Rep. Patricia Mueller: Session is over, but our work continues
This week, we wrapped up the first legislative session of the biennium with quite a bit left undone. Because House and Senate leadership waited until the final day of session to even agree on budget targets, not a single budget bill reached the governor’s desk. That makes 2021 the least productive budget session in nearly 40 years.
Despite the lack of budget bills, there were some good policies that crossed the finish line on time this year. One such bill added Minnesota to PSYPact, a psychology interjurisdiction compact that will allow licensed psychologists in Minnesota to practice via telemedicine in other compact states, and allow those from other compact states to practice here. This will allow for better continuity of care for patients who move across state lines, and allows greater access to care, especially for those who are geographically isolated or have trouble getting around.
We also passed the first bill in state history to have entirely female authorship with the maximum number of authors in both the House and the Senate. This bill would allow for conditional release for up to a year of an inmate who is up to eight months postpartum, or an inmate who is pregnant for the duration of the pregnancy and up to one year postpartum. This would allow the Department of Corrections Commissioner to release an inmate to community-based programming that provides prenatal or postnatal care, and teaches parenting skills, employment, educational, chemical dependency, or mental health services. This recognizes the incredible importance of life in the womb, and how necessary it is for mothers to have time to bond with their children after birth.
With so much left undone this session, there are a number of bills I will be advocating for as we assemble bills for the upcoming special session. I have fought hard for my short call substitute teacher bill, which will make it easier for schools to hire subs when they need them. I am also carrying bills that would provide funding for Austin Aspires and 180 Degrees, both great local nonprofits that will do great work with this potential funding.
One incredibly important bill that needs to be included in the public safety budget bill is HF 707, which makes extensive changes to the Criminal Sexual Conduct statute, and would provide justice to many more sexual assault survivors. There is also juvenile justice language that I have supported throughout this session.
I am incredibly disappointed by the way session ended, with no budget bills, no end to the peacetime emergency, and no full federal conformity for Paycheck Protection Program and Unemployment Insurance tax relief. With so much left undone, I look forward to working hard over the next several weeks before special session, and I hope to vote for a fiscally responsible budget that works for Minnesotans when all is said and done.