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Dear Friends,

As always, thank you for tuning in to events here at the capitol. It’s been a busy first few weeks and I’ve been glad to see so many constituents come visit me in St. Paul.

Below are just some of the highlights and topics being discussed. I appreciate you all sharing  your thoughts and concerns with me and look forward to another long week.

 

Increase Teachers of Color Act

Legislators from the Senate and House held a press conference this week to introduce legislation aiming to increase the percentage of teachers of color and American Indian teachers (TOCAIT) in Minnesota classrooms.

The comprehensive legislation expands existing pathways to teaching, strengthens efforts to retain effective teachers, and provides incentives to attract more students of color into the teaching profession with scholarships and student teaching grants to complete their preparation programs. Over 1,700 teacher candidates and more than 1,300 TOCAIT would be supported by the legislation that the bill authors say is designed to finally start “moving the needle.”

The 2019 Minnesota Teacher Supply and Demand Report indicates that the percentage of teachers of color has remained stagnant at 4%, while the percentage of students of color continues to grow rapidly in Minnesota and is now 34%.

Advocates say this is the most comprehensive racial equity proposal in education to close gaps that the state has seen. Lawmakers and the governor need to urgently address the unmet needs of one-third of the state’s students and do what is needed to increase the percentage of TOCAIT so students have equitable access to diverse teachers. (SF 1012)

Leaders introduce earlier legislative deadlines

Governor Walz met with legislative leaders this week in a bipartisan press conference to announce the implementation of additional legislative deadlines for the 2019 session. These deadlines introduce benchmarks that major financial legislation would need to meet before the end of session, aiming to give legislators more time to negotiate and review spending bills, increase transparency, and reduce the tensions of the budget setting process.

The new deadlines, which require finance bills to be passed off their respective floors by May 1st, are intended to help ease the tension which has stemmed from late or inflated budget bills in the past. The earlier deadlines aim to give both legislators and the governor more time to review spending bills and increases the transparency of budget discussions for the public.

Upcoming Legislative Town Hall Meetings

I will be hosting two town hall meetings on Saturday, February 23, one for each house district. Details are below. Please join us in district to voice your opinions and to hear updates from your local officials.

Residents of 42A:

Join Senator Jason Isaacson

at Shoreview City Hall

4600 Victoria St N, Shoreview, MN 55126

Saturday, February 23, 2019

12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

District 42A includes all of Arden Hills, Mounds View, northern Shoreview (north of County Road F and Snail Lake Roads) and Spring Lake Park (precinct 1-R only)

Residents of 42B:

Join Senator Jason Isaacson and Representative Jamie Becker-Finn

at Shoreview City Hall

4600 Victoria St N, Shoreview, MN 55126

Saturday, February 23, 2019

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM (doors at 9:30)

District 42B includes all of Gem Lake, Little Canada, Vadnais Heights, southern Shoreview, and Roseville (north of County Road C W and East of Snelling/HWY 51)

Parkland Shooting Anniversary

One year ago, on Valentine’s Day, a 19-year-old former student walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and opened fire, changing the lives of hundreds of people forever. 17 students and teachers were killed that day, and 14 others were wounded in one of the deadliest shootings in United States history. The shooting spawned a renewed call for gun regulation across the nation, along with creating a new generation of activists.

In the year since, the Never Again MSD movement was born. Survivors such as Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, and Cameron Kasky were key figures in organizing events like the March for Our Lives, which had over 1 million participants across the country demanding safer schools and an end to gun violence. In St Paul alone, more than 18,000 people participated in a march that culminated on the lawn of the Capitol.

Gun violence prevention advocacy group Protect Minnesota spent a day on the hill this week to raise awareness around gun violence. They hosted a press conference to highlight the new Minnesota Department of Health statistics on gun deaths in Minnesota, where legislators called upon the Senate to be open to receiving the background check and red flag legislation that is expected to reach the House floor during this session. Protect Minnesota members spent the remainder of the afternoon in the Capitol Rotunda, first hosting a memorial in honor of the Parkland victims, featuring student speakers from local high schools, and later a reading of the names of Minnesotans who lost their lives to gun violence in 2018.