Office of Representative Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL-New Brighton)
As the Minnesota House prepares to adjourn for the year, Representative Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL - New Brighton) has several pieces of legislation that will be sent to the Governor's Office that will invest in education, improve access to health care, restore economic security, and improve the lives of all Minnesotans.
“I’m glad we were able to find common ground this session to pass legislation that will have a profound impact on peoples’ lives,” said Representative Kunesh-Podein. “We have a lot of work left to do, but we approved measures to make sure all Minnesotans have access to a great education, health care they can afford, and safe, vibrant communities.”
Representative Kunesh-Podein chief authored several bills that provide support to programs that serve low-income pregnant women and families with children. With no financial increases since 1986, the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) helps 91,000 families with children find and keep employment and meet their basic needs every month. A legislative increase to Minnesota Family Investment Program recipients was included in the final omnibus Taxes bill and has now been passed by the House and Senate.
Equally successful was a bill to improve assistance for children with disabilities through the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act option and another to establish a program to support community solutions for healthy child development.
As expected, Representative Kunesh-Podein’s bipartisan bill that creates a state task force to address the historic endemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Minnesota was included in the omnibus Public Safety bill and was passed by the House and Senate. Currently, there is no official state or national system in place to collect data on Native women in Minnesota who face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average.
Also included in the Public Safety bill was Representative Kunesh-Podein’s bill, known as the “buttocks bill,” which removes an exception to criminal sexual conduct in order to include non-consensual, intentional touching of another person’s clothed buttocks. A third successful Public Safety bill removes the requirement that federally-recognized tribes in Minnesota must have consent from their local county sheriff in order for tribal police departments to enforce state law.
Though the Senate did not take them up, Representative Kunesh-Podein successfully passed the following bills in the House:
- The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to provide for guaranteed gender equality under the law.
- Funding for the Increase Teachers of Color Act, which seeks to ensure schools have teachers who reflect the diversity of the students they teach by doubling American Indian teachers and teachers of color.