Senator Champion is Strengthening our Communities
We convened the 2016 Legislative Session on March 8 strong economic shape. Legislation I focused on this session included bills to boost economic development and create jobs, criminal justice reform, passing Paid Family Leave in the Senate, and several environmental initiatives.
I’m most proud of the work I did to begin to reduce the unfortunately persistent racial disparities in Minnesota. As co-chair of the Subcommittee on Equity, I am pleased with the recommendations we passed, as well as the final funding in the supplemental bill. This work is only just beginning and I am committed to creating a more equitable Minnesota. Like you, I believe our diversity is our greatest strength.
While we passed a great deal of important legislation this session, we will have to revisit our Tax and Bonding bills in a special session. Our comprehensive Transportation Bill did not pass, which means we must work even harder next session to ensure our transportation system is sustainably funded.
During the next term, my legislative priorities will focus on bettering our education system, comprehensive transportation funding, increased equity funding, and taking criminal justice reform even further. I look forward to continuing my work to better the lives of Minnesotans residing in North Minneapolis, the North Loop, downtown, Bryn Mawr, and beyond.
Click here to view my 2016 Champion End of Session Report PDF
Subcommittee on Equity: Ending Disparities, Creating Jobs in Minnesota
Beginning the end of these economic disparities was a major priority for me this session. As co-chair
of the Subcommittee on Equity, I was pleased our recommendations for funding were included in the larger omnibus supplemental budget bill, totaling an initial, ongoing investment of $35 million.
While there’s still work to do, we’re off to a good start through what we’ve achieved this session – passing legislation that will create jobs, strengthen and develop businesses, provide educational programs and outreach, help youth and adults find work, help families find homes, and more. The work we completed this session is a first step in creating a state where everyone has the opportunity to achieve and succeed. And thanks to the hard work of many, we’re on our way there.
While a compromise on transportation failed to develop this session, I remain committed to passing a comprehensive, long-term funding bill that will meet the needs of our state’s transportation network. We must ensure we raise significant revenue dedicated to our roads and bridges, as well as new funding for public transit in the metro area.
Criminal Justice Reform
As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I focused on legislation this session that increases funding for mental health treatment, the Challenge Incarceration Programs, and High Risk Revocation Programming. The major goal of these investments is to reduce recidivism and put an end to mass incarceration. We’ve made significant strides over the past few years, beginning with “Ban the Box” and expungement legislation, which will help ex-offenders find gainful employment and improve their lives. But there’s still work to be done. I’m committed to seeing
Restore the Vote legislation become law, as those who have served their time deserve the opportunity to contribute to society. I’m also dedicated to passing body camera legislation that focuses on transparency and accountability while balancing the interests of the community and law enforcement – creating greater trust between the public and police. We owe it to Minnesota residents to provide a fair and equitable justice system that rehabilitates while holding people accountable for their actions. I remain committed to ensuring that all Minnesotans are equally represented under the law.
This session was a big win for supporting Minnesota students from a very young age all the way through high
school. I proudly supported the E-12 bill, which invests $78 million in one-time money in 2017, with $25 million of that dedicated to pre-K. In the 2018-2019 biennium, the bill invests $55 million into pre-K and $24 million into other ongoing investments.
Addressing the state’s teacher shortage problem, investing in early education, and student support services all featured prominently in the legislature’s negotiated supplemental education bill. I remain committed to closing the achievement gap in Minnesota, which is why it’s important this bill invests heavily pre-K for all children as well as programs that ensure our students are on track to graduate high school and succeed in their post-secondary endeavors.
High school students’ post-graduation plans are extremely important, so I’ve supported major investments into
Minnesota’s higher education systems – approximately $443 million to freeze tuition, fund important research initiatives, and most importantly to ensure all Minnesota students can afford to attend school regardless of income.
Thanks to the persistence of North Minneapolis residents, we’ve scored a major environmental victory: shutting down the Northern Metals Recycling facility. During session, I wrote a column noting the North Side’s great distress caused by the facility for repeatedly violating state air quality standards near the site and deceiving the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and public about its role in polluting the air for many years. Northern Metals was an example of a company placing profit over people’s lives, and North Minneapolis does not stand for that. The pressure we collectively placed on the MPCA and Northern Metals has led to a win for clean air and our community. Thank you for helping in this fight and never giving up.