House addresses ongoing issues

Transportation, school choice, public safety debated


Emma Kempf

The blue line light rail moves down 5th St in downtown Minneapolis on April 22.

Since the inauguration of President Trump, some House topics such as transportation have shifted in the Minnesota House while others like school choice have just begun to appear, according to House representative Cheryl Youakim (DFL).

According to Youakim, the House is conflicted over transportation issues, especially the light rail project. Youakim said House Democrats want to expand the light rail, while House Republicans are working to divert funding away from the plan.

“I support (the light rail), the last few years I’ve defended light rail bills and I’ve been fighting for the expansion of it. Republicans have been introducing bills to take away power from the cities and direct it toward the state level, and are trying to remove the light rail,” Youakim said.

According to Youakim, Republicans are trying to take away light rail funding not only locally but also from federal levels.

“84 Republicans recently wrote a letter to President Trump’s Secretary of Transportation to defund the light rail project,” Youakim said.

Junior Sean McSherry said he thinks the light rail is a solution to weak public transportation.

“I would really like to see the light rail put in because I personally feel like our public transportation system is not as great as it was before,” McSherry said. “Public transportation would be built up through the expansion of the light rail.”

Youakim said school choice is a newer topic of discussion, and she disagrees with school choice bills because she thinks public schools need more funding.

“I voted against both school choice bills, I believe our state needs to raise funds for public schools,” Youakim said. “There is a proposal to give 70% tax deductions to people who donate $10,000 to private schools — 70% is way too big of a deduction.”

According to Youakim, minority protections have also been an important topic because of events like mosque burnings and bomb threats to synagogues.

Youakim said the House has addressed the issue but hasn’t passed any bills for it yet.

“The House has been addressing these (threats). Last week a bill was introduced that provides funds for nonprofit organizations that protect these people. However, it got stuck and hasn’t made much progress,” Youakim said.

Sophomore Alexander Lehman said he thinks minority safety is an important issue because minorities are being threatened regularly.

“With Trump and his ideology of dealing with immigrants and the fact that there’s some corrupt law enforcement within our country, minorities especially have a reason to not feel safe,” Lehman said.

Youakim said she thinks Minnesota needs to invest more in education and transportation because these problems will heavily affect the future economy.

“Investing in our kids will create a future workforce and a better economy. We can’t grow our economy without education,” Youakim said. “I hope that by the end of the 2017 Legislative Session, (the House) can make a decision for the light rail expansion.”