Equitable Education

Equity needs to be an active process, something that is practiced and not just a word used in strategic plans and press releases. I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for great public schools. As a state representative, I will constantly work to ensure that every student in Minnesota, regardless of race or zip code, has access to great public schools. 

  • Teacher diversity - More than 96% of Minnesota's teachers are white, despite increasing levels of student diversity in urban, suburban, and even rural schools. Programs like the Minneapolis Residency Program, which supports and trains ESPs to become licensed teachers (also known as Grow Your Own programs) need to be replicated and funded across the state.

  • Teacher prep innovation - Content and regional teacher shortages are a serious and long term threat to our public schools. Solving that requires an honest look at why teachers stay or leave the profession and how colleges, districts, and the state can better support and train new teachers. We should more rigorously fund and support loan forgiveness, the affordability of student teaching, and prep programs that focus on classroom-based learning. 

  • Fully fund special education cross subsidy - Both Republican and Democratic legislatures have failed to address a complicated yet essential funding component that financially harms our schools. The failure of the state to fully fund special education costs unfairly penalizes large districts like Minneapolis. I want to be a leader in the Minneapolis delegation to finally solve this funding gap.


Safe and Affordable Housing

As any teacher can tell you, safe and reliable housing, or the lack thereof, has significant impacts on how students show up to school. As our city and region become more desirable places to live, we must be aware of how families at different incomes levels and of different races are impacted by the tight rental and housing markets. 

  • Naturally occurring affordable housing - The state should incentivize property owners to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing. I look forward to working with city leaders to make this happen.

  • Affordable housing for families at 30-40% area median income - For the lowest income households, the share of income spent on housing is increasing more than other income levels. This problem is particularly acute for families with children. Existing state level housing programs need more funding to scale up their existing pipeline of projects. 

  • Racial and geographic disparities in evictions - Given the racial disparities that exist within Minneapolis regarding evictions, the state should ensure that the judicial system that processes evictions contains no racial biases. 


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Climate Change

As a state legislator, I would look forward to championing renewable and clean energy across our state. Growing up in southern Minnesota, I've seen the power and impact of wind energy on rural communities. Below are three metro-specific climate change related issues I would advocate. 

  • Urban growth boundary - Increasing density and preventing suburban sprawl is an important long term goal for our seven county metro. Stronger state wide land-use planning laws (such as the State Planning Agency which existed in the late 1990s and early 2000s) are essential given the increasing population growth of our region.

  • Congestion pricing - The seriousness of climate change requires lawmakers to think boldly and in the long term. Our MnPASS system is a small example of congestion pricing and I would be open to expanding such a structure in a way that incentivizes mass transit, decreases car dependency, and creates a funding source to reinvestment in transit.

  • Autonomous vehicles - We also need to be preparing now for the positive and negative consequences that may come with autonomous vehicles. The automation that comes with self driving cars has the risk of putting many truck drivers and taxi drivers out of work, increasing our dependency on cars, or promoting suburban sprawl. If approached the right way, self driving cars could play a role in making mass transit more efficient and making it easier to live in the metro area without owning a car. Given that transportation is one of the largest contributions of global warming emissions, we need to think boldly and innovatively. 

  • Highway lids - Also known as land bridges, these infrastructure projects would add additional urban land for housing and additional tax base. They would also be a step towards redressing the displacement and environmental inequities that resulted from the construction of our interstate system.


Criminal Justice Reform

The generational and racial consequences from decades of a failed war on drugs are clear. Our responsibility and opportunity now, in 2018, is to do everything we can to remedy those impacts, eliminate barriers to housing, voting, and employment, and also ensure that future generations won't be burdened by drug policies not rooted in common sense or racial equity.  

  • Restore the right to vote - Over the past 40 years, the number of Minnesotans ineligible to vote because of a criminal record has quadrupled. There are inequities within that population that disproportionately effect our African American and American Indian communities. I will support legislation that restores the right to vote upon release.

  • Legalization of marijuana - I support the full legalization of marijuana, primarily from a criminal justice perspective. Although white and African American Minnesotans use marijuana at similar rates, the black arrest rate is 6 times that for white communities in Hennepin County. There is also the potential for tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars of state revenue that could be used towards schools, roads, or transit.  

  • Expunge criminal marijuana records - With the federal government moving backwards with regards to drug policy, I believe Minnesota can lead the way among the states in finding innovative solutions to reversing the generations of negative impact from the war on drugs. San Francisco recently became the first county to retroactively dismiss marijuana misdemeanors and reduce felonies to misdemeanors. I support a similar approach in Minnesota.

  • Bail reform -   For many low-income Minnesotans, if the price of bail is out of reach, it can result in missed work, more time spent in jail, and a higher likelihood of pleading guilty.  New Jersey recently lead the country in implementing state-wide bail reform, a move that I believe Minnesota should follow. 

  • Ending the statute of limitations for sexual violence - this is a concrete and bipartisan opportunity for Minnesota to lead the nation in validating the voices' of victims of sexual violence. 


Gun Violence

Below are two concrete and immediate steps that Minnesota must take to address gun violence, not only to prevent school shootings, but also domestic abuse based violence and suicides. 

  • Gun violence protection order - Minnesota should join states like California, Oregon, and Washington in passing GVPO, which allows family members and law enforcement to ask a judge for an order that temporarily takes away an individual's firearms if they are displaying signs of danger to themselves or their community. Too often with mass shootings, family and law enforcement are limited in their ability to restrict an individual's access to weapons, even when serious red flags occur. 

  • Universal background checks - Individuals buying firearms at gun shows, from an individual, or online should be required to pass a background check to look for warning signs of domestic abuse or mental health issues that often are precursors to gun violence. 


College Access and College Debt

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Parental Leave and Child Care

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Health Care and Opioid Epidemic

I support a single payer model.

As the Republican controlled federal government turns its back on the healthcare needs of average Americans, it’s essential that states take up the responsibility to build innovative, progressive, and comprehensive healthcare systems. One of the most pressing challenges about healthcare is that spending is projected to significantly increase over the next 25 years, comprising a larger share of the state budget, without a guarantee of better health outcomes for Minnesotans.

I support a healthcare systems that moves away from a fee-for-service model and instead helps patients manage chronic health conditions, choose healthier lifestyle options, all with a lens of racial equity. I also think Minnesota can be a leader in expanding rural Minnesota’s access to telemedecine, something that will assist our rural ageing population.