After re-taking control of both houses of the Minnesota Legislature, Senator Champion and his partners in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party collaborated with Governor Mark Dayton to pass several pieces of legislation, moving Minnesota forward to national prominence once again.
While we still have significant work to do, specifically in regards to my legislative priorities, such as raising the minimum wage, reducing gun violence, and restoring voting rights to those completing their sentence for a felony, we made serious progress in 2013. In the next year, we will pass a bonding bill that will put thousands of Minnesotans to work rebuilding our transportation infrastructure and other important projects that impact the lives of our state.
Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree – having a job is a good thing. My bill to “ban the box” removed a roadblock to Minnesotans seeking to join the labor force. Now, when applying for a job, it is now illegal for an employer to inquire or consider an applicant’s criminal record when deciding who gets an interview.
Minnesota became the twelfth state to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples. We also included language that provided legal protections for churches, non-profits and private businesses that do not choose to participate. Gov. Dayton’s signature on this historic bill was witnessed by over 7,000 Minnesotans.
I authored a bill that allows employees, if their workplace provides them “sick time”, to use these hours to care for their adult children, spouse, sibling, parent or grandparent, in addition to their child.
Housing is one of my central issues, and I am proud to have brought together the resources of Legal Aid and the Multi Housing Association for my tenant protection bill. This legislation assesses a $500 fine to those that do not notify prospective tenants that a house is in foreclosure. It also makes permanent a provision in the Renter Protection Act that permits a tenant to remain in the foreclosed residence for 90 days after a lease expires, and grants those wishing to appeal a court decision an extra 5 days to file their action.
Many Minnesotans utilize the assistance of service animals. I wrote a bill to expand the rights of persons with disabilities to enter public establishments with their service animals in accordance with the American Disabilities Act.
Our version of the DREAM Act permits the children of immigrants that attended three years of Minnesota high school to receive the in-state tuition rate in Minnesota, in addition to financial aid and scholarships.
Sex Trafficking Prevention and Safe Harbor Law
This involved an investment in our local law enforcement to identify victims of sex-trafficking, and an expansion of the Safe Harbor Law to enhance their support services and shelters.
I sponsored legislation to ease restrictions on driver’s licenses for non-U.S. citizens. Right now, many members of the immigrant community drive without a Minnesota license and insurance. This bill increases the number of licensed drivers and insured drivers on Minnesota’s roads.
Part-time Working Student Aid
Included in the Higher Education Omnibus bill was my provision to allocate student aid based on how many credits a person takes, not whether that person is considered full or part-time. This bill will decrease the debt students owe when they graduate and provide them with additional flexibility.