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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

MN considers 'organizing' protections for renters

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Monday, February 26, 2024   

Minnesota lawmakers face growing calls this session to boost access to affordable housing and there is a proposal to lend a voice to existing renters who fear speaking out about poor living conditions.

A Minnesota House committee has advanced a measure which would allow tenants of a residential complex to organize efforts if they feel their landlord is not keeping up with necessary repairs. The bill also protects tenants from retaliation, such as unexpected fee.

Marion Butler, a tenant advocate from Brooklyn Park, told lawmakers she received retaliation after complaining to city hall.

"We are trying to hold them accountable for the things that we've been going through, and in turn, they are retaliating and using unethical tactics," Butler testified.

Bill supporters said such situations can be especially hard on renters who speak little to no English. Landlords could be fined $1,000. An official with a large property management company also testified, voicing concerns about unauthorized people being let into buildings during organizing efforts.

Advocates like Butler stressed the bill speaks to the broader issue of vulnerable populations needing platforms to demand fairness for a basic human need.

"We pay money to live there, but we have no power at all as tenants," Butler contended. "We're expected to stay silent regardless of our housing conditions, and that is not fair."

If it wins final approval, this bill would follow a handful of other renter protections Minnesota adopted last year, including requirements for landlords to fully disclose nonoptional fees in a lease agreement, and tighter restrictions on landlords' entry into a rental property.


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