March 26, 2021


Dear Neighbor,

    The 2021 legislative session has reached its half-way point. Policy committee deadlines have passed, and the legislature will be on Easter-Passover break next week. When we return from break, the focus will be on committees passing omnibus budget bills. All budget bills must be referred to the Finance Committee by April 9th. After that, the Senate and House will pass their respective bills and conference committee work will begin. As we approach the final eight weeks of the legislative session, I will continue to work with my colleagues on the issues that matter, including a budget that is balanced fairly and makes investments that prioritize the real needs that Minnesotans have as we continue to recover from the pandemic. I hope you'll keep in touch as these important bills move forward.

Budget Targets

     Senate Republicans released their budget targets for the 2021-22 biennium. The targets would leave thousands of Minnesotans without the proper support they need to get back on their feet after this past year. These targets show the Senate Republicans’ plan for the total amount the state will spend on any specific budget area over the next two years. Their proposed cuts to Minnesota’s budget, will leave the state in an unstable position for years to come as the one-time federal funding offered this year goes away and leaves our programs underfunded for the future.

     The Senate Republican budget targets would mean cuts to education, human services, reduced funding for agricultural and rural development, cuts to state agencies and local governments on the frontlines of the response to COVID-19, and underinvestment in state infrastructure and green jobs. The simple fact is that the budget targets that Republicans have proposed fail to recognize the reality of how government is funded, and that matters to Minnesotans. Their targets would result in effective cuts of more than $350 million for E-12 Education and nearly $200 million for Health and Human Services just in this biennium. As all Minnesotans continue to recover from the health and economic effects of this pandemic, this is exactly the wrong approach to take.

Paid Family and Medical Leave "Hearing"

     The pandemic has shown in a very stark way how crucial it is for Minnesotans to have the time and resources needed to care for the health and well-being of our families. Senate DFL Leader Susan Kent has authored S.F. 1205, which would ensure that all working Minnesotans have access to paid family and medical leave. I am proud to support this bill.

     Unfortunately, while the House companion has moved forward, the Senate Republican majority has not heard this bill. It's hard to imagine a proposal that could be more central to not only recovering from the pandemic, but ensuring that Minnesotans have the stability and opportunity to succeed beyond it. That's why I'm so disappointed in Republican inaction on this. To call this out, Senate DFLers held a "committee hearing" to discuss S.F. 1205. You can watch a video of that hearing here.

Health and Human Services

    I serve as the Ranking DFLer on the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee, and also serve on the Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee. So far, few HHS bills have moved to the floor or out of the Senate; instead, these will likely be considered for the omnibus bills that committees will put together in the coming weeks for release the week of April 5th. I am committed to protecting the vital health and human service programs Minnesotans rely on, like affordable health insurance, disability services, child care support, and economic assistance.

     The Legislature passed a bill early in session to allow qualified dentists to administer coronavirus vaccines for eligible patients over the age of 16. Dentists are already allowed to administer flu vaccines and now will become an important part of our COVID-19 vaccine ecosystem. Another bill to increase the Medical Assistance reimbursement rate for COVID-19 vaccinations to the higher Medicare rate also passed this session. The federal government will cover the cost of this increase to encourage more providers to register as vaccinators and to account for the complicated and expensive handling these vaccines require

Bills Heard in Committee

    I'm pleased that a number of bills that I've authored have been heard, and I'll work hard to ensure that they move forward. S.F. 1956 would update reimbursement rates for Minnesota's Child Care Assistance Program, ensuring that child care providers are better able to make a living and serve families. S.F. 759 would leverage existing federal dollars to make the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) available to more Minnesotans. In a time of unprecedented food instability, this is an absolute need. S.F. 1711 and S.F. 1379 would provide greater flexibility for Tax Increment Financing districts for Richfield and Bloomington, giving our communities more resources for redevelopment and to address the affordable housing crisis we face.


    The legislative session is required to end by May 17th, which means a lot of work before then. I will be closely involved in budget discussions, particularly on Health and Human Services - one of the largest portions of the overall budget. As we get into the second half of the session, I intend to continue fighting for a budget that reflects the values we all share, that supports those Minnesotans who have been hit hardest by the effects of this pandemic, and that ensures a fair and full recovery for all. I hope you’ll continue to keep in touch if you have any questions or concerns you’d like to share!