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Senate Media Services

Capitol Report: Addressing Housing and Homelessness

A new apartment complex called Identity Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota has delayed opening, leaving the students who signed leases with limited housing options as the fall semester begins. Senator Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville, Chair of the Senate Housing and Homelessness Prevention Committee and Senator Eric Lucero, R-Saint Michael, Lead Republican of the committee, join Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about the unfinished Dinkytown apartment complex, reforming landlord/tenant laws, the high cost of housing in Minnesota and homelessness prevention efforts.

Also in the program, historian Brian Pease explains the history and significance of the battle flags on display in the Minnesota State Capitol.

Capitol Report: Changing the Metropolitan Council / Managing Driver’s License Backlogs / Previewing Transportation Issues

The 2023 legislative session prompted the formation a task force to study and evaluate options to reform and reconstitute the Metropolitan Council, a regional taxing authority, planning agency and provider of services like sewage, parks, and transportation in the Twin Cities. Senator Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about the task force, the latest with the Southwest Light Rail Transit project, driver’s license testing backlogs and to preview issues likely to come up in the 2024 legislative session.

Minnesota Public Radio and Fox9 News recently reported that parents and teenagers are again frustrated by difficulties in navigating the system for scheduling a road test as part of getting a driver's license. Senator Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, authored a bill in 2020 that would allow third parties to offer road tests. She plans to reintroduce the proposal in the coming legislative session and joins Shannon to outline the details.

Also in the program, highlights from an informational Senate hearing regarding the unfinished Dinkytown apartment complex that has left a number of students at University of Minnesota without a place to live. Plus, the second meeting of the Legislative Task Force on Aging yields public testimony from advocates for older Minnesotans.

Delay in DInkytown Apartment Opening Yields Senate Hearing

University of Minnesota students expressed their frustrations over the delayed opening of the Identity Dinkytown apartments to members of the Senate Wednesday, September 13. The Committee on Higher Education, along with the Committee on Housing and Homelessness Prevention, held a joint hearing to investigate the impact of the delay.

According to Shana Tomenes, attorney for University of Minnesota Legal Services, most leases for the 500-unit apartment started by the end of August, and students paid their first monthly rental payment by August 1. On August 2, she explained, students were informed that the apartments would not be ready. Current completion projections are set for the end of September or early October. Tomenes said that students were provided two options: a $150 daily gift card with the responsibility of finding their own housing or an $80 gift card with a hotel room "that is somewhat close to campus." For some students, she explained, the choices are difficult due to limited early morning transit options and the lack of cooking and laundry facilities.

University of Minnesota student Siya Sakhardande said, "The taking of rent before notifying the tenants that the building would not be ready was outrageous, especially because of how late in the summer students were being informed. Looking for housing in Dinkytown this late in the summer is a risky gamble as most apartments and management companies have already filled up their units for the academic year and overprice what they have left because of the location compared to our campus."

Senator Lindsay Port, chair of the Senate Housing and Homelessness Prevention Committee, said, "We are committed to ensuring that renters and tenants, whether they are students or not, are treated equally and fairly in our housing system." She said the committee will be exploring legislation "to ensure that every Minnesotan has a safe and stable place to call home."

Keeping School Resource Officers / Getting Back to School

Republican lawmakers, law enforcement officers and school officials have recently called on Governor Tim Walz to convene a special legislative session in order to repeal or amend a new law that prohibits school staff, including School Resource Officers, from using certain physical restraints on students. On this week's program, Senator Zach Duckworth, R-Lakeville, ranking member of the Senate Education Policy Committee, is leading the effort to change the law, and he joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to explain why.

Minnesota students are back in the classroom, just months after a legislative session that saw new policies signed into law and a boost in public school funding. Senator Steve Cwodzinski, DFL-Eden Prairie, chair of the Senate Education Policy Committee, discusses the recent concerns over School Resource Officers, standardized test scores and some of the changes coming to Minnesota’s schools.

Visiting with Lawmakers at the State Fair

At the great Minnesota Get Together, host Shannon Loehrke visits with lawmakers about a variety of topics, including issues they plan on addressing in the next legislative session, ways the pandemic has changed society and unique attributes of Minnesota. Plus, a new legislative task force on aging outlines goals, and Governor Tim Walz appoints a new chief justice and associate justice to the Minnesota Supreme Court.