With the conclusion of the 2019 legislative sessions, the following are highlighted issues that Tubman monitored and supported through our work with community partners and coalitions, including the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women (MCBW), the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, and the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Successes this year included:
Increase to Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP): Cash assistance to families using MFIP, which includes many families seeking services at Tubman, increased by $100/month. This is the first increase in cash assistance since 1986.
Funding for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention: New funding for prevention programming was included in the final budget, with appropriations of $375,000 in FY2020 and another $375,000 in FY2021.
Repealed the “Voluntary Relationships” defense to criminal sexual conduct: This was signed into law on May 2, 2019, and repeals a longstanding legal provision that gave spouses and cohabitating partners certain exemptions from sex assault charges.
Creation of the Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: This task force was created and funded for the next two years to address the endemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Minnesota, including collecting and analyzing data, better understanding the causes of violence, and reducing and preventing violence against Indigenous women. Currently, Minnesota has the 9th highest rate of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the country.
Areas for continued advocacy in future sessions include:
Funding for Domestic Abuse Transformation Programming: A request for new funding to support domestic abuse transformation programming (services for people who have abused, such as Tubman’s Relationship Violence Intervention Program) did not pass this year. MCBW is planning to request this funding again in the next legislative biennium.
From MCBW’s statement:
“If we do not invest in programming to transform abusive behavior, we are bound to a world in which domestic violence and its fatalities are inevitable. After forty years working to address domestic violence in Minnesota, we know domestic violence is not inevitable. Domestic violence in not woven into the fabric of our communities. Behaviors can change and we can create communities free of violence. Decades of evidence points to meaningful intervention – such as domestic violence transformation programming – and prevention as our pathway towards a violence-free Minnesota.
Restore the Vote: The bill to “Restore the Vote” was not included in the final omnibus bill this session. The bill would have permitted people convicted of felonies to vote once they have completed their incarceration. Currently, people with convictions may vote only after they have completed any incarceration sentence, as well as time on probation or parole.