From Rep. Esther Agbaje <[email protected]>
Subject Legislative Update: 04.10.2024
Date April 10, 2024 12:17 PM
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Esther Header

Dear Neighbors,   

Our DFL team is tackling a full docket of legislation, focused on building a strong foundation for our communities. Building on the successes of 2023, we remain committed to prioritizing quality education, accessible healthcare, and more affordable housing. These investments will foster a thriving environment for families and grow the middle class.   

We are halfway through the 2024 Legislative Session, and the House is now focused on passing policy bill packages in major areas, as well as putting together small supplemental budgets to continue our work improving the lives of Minnesotans.


Busy weeks call for productive updates! Below is what's been happening at the Capitol:   

*Inclusive Democracy Caucus Press Conference* 

As the House lead author of the prison gerrymandering reform legislation, I had the privilege of joining the Inclusive Democracy Caucus, at a press conference to highlight key proposals in the House Elections Policy Bill that will make our democracy more accessible and inclusive. The provision of the bill will ensure that we are counting all persons and allocating them to the districts where they last resided rather than the district of the prison where they might be incarcerated. This is important to restore a balance of political power based on population between districts with prisons and districts without prisons. This provision helps move us towards a more just and equitable society.

Other provisions in the bill contain further updates to campaign finance laws, giving access to voting for college campuses, and the Minnesota Voting Rights Act that would restore a private right of action for individuals who face discrimination at the polls. 

We must work together to create a more inclusive system where all voices are heard and represented. This is essential for long-term stability and prosperity. I am proud to be working alongside the Inclusive Democracy Caucus as we continue to strengthen voter participation and ensure all Minnesotans have equal access to the democratic process. 


*First-time Homebuyers Down Payment Program* 

It's truly rewarding to see the first-time homebuyers down payment program through Urban Homeworks begin to give out grants. I am glad that the legislature could support their efforts through legislation in the 2023 session that is making a real difference for Minnesota families! 

Reading about Minnesotans like Mr. Sean Tanna, who can now achieve his dream of homeownership thanks to this initiative, makes all the hard work worthwhile. 

Read the article here [ [link removed] ].  


*Arab American Heritage Month* 

This April, as we celebrate Arab American Heritage Month, let's recognize the significant contributions Arab American communities have made to Minnesota. Their rich heritage, achievements, and enduring impact have helped shape our vibrant district and state. 

Arab American History Month

*Bill Passage off House Floor* 

Last week my colleagues and I passed several bills off the Minnesota House including:   

* House Higher Education policy bill, HF 4024 [ [link removed] ], is a focused effort to build off the historic investments included in the 2023 Higher Education Budget, like the North Star Promise which provides free college to qualifying students. 
* HF 3436 [ [link removed] ], the House Transportation policy bill builds off of last year’s historic budget that capitalized on state and federal funds to deliver a generational investment in transportation statewide. We also passed HF 3071, [ [link removed] ] which will ensure that drivers’ tests in Minnesota will be in plain English – a very helpful simplification for new drivers. 
* HF 4176 [ [link removed] ], the House Early Education Policy bill streamlines existing programs for young learners and ensures greater access to early education for students and families in St. Paul. 
* HF 3454 [ [link removed] ], the Military Affairs Policy bill, and HF 4334 [ [link removed] ], the Veterans Affairs Policy bill. The Military Affairs bill includes referral bonuses for the National Guard, adjustments to help the National Guard investigate and prosecute crime, and language to broaden the definition of trespassing on National Guard facilities. 

By strengthening transportation options, educational resources for families, and support systems for our veterans, we're laying the groundwork for a thriving state. Affordable and reliable transportation helps parents get their kids to school activities and parents to work opportunities. Accessible and quality education provides children with the tools they need to succeed and be ready to contribute to vibrant communities. These bills continue to make Minnesota a place where families and veterans can thrive. 

*Here are the most recent bill packages the House passed: * 

* HF 3631 [ [link removed] ], a package of modifications and extensions for previously authorized Capital Investment projects. The legislation, authored by State Representative Fue Lee (DFL - Minneapolis), mostly relates to the two Capital Investment bills signed into law last year [ [link removed] ].  
* The 2024 Elections Policy Bill [ [link removed] ] focuses on improved voter access and election transparency. It targets policy areas where the state can improve voter turnout and ensure that if voting is restricted, voters have a means of redress. Additionally, it enhances disclosure requirements for those seeking to influence elections, expands voter access and comprehension, and increases election transparency. 
* HF 3614 [ [link removed] ], the Public Safety Policy bill, continues House Democrats’ comprehensive approach to public safety and crime prevention with support for victims, criminal justice reform, policy modernization, and more. 


*Tax Reminder * 

Property Tax Refund: DFLers worked diligently to ensure Minnesota families have access to the tax credits and deductions they've earned, strengthening their financial foundation. We worked to simplify the Property Tax Refund, making sure every renter will receive the refund they deserve, one third of whom are seniors or people with disabilities. You may qualify for the $204 average refund. 


Renter's Credit: I encourage you to explore this program and see if it can offer you valuable tax savings. The Renters’ Credit refunds a portion of the property taxes that renters have paid through their rents. The credit is particularly targeted to the state’s lowest-income households; over 60 percent of households receiving the credit have incomes of $40,000 or less. The maximum household income to qualify for the Renters’ Credit for the 2021 tax year was $64,920. By providing property tax refunds to qualifying homeowners and renters, the state of Minnesota helps bring down one of the costs of housing and creates a more equitable tax system. Learn more on the Department of Revenue website.   

Child Tax Credit: I am proud of our nation-leading Child Tax Credit providing Minnesota families with much-needed relief. Families will save up to $1,750 for each dependent. Democrats are cutting child poverty by one-third with this rebate. You can claim the tax credit by filing a 2023 income tax return. The $1,750 credit is for each child 17 years old and younger, with no limit on the number of children. For all tax filers, this credit begins to phase out at an income level of $35,000 and fully phases out at a maximum of $90,750 for a family with four children.  

Visit the Minnesota Department of Revenue website for more information [ [link removed] ] on these benefits.    


*Let’s Stay Connected!* 

I deeply value being in this work to improve lives with you. Please continue to reach out with any input, ideas, or feedback about the issues important to you. Please reach out anytime if you need assistance, schedule a meeting or community event, or have questions at [email protected]  or 651-296-8659.  

In community, 

Rep. Esther Agbaje 

Minnesota House of Representatives (59B) 

Committee Assignments: 

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

*Legislative Assistant* 

Shamat Abraha 

[email protected] 


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