Last week, Gov. Tim Walz signed the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act into law, announced two vacancies in Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District, released a statement after the passing of former United States Senator David Durenberger, visited an elementary school to discuss his budget to make Minnesota the best state for kids to grow up and authorized emergency assistance for eight Northeastern and Southwestern Minnesota counties due to damage caused by heavy snowstorms
On Jan. 31, Walz signed HF 1, PRO Act into law, establishing reproductive freedom as a fundamental right for every Minnesotan. The PRO Act establishes that every Minnesotan has a fundamental right to make decisions about their own reproductive health, including the right to use or refuse reproductive health care, to continue a pregnancy and give birth and to obtain an abortion. Governor Walz was joined by over 100 legislators, advocates and health care providers.
“Last November, Minnesotans spoke loud and clear: They want their reproductive rights protected – not stripped away,” said Walz. “Today, we are delivering on our promise to put up a firewall against efforts to reverse reproductive freedom. No matter who sits on the Minnesota Supreme Court, this legislation will ensure Minnesotans have access to reproductive health care for generations to come. Here in Minnesota, your access to reproductive health care and your freedom to make your own health care decisions are preserved and protected.”
The administration states that the bill codifies protections for all reproductive health care, including but not limited to: contraception, sterilization, preconception care, maternity care, abortion care, family planning and fertility services and counseling regarding reproductive health care. The bill also prohibits local units of government from regulating a person’s ability to freely exercise their fundamental right to reproductive health care.
Also on Jan. 31, Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan released the following statements after the passing of former United States Senator David Durenberger.
“I am grateful to have called Senator Durenberger a friend,” said Walz. “His work on health care reform saved lives. He was deeply kind, generous, honest and he put his work on behalf of Minnesota above all else. He valued collaboration and bipartisanship in the spirit of improving peoples’ lives – I will be forever grateful for his service to the state of Minnesota.”
“Senator Durenberger was a tireless leader for Minnesotans and a true friend and mentor,” said Flanagan. “As a senator, he was driven by a commitment to bipartisanship, good faith, and a strong desire to improve the lives of Minnesotans. As a leader, he always sought to show kindness to others and find the common threads holding us all together. His kindness and humanity will be deeply missed. His family and loved ones will remain in our thoughts and prayers.”
In addition, on Jan. 31, the Commission on Judicial Selection announced two vacancies in Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District. The vacancies will occur upon the resignation of the Honorable Bethany A. Fountain Lindberg and the retirement of the Honorable Ellen L. Maas. These seats will be chambered in Buffalo in Wright County and Pine City in Pine County. The commission is seeking applicants who reflect Minnesota’s full diversity. The judges of the Tenth Judicial District have offered to provide informational interviews to prospective applicants. To request more information or for other inquiries about the application process, please contact the Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor at Judicial.Selection@state.mn.us.
On Feb. 1, Walz visited Laura MacArthur Elementary School in Duluth to highlight a series of proposals in the One Minnesota budget to make Minnesota the best state in the country for kids. This $12 billion proposal would lower the cost of child care for middle-class families, reduce child poverty by expanding tax credits for families who need help the most and make the largest investment in public education in state history. The Governor’s education plan will provide universal school meals for students and expand access to special education and mental health resources.
“It was great to be back in Duluth highlighting the historic opportunity we have to make Minnesota the best state in the country for kids and families,” said Walz. “As a former teacher, coach and parent, I am committed to meeting this moment and taking bold action to deliver for our kids and families. Our One Minnesota budget would drastically cut the cost of child care, make historic investments in education, and put Minnesota on a path to ending child poverty.”
Of the initiatives included in the proposal, the administration proposes to reduce child care expenses and provide economic relief to middle class and lower income families, with $539 million in tax credits in 2024-2025 and a $547 million in tax credits in 2026-2027 to expand the Child and Dependent Care Credit, reducing costs for 100,000 Minnesota households. This child care plan would allow families making under $200,000 with one child to receive up to $4,000 a year for child care costs. Families with two children could receive up to $8,000, and families with three children could receive up to $10,500.
On Feb. 2, Walz authorized emergency assistance for eight counties due to damage caused by heavy snowstorms and high winds from Dec. 13 through Dec. 16, 2022.
“Minnesota’s emergency management team continues to work in partnership with local counties to assess and address damages caused by heavy snowstorms in December,” said Walz. “We are committed to delivering assistance quickly and supporting the communities in these counties as they recover from these severe weather events.”
Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Crow Wing, Itasca, Lincoln, Pine and St. Louis counties experienced significant damage caused by severe snowstorms and wind.