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Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, agrees. “Sometimes, people have trouble looking through someone else’s lens,” said Hayden, one of the bill’s sponsors. “Forty cents becomes a couple of dollars a week, which becomes $40, and you’re coming up short on food at home and medicine. I know what it’s like to be in poverty.”
After no luck getting a hearing for two years, Webster of Legal Aid is buoyed by the growing number of “cracker-jack” supporters pushing for passage inside and outside of the Legislature. DFL bill sponsors include Sen. John Hoffman of Champlin, and Reps. Jerry Newton of Coon Rapids and Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley.
In addition, the Mazon Advocacy Project, a national Jewish hunger-relief organization with strong local roots, has prioritized getting the bill passed. Mazon’s national organizer, Samuel Chu, flew in from Los Angeles to testify last week. “We are already seeing the impact of having an organized constituency, beyond the professional advocates pushing for policies in this area,” Chu said.
Newton, too, is “very hopeful” about the bill’s passage this year. “We heard unbelievable testimony,” he said, “and we have some bipartisan support. We think it’s manageable.”
Webster hopes he’s right. “It’s been five years,” she said. Five years of kids being turned away or shamed in a place they’re supposed to feel safe. “Every year I think, how can this be happening?”