Legislative Update: May 20, 2016

Legislative Update: May 20, 2016

 

A Look At What’s Happening At The Capitol
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May 20, 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 Rally

The Minnesotans for Paid Family Leave Coalition (co-chaired by ISAIAH) held a rally this week on the grounds of the Capitol to urge legislators to pass a paid family leave bill. Several hundred coalition members from ISAIAH, the labor community, AARP and other organizations heard from elected officials and listened to testimonials from Minnesotans who expressed the need for paid family leave. A mother who was required to return to work three days after giving birth shared her story. A young ISAIAH leader spoke about the emotional and financial stresses she faces daily while working full time and trying to help care for her family as her mother’s degenerative eye disease progresses.

Governor Mark Dayton offered his full support for paid family leave legislation, calling it a moral responsibility. Lt. Governor Tina Smith spoke of the need to alleviate the financial hardships facing an increasing number of families that find themselves providing end of life care for loved ones. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk spoke of the need for government to help small businesses in Minnesota provide paid family leave so that they are able to recruit top employees.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt was invited to speak at the rally but did not attend. Led by ISAIAH clergy, a small delegation of coalition members delivered a letter and personal stories to Speaker Daudt’s office. While the Speaker didn’t meet with the delegation, they were able to share information, stories, and a prayer with the Speaker’s aide. (See video clip)

Paid Family and Medical Leave is still possible this session and will be up for debate in the Tax Conference Committee. 

 

Driver’s Licenses and REAL ID

The Minnesota House has passed a REAL ID bill that would prevent our immigrant brothers and sisters from being able to apply for a driver’s license. The Senate bill leaves the door open for the possibility of allowing immigrants to obtain a license. Differences between these two bills will be decided by a conference committee.

Please call your Senator and urge them to stand strong on REAL ID legislation that doesn’t close the door on immigrant drivers. We believe that No REAL ID legislation this session would be better than the House option.

 

Sentencing Reform Bill Passes Senate

ISAIAH has been actively advocating for robust sentencing reform. This is one concrete step that will lower the prison population and begin to slow the carnage of mass incarceration on our families and communities.

In December, the MN Sentencing Guidelines Commission passed historic reforms to reduce the severity of certain drug sentencing rules, which will reduce mass incarceration and slow the growth in Minnesota’s prison population.

Earlier this session, a coalition of prosecutors, defense attorneys, legislators and law enforcement officials reached an agreement on drug sentencing reform legislation that reduces some sentences and eliminates some mandatory minimums.

On Monday, the Senate passed the Sentencing Reform compromise bill with strong bipartisan support, defeating a last minute amendment to delete the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission reforms from the bill.

Because time is running out for the House to act, it is likely that the recommendations passed last January by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission will go into effect in August.

ISAIAH will continue to work on abolishing mass incarceration and reforming our criminal justice system. ​

 

End of Session Action Alert

There are only three days left of the legislative session. We need to send our elected officials the message that we are not okay with a “do-nothing” session. That we are not okay with blame game politics. Our elected leaders have a responsibility to work together, compromise and to get work done.

Most of ISAIAH’s major priorities have NOT moved in the House: Paid Family Leave, Transit funding (including Northstar extension), Sentencing Reform and Restore the Vote. The House has taken action in the WRONG direction on prison expansion (moving to open a 1,600 bed private prison), and Driver’s Licenses for all without regard to immigration status.

Each of these priorities has widespread bipartisan support among Minnesotans, and most of them have garnered bipartisan legislative support. Yet House leadership has chosen inaction and resistance.

Call or email Speaker Daudt at 800-710-7642 or rep.kurt.daudt@house.mn with this message:

I want you to lead this session and get something done. We need transit funding, paid family leave, immigrant families to stay united, and sensible policies to reduce incarceration. Please take action on these priorities for Minnesota’s families while there is still time.

Thank you. Your name___ and city of residence

 


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