Getting Results for Minnesota
Getting laws passed in a body where over 4,000 ideas in bill form compete for consideration is not easy. But I’ve proven successful in getting laws changed in a process that involves getting the approval of the majority of 201 legislators with different perspectives. As you can see below, I’m not afraid to take on the tough issues or major special interests like the insurance companies and polluting industries.
I’ve served our community 13 years — long enough to now become a committee chair and be in the inner circle of decision making. While seniority may not be the best approach, it’s the tradition and unlikely to change. While the DFL has been the minority party, I’ve been appointed the DFL lead on Property Taxes and Local Government Finance and Health and Human Services Finance.
Here's some examples (see specific topic areas for others):
- Part of the small team that guided through an income tax raise on the top 2% of earners and used the funds generated for education at all levels (pre-school, k-12, and a two year tuition freeze in higher ed), funding for our local governments, environmental improvements and more.
- Passed a law allowing young adults to remain on family health insurance before it later became federal law.
- Led the successful fight against a House Republican passed bill to allow junk health insurance policies in MN - policies that wouldn't have to cover emergency care, prescription drugs, pregnancy care, cancer care, mental health and other frequent health care needs. I got the press engaged and my tweets on this went viral and engaged citizens across the state.
- Successfully led the fight against the health insurance industry to allow lifetime limits on health insurance.
- Passed the first in the nation ban on triclosan - a once common ingredient in soaps proven to be bad for our health and a pollutant in our lakes and rivers. The national chemical industry brought in their best lobbyists and it wasn't easy - they blocked it in the Senate. But I was able to use my skill at legislative process to pass it in the House first in a way that enabled another Senate vote. It was later banned nationwide by the federal government.
- Three times raised the statewide minimum wage including adding inflation adjustments (now $9.65 an hour for most vs. federal wage of $7.75). Fought efforts to prevent Minneapolis and other cities from enacting their own policies that reflect the higher costs of living in their cities.
- Authored the first $15 hour an hour minimum wage bill introduced in the legislature targeted at direct care workers helping persons with disabilities and frail seniors live in the community. (The low pay in these female and minority dominated careers has led to severe vacancies and made it difficult for people with disabilities to remain employed and caused too many seniors to move to institutional care when home care was a less expensive and more satisfying better option.)
- Fought for years to bring marriage equality into law. One of the most satisfying votes I've ever cast made marriage available for all.
- I work with our legislators of color to address disparities in all areas of life. Four times named a Champion of Racial Justice based on the bills authored and votes cast.
- A strong champion of a fair workplace I've worked with our unions and others to assure all have a better opportunity at fairness on the job, a living wage, benefits, and retirement security through various amendments and laws.
- Ended career discrimination against teachers who had to miss work due to an illness, accident, or maternity leave.
- When I found out the waiting list for sliding fee assistance with child care costs was over 5,000 families, and the average wait for help by those qualified for it in Hennepin County was over three and a half years, I went to work. It's now down to wait times of less than one year. I'm not stopping until there's no wait list. Research shows that early childhood investments are the fastest way to reducing the education achievement gap among racial, ethnic and low income students.
- Increased funding for and created better supports for persons experiencing mental health challenges. One in four will experience a serious mental health challenge sometime in their life.
- A major leader on increasing the opportunities for persons with disabilities to lead fuller, more independent and satisfying lives. I've helped create bipartisan partnerships on this so that year by year progress is made no matter what party is in charge.
- Required a Forest Protection Plan so our state and local governments would be better prepared to respond to Emerald Ash Borer and other new tree pests. We were ready when the first Emerald Ash Borers were found in St. Paul, then S.E. Minneapolis. A billion ash trees in Minnesota are at risk.
- Secured the first state funds for tree replacement. Planting a diverse variety of trees in our urban and community forests is one of our best defenses against global warming and addresses air quality, erosion and water quality.
- Set tough goals and achieved record results in minority and female hiring and the use of local small businesses in the major restoration of the State Capitol. This proved it could be done and is the basis for the same expectations for all state projects. (At least two area firms - Gaytee Glass and Aaron Carlson Woodworking were involved along with a number of local residents employed in the work.)
- Assured that Arts, Culture and History and Clean Water were included in the Legacy Amendment passed by the voters. The result has created stability for the over 1,000 artists of all types in our district, engaged them in our schools, created free performance and education opportunities for all ages, and formed the basis for cleaning up pollution in our lakes, rivers and streams.
- Proposed and co-chaired the Governor's Capitol Arts Committee that has created new opportunities for Minnesota artists to display their talents in our restored Capitol.
- Passed various health insurance and tax policies to benefit small businesses.
- Increased the homeowners and renters credit to make housing more affordable. Successfully led the fight to stop the proposal to end the renters credit.
- Secured increased funds for city, county and school services to support the services we rely on and reduce the reliance on property taxes.
- Created and passed the Statewide Health Improvement Program that addresses health disparities and promotes health and wellness in all parts of the state. It's spin off programs include Safe Routes to School to help build bikepaths and sidewalks to promote kids getting to school actively instead of sitting on buses, Farm to School bringing healthy vegetables and fruits to cafeterias that too much relied on canned or processed ingredients, improved nutrition and snack policies in day cares and schools, fresh produce in convenience stores, and more efforts that make the healthy choice the easy choice. It has documented results in reducing childhood obesity, promoting increased physical activity at all ages, and in reducing teen use of tobacco.
- Authorized Hennepin Health, the nationally recognized innovative health and support service delivery model that has been shown to stabilize lives and improve health among those with serious chronic health issues while reducing overall costs.
- A leader on passing the taproom law that has led to hundreds of jobs there and in our local restaurants.
- Led the effort to eliminate the barriers to local distilleries that has resulted in 4 local businesses. (Inspired to do this after the local founders of 45th Parallel went to Wisconsin as Minnesota's high licensing fee was about $25,000 higher than theirs. After hearing that I went to work.)
- Author and supporter of Sunday Sales - voted for it when only 20 others joined me. Persistence and the will of the people made it eventually happen. Authorizing it first in the sale of Growlers at our taprooms introduced many to locally made craft beer.
Getting Results for the Eastside
I love this community and love working with its diverse residents and people of all ages to make it even better. I did this as a volunteer for years before being elected and am honored to now do this at the State Capitol on your behalf. I believe candidates and elected officials should always have good answers to the question of "What have you done for us lately?" I'm dedicated to making a lasting difference for you and all who live in our community.
Here's some examples:
Before being elected:
- When the NE Library was proposed to be closed (the 5th most used branch in the city), I formed and led the Save the NE Library group that engaged hundreds of residents across the area in a successful effort to see that it remained open.
- When a recession meant our teenagers and college students couldn't find jobs, as a volunteer I wrote a federal jobs bill grant that resulted in summer landscaping jobs beautifying our area and improving our environment. A triple win!
- I joined with area residents and environmental groups to secure the conversion of the Riverside Excel Plant from coal burning to much cleaner natural gas. No more health robbing soot in our lungs or contributions to global warming.
- As an active member of Public Education Northeast, I worked with area parents to get better program equity for our kids (Edison was the last high school to get Advanced Placement classes) and prevented the proposed closure of Waite Park and Northeast Middle Schools.
As our elected state representative:
- Worked with Rep. Jim Davnie to pass a law to change the Mpls School Board from all being elected citywide to also including district representatives. Worked hard on the resulting school referendum. The result is NE and SE Mpls will always have their own local school board member. Before passage of this our area hadn't had a school board member for 12 years (the southside's higher voting kept our candidates on the losing side) and we were negatively affected when budget cuts were proposed.
- When the 35W bridge collapsed, I was actively engaged in traffic and transit recovery, secured payments for the victims and those injured, and assured the new bridge had a lower "hump" and a de-icing system. (The old bridge was the scene of deaths and accidents in the years before when mist from St Anthony Falls would freeze into unexpected ice and motorists couldn't see the traffic spinouts ahead.)
- Bridges are a key connector in our area - and they're old. Moved the Lowry and Plymouth Bridges to the top of the over 1,000 bridges in need list and secured funds for their replacement and repair when sudden closures were required to protect our safety. Also secured state funds for the St Anthony Parkway Bridge over the railroad yard and the improvements needed for the 10th Ave Bridge. Next up - the 3rd Ave. bridge.
- Secured funding for the acquisition of 11 acres of riverfront land for parks and trails, making major progress with the Park Board on a many decades long dream.
- Secured state funds for the All Wars Veterans Memorial and Peace Gardens on the river working with area veterans, several of whom died from war related health conditions during the pursuit.
- Prepared our state for the Emerald Ash Borer invasion and secured tree replacement funds so we can quickly replace them.
- While she voted against all stadium bills and actively worked against their large public subsidies, I worked with the Twins bill author when it was clear it would pass and secured ongoing funding for additional library hours. (At the time hours had been cut back and the average school night wait for use of a computer at local libraries was 2 hours for a half hour of time. Even now almost 20% of Minneapolis residents don't have internet access at home.)
- My "10 top reasons for why the Vikings Stadium Bill is not good for Minneapolis" went viral. Unfortunately it and the opposition couldn't overcome the support of Mayor Rybak and the majority of the city council. We will be paying for it until 2046.
- Re-established the Hennepin Environmental Response Fund which has funded the pollution cleanup of many former industrial sites in our area so that they could be rehabbed into the home of new small businesses.
- Worked with Somali immigrants to address their unique needs in mental health, access to business opportunities, and increased funding for Adult Basic Education.
- Helped lead the effort to assure the Arts, Culture and History were included in the Legacy funding proposal passed by the voters. This has sustained the growth and health of our arts community of over 1,000 artists, connected them to our schools, and increased access to free performances and learning for all ages.
- Supported tuition freezes, increased financial aid, and needed new buildings and rehabilitation at the higher ed campuses that serve our residents.
And much, much more. Year by year I am dedicated to making a difference for us and our community.