Minnesota House Democrats Set to Introduce a Package of 10 Bills

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Minnesota Democratic House Speaker-designate Melissa Hortman (D-Brooklyn Park) announced Wednesday that democratic legislators are preparing to introduce a package of 10 bills as early as next month.

The new congressional session will begin January 8 and the Speaker plans to introduce the package the next day. While the specific bills have yet to be revealed, they are said to reflect the “Minnesota Values Plan,” an updated version of the “Minnesota Values Project.”

In early 2017, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party announced the Minnesota Values Project. The initiative was structured around 4 objectives:

  1. All Minnesotans deserve access to affordable, quality health care,
  2. All Minnesotans deserve the education and job training needed to
    get a good-paying job,
  3. All Minnesota kids deserve a world-class education,
  4. All Minnesotans deserve the opportunity to be safe, healthy, and
    successful.

These points translated into 11 separate bills proposed that year:

  • HF 92: Expand MinnesotaCare to everyone — letting Minnesotans take advantage of affordable, high-quality care that is currently unavailable in the private market,
  • HF 2949: Implement discounts that go directly to consumers instead of giving handouts to the
    insurance companies,
  • HF 2839: Repeal for-profit HMOs that are exploding the cost of care in Minnesota,
  • HF 2931: Require non-profit HMO dollars to actually go to non-profit purposes instead of funneling them to for-profit institutions,
  • HF 3453: Ensure that women have the right to make their own health decisions without interference from their boss or politicians,
  • HF 3131: Empower our Attorney General to sue price-gouging drug companies,
  • HF 2594: Establish a “last dollar” grant program to help Minnesota residents cover tuition and fees,
  • HF 146: Support full-service community schools that provide social, medical, academic, and
    enrichment activities available to students all in one location — their school building,
  • HF 1391: Prevent employers from wage theft that denies employees wages and benefits that they
    have rightfully earned in order to increase profits,
  • HF 1013 and HF 1967: Expand earned sick time and paid family leave to all Minnesotans.

Though all the bills are still active, none have made it out of their various committees. At the time, the House was held by the Republican Party. In 2018, the Minnesota DFL took control of the House, yet the Senate remains in Republican hands by one vote. The Minnesota Values Plan is similar to the Project, yet has several noticeable updates.

The updated plan now lists four overall goals with six action points:

  1. Ensure All Minnesotans Have Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care,
    1. Expand the current MinnesotaCare plan to allow anyone to buy into it as a pathway to universal healthcare.
  2. Make Work in Minnesota Pay,
    1. Guarantee every worker has paid sick time and paid family leave,
    2. Put an end to wage theft by investing in improved enforcement,
  3. Invest in Education from Cradle to Career,
    1. Increase funding for community-based child care options and expand access to public, universal pre-k, for all Minnesota children,
    2. Ensure every Minnesotan has the affordable access to job training or higher education they need to thrive,
  4. Strengthen Minnesota’s Key Infrastructure,
    1. Make long-term, robust investments in transportation, broadband, and clean energy, creating good Minnesota jobs,

In addition, Hortman specifically noted that a “gun violence prevention measure and a bill to change the legal standard for sexual harassment cases” will be among the 10 bills.

With the Senate still in Republican control, it is highly unlikely that any of the 10 bills will pass in their current state. Aware of this concern, Speaker Hortman acknowledged:

The legislative process is a process of change and amendment…There are values that we will hold to during the session. But we expect the language will change as we work with the Senate and the governor’s office.

The Minnesota House Republican Caucus has yet to issue a public response to the planned to 10 bills. Though there could be potential bipartisan support for an infrastructure bill, the majority of the bills, most notably a pathway to universal healthcare, will most likely face extensive Republican opposition.

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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio Star. Send tips to aashirley1809@gmail.com.
Photo “Melissa Hortman” by Melissa Hortman.
Background Photo “Minnesota House of Representatives” by Chris Gaukel. CC BY-SA 2.0.

 

 

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