One year ago, I had the honor of being sworn in as Minnesota’s 58th speaker since statehood and its third female speaker. In 2019, our new majority, the Minnesota House DFL, showed we are hardworking and focused on building a Minnesota that works better for all of us.
Minnesotans value a great education for all students and job training for all workers, affordable, high-quality health care, and economic security. They want safe and welcoming communities. Minnesotans have shared with us that they want these things not only for their own families, but also for their neighbors.
Minnesotans’ values are our values. House DFLers passed bills reflecting our bold, progressive vision for Minnesota, including measures to substantially increase our state’s investments in education and job training, lower the cost of health care, take action on climate change, prevent gun violence, and help families achieve economic security through paid family leave, earned sick and safe time, and a day in court for those who are sexually harassed at work.
While the Republican leadership in the Minnesota Senate blocked many of our proposals from becoming law, we worked with Gov. Tim Walz and senators to enact a budget for Minnesota that increases funding for education, preserves affordable health care access for 1.2 million Minnesotans, and implements the nation’s strongest wage theft prevention law.
House DFLers also worked with the Republican Senate to complete some of the work left unfinished in prior sessions: enacting a hands-free cellphone provision into law to help prevent deaths and injuries from distracted driving, holding the pharmaceutical industry accountable for addressing the opioid epidemic it created and profited from, and protecting vulnerable adults from neglect and abuse.
But we know there is much work left to do. In the 2020 session, House DFLers will continue our work to build a better future for all Minnesotans. We will also continue to try to persuade Republicans in the Minnesota Senate to join us, instead of blocking progress.
All our children deserve a world-class education, and our school districts shouldn’t have to depend on local referendums to provide it. That’s why DFLers supported much stronger school funding last year. We will keep working to ensure all our children have the resources they need to succeed.
Minnesotans shouldn’t lose their lives because they can’t afford medications they need. House DFLers have continued fighting for insulin affordability legislation since the 2019 session ended without enacting the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act. We will keep working to make prescription drugs more accessible and affordable.
All Minnesotans should have economic security and time to care for themselves and their families. That’s why we passed paid family leave and earned sick and safe time legislation last session. Right now, far too many Minnesotans have to choose between work and taking care of a new baby, a family member or themselves. We will keep working to ensure that all Minnesotans have the paid time they need to care for themselves and their loved ones.
Climate change is a significant threat to Minnesota’s future economic growth and vitality. We have a responsibility to take action. Last year, we passed legislation calling for 100% renewable energy by 2050. House DFLers will continue advocating for strong policies to address climate change and preserve our natural resources.
Minnesotans have been loud and clear that they want the Legislature to take action to address gun violence. During the 2019 session, the Minnesota House DFL majority passed two broadly supported, common-sense gun safety measures that would make our communities safer — criminal background checks and red-flag laws. We will keep working to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them, and we hope Senate Republicans will listen to Minnesotans and join us.
This session also provides us the chance to invest in the public safety, affordable housing, higher education and water treatment infrastructure that Minnesotans depend on every day. Investing in these local projects also creates jobs in our communities. These investments shouldn’t wait, and we will keep working to invest in healthy, thriving communities across the state.
The 2020 legislative session is an opportunity for us to improve people’s lives. House DFLers hope Senate Republicans will join us to make this session positive and productive. In 2019, Republicans said no to investments in education, health care and economic security, and they refused to acknowledge the need for action on climate change and gun violence prevention. We are hopeful they’ve been listening to Minnesotans over the summer and fall and are ready to join DFLers in building a Minnesota that works better for everyone.
If not, it will be clear to Minnesotans who is standing in the way of progress.
Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, is speaker of the Minnesota House.