Dear Neighbors,

The Minnesota Management and Budget Office released their updated February budget forecast for our state last week, projecting that we will have a positive budget balance of $1.6 billion for the upcoming biennium, these are positive news for the economic health of our state. The bulk of this funding comes from one time sources, which means it can't be used to fund ongoing activities, but it can be used to fund significant projects that require one time appropriation, like the reconstruction of the Twin Cities.

Working closely with the Minneapolis and St. Paul delegations to secure investments to help our local businesses and communities recover from the civil unrest continues to be my top priority. This week we held a press conference on the urgency to pass the PROMISE Act, S.F. 165, a bill that provides state assistance to individuals, nonprofits, and businesses to cover damages that are not otherwise covered by applicable insurance policies, and H.F. 728, a proposal that authorizes $300 million of redevelopment appropriation bonds to help rebuild Lake Street, West Broadway, and University Avenue.

I’m also excited about the opportunity to present my bill to prohibit dismissals of children from pre-k to 3rd grade before the Education committee next week. The bill instructs schools to end suspensions and expulsions of young students and to find more appropriate alternatives to disciplining young students.

I am grateful for your engagement and your support in these efforts. I appreciate reading all the constituent emails. Please keep letting us know where you stand on these critical issues!

We had many visits from constituents during the last two weeks and I truly appreciate the level of engagement and diversity of perspectives that you bring to us. I appreciate connecting with you virtually, reading your emails and responding to your calls. Please continue to contact us, and let us know where you stand on these critical issues.




Upcoming Hearing on Sen. Torres Ray’s Proposal

Prohibiting Dismissals of Students in Kindergarten Through Grade 3.
Disparities based on race and disability are persistent in school discipline and inextricably linked to the state’s severe achievement and opportunity gaps. In Minnesota, Black students are eight times more likely and Indigenous students 10 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students.

S.F. 1048 would prohibit the suspension or expulsion of a student in kindergarten through grade three unless non-exclusionary discipline measures have been exhausted and there is an ongoing serious safety threat to the child or others.

This bill will have its first hearing in the Senate E-12 Committee on Wednesday March 10, 2021 at 3 PM.


Controversial Bills Moving in Senate Committees

Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy: 
The timing of the following proposals couldn’t be worse considering the MASSIVE spike in natural gas prices seen in the last weeks. Bringing these bills to the table in light of these cost increases is going to harm Minnesotans across the entire state, and is even more harmful to low-income Minnesotans who are already going to require additional assistance to pay for the rate increases that will be seen as a result of the spike.

S.F. 992: Energy Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) Repeal
With CIP in place and the subsequent energy savings as a result of the programs, Minnesotans have successfully avoided even higher costs on top of those that will already be experienced by consumers later this year. The bill would repeal CIP and provide no alternative replacement for the program. This bill is not supported by clean energy advocates or environmental groups, nor is it supported by the Chamber of Commerce. It is unclear who does support this bill.

S.F. 301: Municipal Utilities and Cooperative Electric Associations Reduction of Annual Energy-Savings Goal
Supporters of the bill point to the flexibility created for municipal, co-op, and public utilities to meet their annual energy savings goals. Opponents of the bill have concerns that this language could jeopardize the bill that is a product of several years of carefully negotiated language with immeasurable buy-in of the ECO Act that is currently traveling through the legislature, which represents a consensus of an incredibly broad coalition of energy, environment, and union groups (among other businesses) that also offers added flexibility for municipals and co-ops in meeting their energy savings goals.

S.F. 955: Electric Utilities Resource Needs Fulfillment Using Carbon-Free Resources
Some individuals believe this legislation is useful in establishing the regulatory framework needed for transitioning the state to cleaner energy. However, several concerns have been raised about this bill including lifting the nuclear moratorium and counting nuclear power as “carbon-free.” The bill sets no climate change goal at a time when we collectively have about a decade to make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions or face ever-worsening climate impacts. If we are to curb the worst effects of climate change, the bill falls well short of the kind of response needed.


Bills Authored by Sen. Torres Ray in the Past Two Weeks:

To see a comprehensive list of bills I have authored this session, click here.

S.F. 1675 Civil Unrest Immediate Relief Program: The Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development shall establish a program to make grants to eligible organizations to develop and implement local economic relief programs designed with the primary goal of assisting areas adversely affected by civil unrest. Local programs should include outreach to cultural communities, support for microenterprises, and preferences for entities that were already under stress from the COVID-19 peacetime emergency.

S.F. 1682 Landfill Responsibility Act: Places an emphasis on environmental justice considerations for those who are most directly impacted by environmental factors. Appropriation of money will be reflective of those who require immediate attention. 

S.F. 1744 Healthy Development of Babies During Pregnancy: Provides appropriation of grants for those families who are black, indegenours, or people of color during pregnancy and postpartum. 

S.F. 1745 Environmental Justice Board: Establishes an Environmental Justice Board in the Pollution Control Agency appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, where members of the board must reside in an environmental justice area.

S.F. 1754 Disability Impact Statement: Permits a judge to request a disability impact statement to assess what impact a sentence will have on the person’s disability.

S.F. 1746 Climate Resiliency Program: Provides technical assistance and grants to local governmental units and Tribal Governments


Virtual COVID-19 Vaccine Roundtable