Throughout my 32 years in the Minnesota House of Representatives, I‘ve worked hard on behalf of those that are economically and socially disadvantaged or underrepresented, because that is part of my own life experience as a child growing up in a farming family that were share-croppers in southwestern Minnesota.
Air quality continues to be a significant issue for many neighborhoods in my district and across Minnesota. The state currently monitors air quality by collecting data from several fixed points across the Twin Cities area. The problem with that strategy is that our low income and minority neighborhoods are regularly under served by the existing data collection system. That’s why I am working on legislation that would implement mobile air monitoring systems that will enable us to target areas of concern, compare them to other areas and lead us toward ensuring that these neighborhoods enjoy the same level of air quality that all communities enjoy.
Similar to many metro areas across the country, we struggle mightily with issues relating to affordable housing. This year we were able to invest over $22 million in housing opportunities that will enable people to stabilize their housing situation. This can help families by making it easier for people to gain employment, for students to succeed in school, and for neighborhoods to improve their overall economic standing.
Lastly, I worked hard to achieve marriage equality for same sex couples. It took an enormous amount of work by thousands of volunteers across the state to vote down a discriminatory anti-gay constitutional amendment in the 2012 election and to then mobilize an even broader coalition to pass a strong marriage equality bill. With that signing, Minnesota became the 12th state in the country (plus the District of Colombia) to allow same sex couples the right to marry. We proved that marriage is about love and commitment between two individuals, no matter what their gender is.
Karen Clark is a Minnesota State Representative.