Legislative Update – April 8, 2016

Legislative Update – April 8, 2016


A Look At What’s Happening At The Capitol
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April 8, 2016

Legislative Issues Update

Welcome to this week’s ISAIAH Legislative Issues Update for the 2016 Minnesota legislative session.  As people of faith, we believe our moral compass comes from the things God calls us to do. During this legislative session, the ISAIAH community is acting out of a fundamental set of values – dignity, inclusion, equity and redemption. Working together with our state leaders, we will put the truth of God’s love back at the center of our lives and our society.


Paid Family Leave

Paid Family Leave made it out of Senate Jobs Committee, as well as the Senate Natural Resources, Economic Development & Agriculture Budget Division Committee. The bill will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee next week.

Members of the Minnesotans for Paid Family Leave Coalition, including many leaders from ISAIAH, spent several days at the Capitol telling their stories to Representatives and Senators and testifying to Senate Committees about the need for Paid Family Leave for all Minnesotans.

ISAIAH leaders Kim Houle and Nikki Kleman shared their powerful and moving experiences of being thrust into a caregiving role for family members with the Senate Jobs Committee. Kim spoke about the six years she cared for her grandmother and the unrecognized value she brought to the community by working with health providers and insurance claims; providing physical and occupational therapy, managing medicines and all the other necessities for a dignified life. Nikki spoke about the amount of time she missed from work while recovering from a difficult pregnancy; caring for her premature twins and then caring for her two-year-old son who was diagnosed with leukemia. You can view their testimonies here.  Kim’s starts at 48:06 and Nikki’s at 56:43.

ISAIAH leader Jessica Rohloff is featured in this moving commentary about the need for paid family leave by Lori Sturdevant of the Star Tribune, Rewarding, punishing: Words that describe caregiving.



Northstar Rail Extension

GRIP/ISAIAH leaders Pastor James Alberts, Molly Weyrens, and Anne Buckvold testified at two House committee hearings in support of legislation extending the Northstar rail to St. Cloud. The legislation passed both committees and was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

A group of 11 leaders from nine congregations met with legislators and delivered to the Speaker of the House Rep. Kurt Daudt petitions signed by 5,000 people calling for the Northstar train to be extended to St. Cloud.

We are asking our elected leaders to consider a transportation agenda that serves #OneMinnesota. Greater Minnesota has public transportation needs, and an investment of this kind will connect the resources of Metro and Greater Minnesotans to benefit all.

Minnesota Coalition for Education Equity calls for smart investments to improve racial equity in education

ISAIAH was one of seven organizations announcing formation of the Coalition in a press conference on April 4.  ISAIAH President Pastor Paul Slack argued that the state does not have a ‘surplus,’ but rather an opportunity to invest nearly $1 billion in our students to eliminate disparities. 

ISAIAH leader and parent, Shonda Allen, shared the story of her daughter’s health issue being treated as a disciplinary issue because of the lack of necessary support in school. Her experiences severely hindered her opportunity to learn.  One of the Coalition’s priorities is to invest in support staff in schools and remove Minnesota from the bottom of the national list for support services.  Some of the ISAIAH leaders that participated in the Press Conference are pictured here.

Juvenile Justice Reform

A bill to reform our Juvenile Justice system passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would do away with the indiscriminate shackling of youth in the courtrooms, end Juvenile Life Without Parole, give Judges discretion to waive mandatory minimum sentences, authorize police to utilize alternatives to arrest, and expand the use of evidence-based risk assessment to keep more youth out of detention.

County Attorneys and Sheriff Associations continue to oppose the bill. ISAIAH leaders plan to keep pressure on these groups who are also elected and who carry a lot of clout in the Legislature even when their positions are out of step with common sense reforms that will protect our youth.

Juvenile Life Without Parole has been declared unconstitutional under recent Supreme Court rulings, yet it remains on the books in Minnesota. At the hearing, Senator Goodwin pressed testifiers on their resistance to ending the indiscriminate, traumatic and prejudicial shackling of youth in courtrooms. “Do you still believe in the presumption of innocence?” she asked.


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