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.