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2014 Legislative Priorities

Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans releases 2014 Legislative Priorities

The Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans (CAPM), a state agency that advises the Minnesota legislature and governor’s office on behalf of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, has identified areas CAPM will focus on for the upcoming 2014 legislative session.

Health and Human Services

October 1, 2013 saw the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act in Minnesota, popularly known as “Obamacare.” In Minnesota, our own version of a one-stop shop for health insurance is called “MNSure”. Efforts to disperse information include outreach grants and collaborations with community-based organizations and the use of trained staff to assist citizens in accessing and enrolling in health insurance offered through MNSure. CAPM is committed to ensuring the AAPI community is fully informed and takes advantage of this important opportunity to reduce health disparities. According to the 2010 Census, the Cambodian, Hmong, and Vietnamese communities have the highest percentage of uninsured individuals. CAPM will proactively communicate critical information, support legislation and initiatives that increase access to health insurance such as the Minnesota Community Health Worker (MCHW) project, and make recommendations toward the anticipated “Advancing Health Equity” report. These are critical steps to address health disparities that continue to plague our AAPI community. 

Particularly, CAPM will support the Minnesota Community Health Worker project’s mission to reduce cultural and linguistic barriers to health care. One of MCHW’s goals is to increase the number of health care workers from underserved communities who will play a critical role in bridging the gap between their respective cultures and health care systems.

Specific Areas of Focus

  • Access to Healthcare Insurance
  • Health Disparities
  • Cultural and Linguistic Competency Training and Investment
  • Domestic Violence Support Services

Education

Education disparities in Minnesota are among the nation’s worst. We understand the complex nature of our education system and are committed to addressing the achievement gap at multiple levels. Early childhood education, kindergarten through 12th grade, and higher education each have their own disparities with unique needs and solutions. Early childhood education plays an important role towards reducing the achievement gap. The 2013 legislative session saw the passage of early childhood education scholarships and the creation of the Office of Early Learning, both of which need to have continued support. CAPM will invest effort so that the neediest AAPI families have access and enroll in the scholarship program. However, the work cannot stop there; gains made in early childhood education need to be complemented by continued investments and progress in the K-12 and higher education systems in order to close the achievement gap.

The Achievement and Integration Program was revitalized with the 2013 legislative session. Its goals are to pursue racial and economic integration, increase student achievement, and reduce racial academic disparities. CAPM will supplement this movement to reduce the achievement gap by advocating for the passage of the anti-bullying bill. Additionally, CAPM will consider supporting the implementation of Minnesota Department of Education’s External Family EngagementStakeholder’s Committee’s anticipated legislative recommendations.

CAPM will also support initiatives to align Minnesota’s education and workforce systems as this addresses educational attainment and current job market demands. Two examples are the FastTRAC program (see “Workforce Training and Development” below for more information) and the “Career Pathways and Technical Education Taskforce”, which will produce a report for the 2014 legislature with recommendations. This report is anticipated to recommend changes to secondary and postsecondary education; CAPM will consider supporting these recommendations and working with MnSCU to implement such changes.

Specific Areas of Focus

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Education-workforce alignment with secondary and postsecondary education
  • Safe and Supportive Schools Legislation (anti-bullying)

Economic Development

CAPM supports multiple strategies meant to address economic recovery: minimum wage increase, workforce training and development, and small business support. Minimum wage increase is important because it will support low-income families, increase consumer spending, decrease reliance on social welfare programs, and foster social mobility. The 2012 U.S. Census noted that Southeast Asians have the highest poverty rates among all AAPI ethnic groups, ranging from 15% to 32%. This figure contrasts with the 16% average for all AAPI and dispels the model minority myth that all AAPIs are doing well. The contrast also supports the need for more collection of disaggregated data. AAPI small business owners also need help to develop technical capacity, access capital and other financial resources, and find a medium between a minimum wage increase and their continued existence. Workforce training and development can help individuals obtain jobs needed by the local market or obtain higher paying jobs. CAPM supports the continued implementation of recommendations from the Governor’s Workforce Development Council as well as expanding initiatives such as the FastTRAC program. The FastTRAC program has already shown some initial success with AAPI enrollment, 5.7% of total program enrollees, in 23 of their 47 programs. CAPM will advise Governor Dayton and the legislature to ensure the AAPI community is well supported in their economic recovery plan, programs, and initiatives.

Specific Areas of Focus

  • FastTRAC
  • Minimum Wage
  • Small Business Support (technical and financial assistance)
  • Workforce Training and Development

CAPM will hold a Day at the Capitol on April 9th, 2014 to engage Minnesota’s public leaders in workforce and economic issues of importance to the AAPI community. Community members are encouraged to attend and share their concerns and experiences with legislators.

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