At the midpoint of the 2021 Legislative Session, the contrast between the priorities of the Senate DFL and Senate Republicans could not be starker. While Senate Republicans have proposed a hyper-partisan agenda, Senate DFLers are fighting for policies to help working families, provide a world-class education, ensure a clean future, and advance our democracy.
Since session has begun this year, Senate Republicans have held hearings on legislation that would restrict voter access, discriminate against a sector of our student athletes, reopen schools and businesses without safety plans or resources, and have pushed to rollback clean air and water protections. Republicans can’t even affirm that our elections are free and fair, which is a cornerstone to our democracy.
Instead of real solutions to address the pandemic while keeping Minnesotans safe, they waste precious time attacking the governor and not doing the legislative work necessary to help our state. They proposed reopening businesses and schools without adequate safety measures or funding in place to keep people safe. Even in the midst of a public health crisis, they ignore and mock the safety practices necessary to mitigate the risks of this pandemic, including at the Senate itself by not wearing masks and putting the health of their colleagues and staff at risk.
With the release of their budget targets, Senate Republicans have again shown that their only priority is cuts to programs Minnesotans have depended on to weather this crisis. Minnesotans deserve better than partisan politics during a time of crisis.
Unlike Senate Republicans, the Senate DFL is committed to working together to build the state all Minnesotans deserve. That includes fighting for equitable policies, opportunities, and protections for all – at home, work, school, in their environment, and at the ballot box. This will allow for healthy and secure families, students who feel supported, and a robust workforce. It will also create a clean environment and strengthen our democracy so that our children can thrive in Minnesota for years to come.
Every community across Minnesota deserves the opportunity to thrive. As we recover from the devastating effects of a global pandemic, we need to support Minnesotans in their home and in their workplace and help them stay connected. We also recognize that from the birth of a child to taking care of a sick or disabled family member, everyone should have access to affordable health care, safe and affordable housing, paid family and medical leave, and economic security.
The Senate DFL is committed to a future in which all Minnesotans have a path to success. Children of every race, zip code, and economic status, from early childhood, through higher education, deserve a supportive, equitable, quality education from teachers with diverse backgrounds. We must invest in our schools to close the opportunity gaps our children are facing and support their mental health needs, which have only grown during this crisis. As our students move on to post-secondary opportunities, we need to ensure that they are affordable and accessible to all students and that we are meeting the needs of a 21st century workforce.
Minnesotans know we must come together to take bold action against climate change and toward a clean energy future with healthy communities and a healthy climate. Our children and our grandchildren are counting on us. This is an opportunity to create jobs, innovate, and make Minnesota a national leader. In doing so, we make our clean energy economy work for everyone by prioritizing environmental justice in all decision making.
Protecting democracy for the people begins at the ballot box and protecting the freedom to vote is a core value of the Senate DFL. Expanding – rather than suppressing – voter access is what Minnesotans are asking for. Expanding mail-in and absentee balloting (especially for people with disabilities and rural communities), extending early voting periods, and allowing voter pre-registration for 16-year-olds are some of the ways to strengthen and advance our democracy. With just 8 short weeks until the 2021 Legislative Session adjourns, Senate DFLers are fighting for a budget that reflects the values we all share, that supports those Minnesotans who have been hit hardest by the effects of this pandemic, and that ensures a fair and full recovery for all.