Members of Senate POCI Caucus Praise Historic Passage of Restore the Vote and Drivers Licenses for All

SAINT PAUL, Minn. –  In a victory for the rights and dignity of tens of thousands of Minnesotans, the Senate passed legislation Tuesday to Restore the Vote for formerly incarcerated people and then passed legislation early Wednesday morning to allow Driver’s Licenses for All Minnesotans regardless of immigration status. The legislation, HF 28 and HF 4, passed by votes of 35-30 and 34-31 respectively. 

In response to passage of both bills, members of the Senate People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus released the following statements:

“The Members of the Senate POCI Caucus are ready to make Minnesota the best place to live, work, and raise a family. Today we voted “YES” on HF 28 and HF 4, to restore the vote to 55,000 disenfranchised Minnesotans, ensuring their right to fully participate in the voting process and to correct inequity by allowing all Minnesotans who want to operate a vehicle to do so legally by obtaining a license and purchasing required insurance. It was a good day in Minnesota, and we will collectively continue to address the disparities that our communities have experienced for too long,” said Senate POCI Caucus Chair Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton).

“Today is an exciting day for our state, reflecting the culmination of years of hard work. Action on these issues is long overdue, and I’m proud of the work we have done today to finally take these steps to restore rights, provide dignity to Minnesotans, and to improve public safety across our state,”said Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis), chief author of Restore the Vote, and co-author of Driver’s Licenses for All.

“The right to dignity and humanity is always urgent, and today we moved with that urgency by passing today’s legislation. It has been my honor to work with a broad coalition of Minnesotans from every corner of the state to get this work done, and I’m proud to have voted yes on these bills,said Senator Zaynab Mohamed (DFL-Minneapolis), chief author of Driver’s Licenses for All. 

“Today was one of my proudest of my time in the legislature. The DFL majority has taken action on two long overdue policies that simply gives all of our Minnesotans the dignity they deserve. Today, we ensured that those who served their time are able to fully participate in society, and that all Minnesotans, including our undocumented community, have the right to navigate around our roads safely and legally,” said Senator Omar Fateh (DFL-Minneapolis).

“The two bills we passed today will directly change the lives of many previously disenfranchised Minnesotans. Today, we get to tell these people that we see you, we hear you, and we are voting for you,” said Senator Clare Oumou Verbeten (DFL-St. Paul).

“These bills will help tens of thousands of Minnesotans to carry out basic functions of living in our state. Formerly incarcerated citizens who have reentered society deserve to regain the right to vote. Undocumented residents who live, work, and raise families among us deserve the opportunity to use our roads legally and safely. I am proud to cast these votes to make Minnesota a more just, welcoming, and safer state,” said Senator Tou Xiong (DFL-Maplewood). 

“Tonight, Senate DFLers made large strides to further remove barriers often faced by Minnesotans of color and our immigrant communities. By restoring the right to vote and providing drivers licenses for all, we are ensuring Minnesota remains a safe, welcoming place to live and participate in our democratic institutions,”said Senator Erin Maye Quade (DFL-Apple Valley). 

“We are taking a momentous step forward with the passage of these bills today in showing respect for our neighbors, friends, coworkers, and community. My votes in favor of Restore the Vote and Driver’s Licenses for All are for human dignity and rights, and they will make Minnesota a more inclusive and stronger state,” said Senator Alice Mann (DFL-Edina). 

“No matter where you live or what you look, every Minnesotan deserves to have their rights protected and to be able to live with dignity. The legislation we passed today is long overdue, and takes an important step forward for making communities across our state safer and stronger. I’m proud to have voted yes for Restore the Vote and Driver’s Licenses for All,” said Senator Foung Hawj (DFL-St. Paul).

“The passage of Restore the Vote and Driver’s Licenses for All are crucial steps in ensuring that all Minnesotans can fully participate in our society and live lives of dignity. I’m proud to have voted yes for these bills to make Minnesota a more welcoming and stronger state,” said Senator Susan Pha (DFL-Brooklyn Park).

The members of the Senate POCI Caucus are Senator Mary Kunesh (Chair), Senator Bobby Joe Champion, Senator Foung Hawj, Senator Alice Mann, Senator Erin Maye Quade, Senator Zaynab Mohamed, Senator Clare Oumou Verbeten, Senator Susan Pha, and Senator Tou Xiong. 

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Mary K. Kunesh represents Senate District 39, which covers the communities of St. Anthony Village, New Brighton, Hilltop, Columbia Heights, Fridley, and a portion of Spring Lake Park.

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Senator Bobby Joe Champion
Senate President Senate District 59
Bobby Joe Champion represents District 59, which includes portions of downtown and north Minneapolis in Hennepin County. He is also an attorney.

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Senator Foung Hawj
Senate President Senate District 67
Foung Hawj represents District 67, which includes the east side of Saint Paul in Ramsey County in the central Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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Senate President Senate District 50
Senator Alice Man represents Senate District 50 which includes Bloomington and Edina. She is vice chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, and serves on the Education Policy Committee and the Human Services Committee.

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Senate President Senate District 56
Senator Erin Maye Quade represents Senate District 56 which includes Apple Valley, Eagan, and Rosemount. She is vice chair of the Education Policy Committee, and serves on the Education Finance Committee, Human Services Committee, and the State and Local Government and Veterans Committee.
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Senate President Senate District 63
Senator Zaynab Mohamed represents Senate District 63 which includes Minneapolis. She is vice chair of the Jobs and Economic Development Committee, and serves on the Capital Investment Committee, Finance Committee, and the Housing and Homelessness Prevention Committee.
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Assistant Leader Senate District 66
Senator Clare Oumou Verbeten represents Senate District 66 which includes Falcon Height, Lauderdale, Roseville, and St. Paul. She is vice chair of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, and serves on the Education Finance Committee, Higher Education Committee, and the Labor Committee.

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Assistant Leader Senate District 38
Senator Susan Pha represents Senate District 38 which includes Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, and Osseo. She is vice chair of the Capital Investment Committee and also serves on the Housing and Homelessness Prevention Committee.

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Assistant Leader Senate District 44
Senator Tou Xiong represents Senate District 44 which includes Little Canada, Maplewood, North Saint Paul, and Oakdale. He is vice chair of the Energy, Utilities, Environment, and Climate Committee and serves on the Capital Investment Committee and the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.
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