2015/2016 Session Update
Because of the hard work we did in the 2013 and 2014 legislative session and the leadership of Governor Dayton, our economy is headed in the right direction, our budget is stable, and our state is out from under the economic challenges of the great recession.
We continued some of that progress. One of our best accomplishments was passing drug sentencing reform. But both 2015 and 2016 were years of many missed opportunities. Due to partisanship, the legislature failed to pass a much needed transportation bill to fix our roads, bridges, and public transit. The legislature failed to address the economic challenges facing everyday Minnesotans, failed to fully invest in our children, failed to reinstate voting rights, failed to address the many racial, educational, and economic disparities that disproportionately impact our communities of color.
Our agenda for 2017.
Despite partisanship, we were able to reach across the aisle in 2014 to pass funding for all-day kindergarten. Now it is time to do the same hard, bipartisan work and address the grave disparities that many of our preschoolers face in our low opportunity communities.
Those schools must be safe; we passed the Safe Schools Act, and now we need to fully fund our schools to give our teachers the tools they need. In addition we need to stop policing our schools. We must treat our young scholars for who they are rather than treating them as criminals.
The city, county and state need to work together to attract businesses and manufacturing to the Northside that will bring jobs and wealth to the community so that we will see real progress for all members of our community and not just a small few. It is critical that we reduce high unemployment in communities of color by closing the opportunity gap in education and job training. In addition, we need a 21st century community policing strategy that works with our communities and not against them. While our police have 21st century equipment and technology it is still mired in a erroneous 20th century method of “protecting” our communities.
We need full and automatic restoration of voting rights, so those who’ve served their time can vote as soon as they’re free – which is why I’ve fought for this for years and will continue to do so this next legislative session and every session until it passes. When we gain back control of the house in November of 2016, this will be our first priority and will pass in 2017.
Passing drug sentencing reforms was a good first step. Now we must make those sentencing guidelines retroactive.
We need to make sure that the dollars spent on transportation are spent in a comprehensive way that meet the needs of all our communities.
We passed a strong bonding bill in 2015 to re-invigorate Nicollet Mall, so that our downtown can keep some of the state’s biggest economic engines in our district. We need to fund the Waterworks Park in Mill District, support smart density and growth downtown and in North Loop, preserve our green spaces, and encourage green building.
Minnesota’s strength is the strength of our communities – all our communities, working together toward a common goal. I look forward to joining you in that effort this year.