#ThePeoplesSession Highlights What The Legislative Session Didn’t Do

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Wintana Melekin -Neighborhoods Organizing For Change

Bill Sorem

Wintana Melekin -Neighborhoods Organizing For Change

When government doesn’t act, there’s a price to pay. This year, because the Minnesota legislature didn’t act, that price will come in the form of higher tuition, denied voting rights, and longer commutes, say various advocacy groups. That’s despite bipartisan support for the bills that would have fixed some of those problems.

Groups that attended #ThePeoplesSession outside where the marathon special legislative session was going on Friday aired their frustration and grievances. Most of their anger was focused on the Republican-controlled House, which refused to give many of their bills a hearing.

Amy Foster is with ISAIAH, lives in northeast Minneapolis and relies on public transit. She wanted to see more money put into transit and transportation. She can get to her job just fine during the week. But if she were to take public transit to go grocery shopping on a Saturday, it would be a four-hour trip.

Nathenael is a convicted felon. He says it’s hard enough to get a job because of his record. But he and 47,000 other felons who have been released from prison but have yet to complete years of parole do not have the right to vote. A measure that would have restored that right did not pass this year despite bipartisan support. Governor Mark Dayton wanted to make it part of the special session, but Republican leaders would not go along with the idea.

Because of a budget surplus, millions of dollars were available to fund higher education, but lawmakers did not provide enough funding to prevent tuition increases. That’s a “shame,” according to Ryan Kennedy, Executive Director at Minnesota Public Interest Group (MPIRG).

Neighborhoods Organizing For Change (NOC) organized the rally.

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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