The election on November 6th resulted in some big changes to the composition of the Minnesota Legislature. Due to redistricting, Minnesotans voted in new legislative districts, and all 201 seats at the Capitol were up for election. Both houses have had Republican majorities these last two years, but in the next session, the DFL will have a 39-28 majority in the Senate and a 73-61 majority in the House. The 2013 legislature will also have an unusually large freshman class, with 23 newly elected senators and 38 newly elected representatives (though a few have served previously). All this change represents a new opportunity for JRLC to push for progress on several key social justice issues.
For the first time in over twenty years, the governorship and both houses of the state legislature are in the hands of one party, in this case the DFL. We can expect Gov. Dayton to be assertive in his budget proposal, and with Democrat majorities in the house and senate, he should be able to accomplish roughly 80% of what he proposes.
The Family Economic Security Act, the poverty-combatting bill JRLC helped push in the last session and which we emphasized at our recent candidate forums, now has a much improved chance of passing. Minnesota may also see some tax reforms that promote fairness and help the state regain its sound financial footing in the wake of years of cutting services, budget shifts, and one-time solutions. There is also a great possibility of moving ahead on the impartial courts initiative, an issue we have long worked on with the Coalition for Impartial Justice. JRLC advocates a constitutional amendment that would ensure Minnesota judicial elections remain free of special interest money and highly partisan battles. JRLC will also work to secure funding for statewide services for victims of human trafficking and a strong investment in affordable housing.
Because so many of the recently elected legislators are new, now is the perfect time to contact your senator and representative to introduce yourself! Tell them you are a constituent and share which issues are most important to you. If you have a new legislator in your district, you have the opportunity to start building a relationship at the very beginning of his or her legislative career. Make sure your voice is heard!
Image Source: Minnesota State Capitol by TBoard on Flickr