Daily Reformer: Legislature is back; Walz wants to end childhood poverty

January 3, 2023 1:28 pm

Photo courtesy of Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services .

Welcome back. 

Democrats take the helm of the trifecta today with a big agenda to enact, including education funding, abortion, gun control and voting rights. They have the resources to do it, but a one-seat Senate majority and some very hungry interest groups will make it harder than it looks. 

House and Senate gavel in today at 1. Michelle Griffith will be our main person at the Capitol this year, although she’ll get plenty of help. Follow her on Twitter

House Taxes is moving quickly on a bill to bring the state’s tax code into conformity with changes to federal law. New Taxes chair Aisha Gomez told me she hopes the Legislature will  pass a quick conformity bill, which will help taxpayers, tax preparers and the Department of Revenue, and “demonstrate the good of the people of our state is more important than our partisan differences.”

Also on tap this week, Michelle tells me: 

  • A House hearing to codify abortion rights in law. 
  • Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, is proposing a bill to include inflation in the budget forecast. Stephenson is close to Speaker Melissa Hortman, so expect this bill to get some juice. This is a seemingly arcane provision that is a big deal around the Capitol. 

Full schedule here. 

Today at 1, SEIU is rallying to push lawmakers to approve drivers’ licenses for all, including undocumented people. Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan will attend. 

Walz and childhood poverty

Walz and his fellow constitutional officers were sworn in Monday, and Walz’s second term agenda is finally coming into focus. Note this key section, according to prepared remarks:

Building the best schools in the nation is a good start, but to make Minnesota the best state for kids we need to make sure that kids are thriving in and OUT of the classroom. Children can’t learn if they’re hungry or without a home. We have the opportunity to ensure every child has a safe place to call home and that no child goes hungry. I am committed to ending child poverty in Minnesota. In the coming weeks, I will announce a bold new proposal to lift up children, youth, and families in Minnesota and put them at the center of our state budget.

Ending childhood poverty is a noble goal that’s tough to accomplish without help from the federal government, but we’re all ears over here at Reformer HQ. He can use the tax code, but a source in state government also tells me to expect a reorganization of agencies with children at the center. 

The Democrats’ argument is that our advantage over low tax/bad services states in the Sun Belt is that we’re a good place to raise children. We have better schools, health care and a family-friendly environment, good jobs for the parents, and it’s all affordable. 

Democrats have an opportunity to make that vision a reality for all Minnesotans during the next two years. It’s certainly a case many of us believe in, but they need to make it work. No more excuses. 

In today’s Reformer, Deena Winter catches up with election deniers, who are still… skeptical, even after many of them worked the polls in November. Unfortunately, the horse has left the barn.  

On the national scene: U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy doesn’t appear to have the votes to become speaker just yet. Politico

​​As Kevin McCarthy begins the final descent of his turbulent bid for the speaker’s gavel, Republicans are bracing to see whether he lands the plane or crashes and burns.

LOL what even? (Update: He didn’t win on the first ballot.)

OK, moving on: What was your favorite holiday moment?

My 5-year old said he must be on the “nice list” given the Magna-Tiles that arrived from St. Nick. It was a little maddening but also quite magical. I caught it on tape, too. 

As usual, Deena’s right: “Licorice Pizza” is great. The 1970s were very weird. 

Correspond: [email protected] 

Have a great day all! JPC

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J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and two young children