, elders, and working families. The Senate Republican budget protects corporate tax loopholes and cuts basic health care services for hundreds of thousands of our neighbors and friends.
Stay tuned for another update about budget negotiations.