From Rep. Esther Agbaje <[email protected]>
Subject Legislative Update 02.17.2023
Date February 17, 2023 11:44 PM
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Esther Header

Friends and neighbors,?

Welcome to the 2023-2024 legislative session. If you have been watching the news, you?ve seen that the MN House of Representatives is working hard to pass a number of bills to make the lives of Minnesotans better. And this year, a number of those bills are now laws. I am?working diligently to advance Minnesota toward a more just and inclusive state. Let us take a bit of a tour of some of the amazing things happening at the Capitol. ?

*CROWN Act*?

On February 1, Governor Walz signed the CROWN Act into law. This bill protects Minnesotans from racial discrimination based on natural hair and texture. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to get this long overdue measure added to and defined in the Minnesota Human Rights Act.?Here?s photo of when we signed the enrollment with Speaker Hortman to send the bill to the Governor earlier that week.


*Juneteenth State Holiday *?

On February 3, the Governor signed into a law the bill to establish Juneteenth, June 19, as a state-recognized holiday.? June 19 is the date on which slavery is generally understood to have been fully abolished in the United States, following the first public reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas on June 19, 1865. ?


*Reproductive Rights*?

Minnesotans sent a clear message that they wanted their legislators to protect their reproductive healthcare rights. My colleagues and I are doing just that. On January 31, Governor Walz signed the PRO Act into law. This law codifies Minnesota?s Supreme Court case, "Doe v. Gomez" that states that Minnesotans have the right to reproductive healthcare. I?m glad that Minnesotans will have their bodily autonomy in place and that these decisions are now between a patient and their doctor similar to other healthcare needs.?


*Restore the Vote Act*?

In early February the Minnesota House voted to pass the Restore the Vote Act. The bill would restore voting rights to?individuals convicted of a felony upon completion of incarceration. Twenty-one other states, including our neighbor North Dakota, already restore voting rights upon release, and I was proud to vote yes on this important bill. ?

Voting rights are civil rights. This legislation is monumental for those who have served their time and are reintegrated into the community. It will give people the opportunity to feel heard again and that their voice matters in the democratic process. ??


*Drivers Licenses for All*?

We also passed HF 4 also known as ?Driver?s Licenses for All? early this session. The bill [ [link removed] ]?would allow undocumented residents to obtain a driver?s license. This measure would impact 81,000 of our immigrant neighbors. After passing standard licensing exams and tests, families will be able to complete essential daily tasks like driving to work, dropping kids off at school, or attending medical appointments. This proposal has broad support from law enforcement, the business community, faith leaders, and unions, who have all testified in support. ?

All of us deserve to be safe when we are on the road and getting more people to pass a driving exam and become licensed ensures motorists have a common understanding of the rules of the road, can safely operate a vehicle, and can obtain insurance.


*100% Clean Energy*

I?m glad to have voted for the 100% Clean Energy bill and that it was signed into law in early February. The law puts Minnesota on track to reach our full renewable energy goals by 2040. In addition, the bill also puts us on track to begin the process of phasing out the HERC by no longer allowing the energy from trash incineration to be counted as renewable. I?m glad to support the advancement of clean energy in Minnesota and our community.

100% Clean Energy

*Homeownership for More People*

This session, I have introduced 27 bills so far. Many of them focus on housing and working to create a fairer market for communities that have been traditionally excluded from homeownership. One of those bills is HF 687 [ [link removed] ]. This bill prohibits certain corporations from purchasing a single-family home for the purpose of renting a single-family home. The purpose of the bill is to find a way to curb a troubling trend of large corporations owning swaths of neighborhoods and thus preventing working people and families from becoming homeowners. This bill is necessary to protect the rights?of all Minnesotans?to have the ability to purchase their first home. Every Minnesotan deserves the right to generational homeownership and the opportunity for their families to live and grow in a community that is reflective of their culture, values, and identities.

Another bill I?ve introduced, HF 12 [ [link removed] ], will provide down payment assistance for first-generation homebuyers. These are home buyers whose parents either did not own a home or lost it to foreclosure. The bill provides a forgivable loan of up to $32,000 of down payment assistance. The down payment assistance is meant to be layered with other assistance to give up to 5000 potential homebuyers an opportunity to buy a home and begin creating generational wealth and putting a dent in the racial homeownership gap in Minnesota.


*Town Hall*

The next Town Hall for Senate District 59 is on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, at UROC at 5:30pm. I look forward to seeing you there. For more information on the event, follow the Facebook event page [ [link removed] ].


*Emergency Funding for Food Shelves?*?

The legislation will invest $5 million to the Department of Human Services for food shelf programs. DHS will then distribute funding under the bill to Hunger Solutions, an organization that supports Minnesota?s food shelves by connecting resources to serve its clients. Last year, Minnesotans made 5,285,229 visits to food shelves, totaling over 1.4 million more visits than in 2020. Minnesota had a record number of food shelf visits in 2022. Food shelves served 5,285,229 visits from January to November 2022. This is already over 1.4 million more visits than the previous record set in 2020 even with December visit data still to be reported by food shelves.??On February 9 the legislation passed on the House floor with a 129-0 vote.??


*Keep in Touch*?

Thanks, everyone! Keep in touch and I will be in touch soon! Please continue to reach out anytime if you need assistance or have questions at [email protected] or 651-296-8659. You can also follow my official Facebook page [ [link removed] ].

?Thank you,?

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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