When Minnesotans elected a new DFL majority in the Senate last November, they sent a clear message that they were tired of the frustrating gridlock and inaction that had blocked many of their priorities at the State Capitol.
At the end of the 2022 legislative session, they saw promised tax cuts disappear and agreements to fund top priorities like schools, nursing homes, public safety and a job-creating infrastructure bill fall apart. In short, Minnesotans demanded something different: A government that is accountable, responsive to their struggles and willing to compromise to finish its important work.
Since January, when DFLers took control of the Senate, we have worked with the governor and our House and Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle to not only complete some of that unfinished work, but to steadily deliver on the issues Minnesotans told us matter most.
We've already enacted more than $100 million in tax cuts and delivered urgent help for out-of-work Minnesota miners with bipartisan support. To keep communities safe across Minnesota, we've delivered funding to triple the amount of help and expertise the attorney general can give to small and rural counties to prosecute murder cases and other violent and complex crimes.
And now we are moving on a series of consumer protection bills, including one to address the exploding number of catalytic converter thefts that cost car owners across Minnesota thousands of dollars and many months to fix. We're working to address price gouging, including by large drug companies, and to ban the cruel practice of conversion therapy. And we will continue our push for property tax relief and tax cuts for families who are now finding child care unaffordable.
With carbon emissions posing the No. 1 threat to the health of our planet, we've enacted a transformative law that puts Minnesota on the path to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. In doing so, we're restoring our state as a leader in fighting climate change and creating clean-energy jobs. That's a legacy worth delivering to future generations.
Minnesotans also told us they want us to expand freedoms, not take them away. So, when all other states along our borders are restricting reproductive freedom, we've enshrined into state law the right for women to make their own reproductive health care choices. It's simple, we trust women and their doctors with private health decisions.
We've enacted a bipartisan ban on discrimination against a person's natural hair, something that disproportionately happens to Black women in our state. And we've made Juneteenth — which commemorates the end of slavery — a state holiday.
More recently, we've enacted a measure to allow 55,000 Minnesotans who have finished their incarceration to vote, and we've made our roads safer by allowing every Minnesotan to earn a driver's license after passing required tests and purchasing insurance.
Despite the work we've completed, we know we still have a lot more to do. Critical infrastructure projects were blocked last year, resulting in needless delays that have only raised the cost to complete important projects that will create jobs and economic development in communities across the state.
Beyond that, we'll push efforts that Minnesotans have been waiting for, like paid family and medical leave, electoral reforms that strengthen our democracy, and funding to improve the health and safety of our communities. Ultimately, we'll deliver a balanced budget.
As we've debated these and many other issues, we've also returned to the transparent practice of making Minnesotans — from all walks of life — an integral part of the democratic process. We're holding multiple committee hearings on bills and asking the public to weigh in at every step as legislation advances through committees before it comes to the Senate floor.
Minnesotans, tired of gridlock and inaction, were looking for change. We listened, and now we're leading. In the process, we're getting things done and improving lives.
Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, is majority leader of the Minnesota Senate.