From Rep. Esther Agbaje <[email protected]>
Subject Legislative Update 05.15.2023
Date May 15, 2023 10:54 PM
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Dear Neighbors,

The Minnesota House passed House File 2, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act [ [link removed] ]. This legislation has been in the works for nearly a decade and now is the time to deliver on our promise to Minnesotans. Too often, many workers in our state face the impossible choice of either going to work to earn a paycheck or staying home to take care of themselves or a sick family member.

While some workers have jobs that provide paid sick leave, thousands of Minnesotans do not have access to a single paid day off. Additionally, those in the lowest wage positions and our BIPOC community members face stark disparities. I was proud to vote ?yes? to ensure every Minnesotan is protected by a safety net that uplifts humanity.

The bill was passed in the Senate and now with the lead of Rep. Richardson, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Conference Committee has been underway and working hard to ensure the bill package is reflective and responsive to all Minnesotans.


*Legislative Updates: *

Conference Committees [ [link removed] ] are committees made up of members from the House and Senate appointed to reconcile the differences between two versions of a bill. This is an important time to collaborate with our colleagues and make comprehensive compromises to ensure the bill is reflective and responsive to our communities.

I was selected to serve on the Taxes and Housing conference committees. In the Housing committee we came to a deal to provide $1 billion in one-time funding to support housing needs across the state. Our work in the Taxes Committee continues to create a tax structure that is responsible and supportive for all Minnesotans.


*Our Three Newest Laws*

Governor Walz recently signed three bills into law, all of them making Minnesota a more welcoming, science-following, rights-protecting state. We banned conversion therapy, protected access to abortion, and did the same for gender-affirming care by making Minnesota a safe state for trans refuge. These vital new laws loudly proclaim Minnesota will take you, as you are, with open arms.

The Reproductive Freedom Defense Act is necessary to protect the rights and access to reproductive health care for all Minnesotans, the health care providers who offer reproductive health care, and those from other states seeking care. It is deeply troubling to see laws pass whose sole purpose is to punish people who perform reproductive healthcare.

I was proud to carry this bill which creates strong protections for Minnesota?s healthcare providers and citizens against legal attacks and criminal penalties from anti-abortion extremists in other states.


*Legalization of Adult-use Cannabis*

Advocates and changemakers have been working on this legislation for nearly a decade. The versions changed to reflect the needs and providing justice for our BIPOC communities. I am beyond proud of my colleagues for passing the bill off the House floor. Minnesota?s current cannabis laws are doing more harm than good. By creating a regulatory framework, we can address the harms caused by cannabis, establish a more sensible set of laws, improve our healthcare & criminal legal systems, and ensure better outcomes for communities. Minnesotans deserve the freedom and respect to make responsible decisions about cannabis use themselves.


*Communication Services for Incarcerated People*

Communication is critical to keeping any loving family together. But for tens of thousands of parents, children, siblings, cousins, and grandparents with an incarcerated loved one in Minnesota, simply maintaining contact can be financially devastating. This burden also disproportionately falls on our Black, brown, and Indigenous families, as it is those populations that are overrepresented in our prisons.

Read my op-ed published [ [link removed] ] with Senator Clare Oumou Verbeten to learn more about HF 2922 and our efforts to provide free phone calls to those in prison.


*AAPI Heritage Month*

Happy Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month! The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese community to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.

During this wonderful month, we wish our AAPI communities a joyous gathering to celebrate achievements and milestones. May you indulge in songs, food, ritual, and stories with your families and loved ones.

Let us also strive to find humanity in each other as we uplift and celebrate the cultures and traditions of our AAPI community.

Learn more on AAPI Heritage Month: [link removed] [ [link removed] ]


*Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR)*

It was an honor to share space with our Indigenous relatives for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) event. This movement seeks to draw attention to the high rates of disappearances and murders of Native people, particularly women, and girls. We must work together as a community to keep this movement that advocates, families, and relatives have been doing for decades to end violence against Native women.


In community,

Rep. Esther Agbaje

Minnesota House of Representatives

Committee Assignments:

* *Vice *Chair Housing Finance and Policy
* Taxes
* Ways and Means
* Elections Finance and Policy

*Legislative Assistance *

Shamat Abraha

[email protected]


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