Sen. Smith fought for a spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee because ag is the foundation of Minnesota's economy.
All Minnesotans are impacted by the Farm Bill, and as we move into the upcoming Farm Bill debate, Sen. Smith wants to make sure she brings together Minnesotans with a deep understanding of farm policy and how it impacts the state's producers, businesses, and communities. That's why shortly after joining the Senate, Sen. Smith launched her Farm Bill Working Group—so she can push Minnesota priorities after hearing from as many Minnesota experts as possible. She'll also be sure to keep fighting hard to defend the sugar program.
Sen. Smith understands that it's been a difficult past few years for agriculture, and she believes that the federal government should be giving farmers more support. She's heard from farmers about the high cost of health care-prescription drugs in particular. Sen. Smith's very first bill she introduced aims to address the cost of prescription drugs by making it possible to access more affordable prescription drugs.
It's also important to invest more in Greater Minnesota, and from her leadership post on the Rural Development and Energy Subcommittee, Sen. Smith will be working to expand access to broadband and better infrastructure.
Thousands of Minnesotans are employed in the ethanol and biodiesel industry—selling corn and soybeans to biofuel facilities boosts the incomes of farmers around the state. Biofuels are good for energy security, for our environment, and for our economy, which is why Sen. Smith will advocate for a strong Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) program.
Senator Smith believes that a strong public education system—from early childhood to higher education—is one of the most important investments we can make. A high-quality education system enables people of all ages and from all backgrounds to reach their full potential, support their families with good-paying jobs, and become well informed and engaged citizens. Schools help keep our economy and our communities strong.
That’s why, as Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, Sen. Smith helped make all-day kindergarten accessible to every child in Minnesota and expanded early childhood programs. And as Senator, she’s committed to addressing the high cost of higher education and the burden of student debt. As a member of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Smith will work on these issues and other priorities for Minnesota’s students and their families.
Sen. Smith believes that every young person has a right to a high-quality K-12 education. That starts with addressing the teacher shortage, particularly in rural areas and in STEM and technical education fields, and ensuring that K-12 teachers have the support they need to be successful in the classroom.
When it comes to higher education, Sen. Smith believes that people should not have to take on excessive amounts of debt to further their education. Yet, the average debt for students graduating from a four-year college in Minnesota is $31,000. That’s not fair to students, and it’s slowing down our economy. It also prevents many low-income and middle class students from even seeking degrees.
But not every person aspires to earn a 4-year degree—nor should they. Sen. Smith believes strongly that we need to increase our investments in Career and Technical Education and vocational training. Not only will this help more young people gain good-paying jobs, it will also help address the “skills gap,” ensuring that employers can find employees with the right training.
Sen. Smith is also committed to addressing the opportunity gaps that prevent too many students from reaching their full potential. And believes that we need to do everything we can to ensure that every student—including LGBTQ youth—feels safe in the classroom. Furthermore, as Minnesota continues to become more diverse, Sen. Smith believes we need to invest in high-quality English Language Learner programs and other initiatives that support new Minnesotans as they become members of our communities.
Finally, Sen. Smith understands that many barriers to education occur outside the classroom. Things like access to childcare, transportation, or housing can impact whether a student is successful in school. And she believes we should support schools in helping more students overcome these barriers.
The emerging clean energy economy supports thousands of good-paying jobs in Minnesota and around the country. And wind, solar, and biofuels are helping to reduce carbon emissions, lower energy bills, and support rural economies. It’s clear that clean energy is a win-win for Minnesota, and that’s why Senator Tina Smith—a member of the Senate Energy Committee—is fighting for federal policies that support these innovative technologies.
Minnesota has long been a leader in renewable energy. The state ranks eighth in the nation for clean-energy patents, and in the last decade, clean energy startups have attracted more than $450 million in investments to Minnesota. In fact, because Minnesota is already close to meeting its goal of generating 25 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025. While she served as Lieutenant Governor, Sen. Smith pushed for increasing Minnesota’s goal to 50 percent by 2030. A 50 percent standard could create up to 1,500 new jobs each year in the state while lowering the cost of energy for businesses and families, not to mention reducing harmful air pollution. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s biofuel industry generates nearly $5 billion for the state economy every year and supports thousands of jobs, all while producing a fuel that is more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
The bottom line is that clean energy isn’t just smart environmental policy—it’s smart economic policy. The federal government should be following Minnesota’s lead and doing more to accelerate the clean energy transition. We can do this by funding more clean energy research, extending tax credits that incentivize renewable energy, and supporting biofuels. You can count on Sen. Smith to continue fighting for these policies in the Senate.
Minnesota—in protecting freshwater resources and leading the way in creating a clean energy economy—has always been at the forefront of crafting responsible environmental policy. And as a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Smith carries this spirit to Washington and continues to fight for federal policies that seek to combat climate change, preserve clean air and clean water, and protect our most precious natural landscapes.
Despite the great work being done in states like Minnesota, environmental challenges persist every day. Terrible accidents like the Flint water crisis where cost-cutting measures led to dangerous levels of lead in Michigan homes, and sweeping challenges like climate change, make clear that the federal government has an important role to play in protecting our environment. Ignoring this responsibility would put our natural treasures, our public health, and even our economy at risk.
Part of this responsibility means fighting back against efforts to rollback responsible environmental policy. Decisions like pulling out of the Paris Agreement, a landmark international agreement to address climate change, and undermining a plan to reduce air pollution are both outdated and out of touch with what most Americans want. Sen. Smith will fight back against policies that threaten our environment and our public health, but she stands ready work with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure our environmental policies work better for Minnesotans and all Americans.
Senator Smith believes that every person deserves access to affordable, high-quality health care. That’s why, as Lieutenant Governor, she fought to protect, improve, and expand access to health care coverage for Minnesotans. And now that she’s in the Senate, Sen. Smith is continuing that fight as a member of the Senate Health Committee and a leader in the Rural Health Caucus.
A top priority for Sen. Smith is addressing the high cost of healthcare. Too many Minnesotans are burdened by the high cost of their health care coverage, and others are going without insurance. That’s why Sen. Smith is working with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the underlying issues that make health care expensive, starting with the high price of prescription drugs.
Sen. Smith is committed to working in a bipartisan way to make sure our current health care system works for everyone. That said, she will oppose any efforts to limit coverage for Minnesotans, slash Medicaid, and deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions. Minnesotans and people across this country rely on their health coverage and any attempt to take that away is unacceptable.
Protecting coverage for Minnesotans includes defending vital programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Over one million Minnesotans are covered by Medicaid and CHIP, many of whom are children, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities. Cuts to Medicaid or other federal health programs would hurt families, particularly in rural and underserved communities. That’s why Sen. Smith will fight hard to make sure that Minnesotans can continue to rely on these programs now and in the future.
In her previous role as Lieutenant Governor, Sen. Smith championed efforts to tackle the opioid and drug abuse epidemic that’s ravaging communities in Minnesota and across the country. At the federal level, she plans to continue that fight, pushing for increased funding so that state and tribal leaders, health care professionals, law enforcement, and all those affected by this epidemic can effectively tackle opioid addiction and other alcohol and substance use disorders. Sen. Smith will also advocate for commonsense policies that make sure insurers and providers treat mental illness and substance abuse disorders in the same way they treat physical illnesses.
Throughout her life, Sen. Smith been a tireless champion for women’s health and a woman’s right to make decisions about her own health care. As Senator, she can assure you that won’t change.
Sen. Smith is proud to represent the eleven tribes who call Minnesota home.
When Senator Smith first joined the Senate, she asked to serve on the Indian Affairs Committee because she’s heard time and time again from leaders in Indian Country who are frustrated that policy decisions are being made without bringing tribes to the table. There are tremendous needs in Indian Country, and Sen. Smith understands that leaders in Indian Country often have answers for how the federal government can step up and fulfill its obligation to tribal communities.
Sen. Smith wants to make sure programs—from energy and economy development to health and education—are adequately supported. She believes we need to address the effects of the opioid crisis on tribal communities, especially on mothers and children. We need to address the lack of housing in Indian Country, which makes it harder to attract teachers, law enforcement officers, and health care workers that reservations need.
Sen. Smith believes we also need to give tribes the tools to develop their workforce and attract business and investment, while also investing in basic infrastructure like roads and broadband.
Senator Smith is committed to fighting for more jobs and building a stronger economy—one that works for everyone so businesses grow and workers get better jobs with better pay, and so we can invest in infrastructure and manufacturing. Sen. Smith wants to address college affordability and expand career and workforce training for young people who don’t go to a four-year college.
Despite the fact that the economy is rebounding, too many Minnesota families struggle to make ends meet, face a job loss, or grapple with a shrinking pay check. Sen. Smith believes that in order to build an economy that works for everyone, we need a fairer tax code that supports working families, not just the wealthiest of Americans. We need paid family and medical leave for workers so that parents can stay home to take care of a newborn or a sick a family member without losing a paycheck. We need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to close the pay gap between men and women. We need fair trade policies that help Minnesota workers, businesses, and farmers get ahead, and we need to crack down on foreign countries that break international trade rules and put American workers out of jobs. We need to hold Wall Street accountable and make sure they don’t cause another economic collapse. We need to invest in small businesses and support entrepreneurs. And we need to help foster the next generation of Minnesota innovators by investing in research and development.
As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Sen. Smith will build on Minnesota’s proud history of invention and creativity by supporting our classrooms, students, and our workforce.
Minnesota has a proud tradition of being at the forefront of helping to defend our national security. Elements of the Minnesota National Guard led the Allied invasion forces in North Africa and Italy during World War II, they dutifully protected our northern border during the Cold War, and they have been called upon time and again in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide warfighting support, medical evacuation, and transportation. Sen. Smith will carry this spirit of leadership and fight for principled national security policies that prudently employ our investments in personnel, technology, and partnerships with our allies for the benefits of our nation.
The U.S. military is the best in the world. However, as the recently released National Defense Review highlighted, the number of threats to our national security is growing. Terrorism, great power competition, and nuclear proliferation will not be easy national security challenges but the way forward is clear. We must continue to invest in personnel, technology, and the partnerships that have been so successful at ensuring our security.
It is also important to recognize that our national security is best served when the military is not our only tool. We must also make effective use of diplomacy and development. Diplomacy is essential if we are going to solve tough security challenges from the Middle East to China and North Korea – without dangerous military conflict. And fostering development is not only good for the communities where it happens – it is good for the U.S. because it promotes stability and prosperity and fosters alliances.
The men and women who have honorably served our nation in uniform deserve our utmost respect, and when they return home we need to make sure our veterans get the benefits and care they earned. Sen. Tina Smith believes this includes ensuring they’re able to pursue higher education, find housing and good jobs, and helping them heal from the wounds of war and access health care. It also means making sure veterans receive quality, timely care, and that we actively seek out legislative fixes when we find gaps in the law that prevent them from receiving the benefits they’ve justly earned.
In order to do this, Sen. Smith encourages you to reach out to her when you hear about a veteran who needs assistance. Whether it be helping to connect them to services, advocating on their behalf, or working to fix a legislative issues, Sen. Smith is here to help.