MINNEAPOLIS — On Tuesday, Feb. 7, President Joe Biden will deliver the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.
This year, members of Congress are once again allowed to invite guests to join them at the president's speech, after coronavirus protocols prevented guests from attending last year.
Here's a look at who Minnesota's representatives have invited to attend the 2023 State of the Union Address, which will be delivered in the House of Representatives chamber.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Amanda Barbosa
Senator Klobuchar is inviting Amanda Barbosa, the wife of a former Army helicopter pilot, to the State of the Union. According to Sen. Klobuchar's office, Barbosa is an advocate for better care for veterans and service members who've been exposed to toxic substances. Barbosa's husband has Stage Four colon cancer, and Sen. Klobuchar worked with the family during the passage of the PACT Act, which expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances.
Sen. Tina Smith: Second Harvest Heartland CEO, Allison O’Toole
Senator Smith will bring Allison O'Toole, CEO of Second Harvest Heartland, to Biden's State of the Union on Tuesday. Each year SHH helps feed hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans experiencing food insecurity. "As one of the largest hunger-relief organizations in the country, Second Harvest has been a tireless advocate for policies and programs that work to end hunger. I’ve seen their operation firsthand and admire their work to provide healthy food where it’s needed most," Sen. Smith said in a statement.
According to Smith's office, SHH was able to provide more than 107 million meals to families in Minnesota and western Wisconsin last year, thanks to federal funding from the American Rescue Plan.
Rep. Angie Craig: Heather Mathews
Heather Mathews, a Specia Education Resources Teacher for more than 20 years, will join Rep. Angie Craig at this year's State of the Union. Mathews teaches at Southview Elementary in Apple Valley and is an advocate for special education funding, students and issues. She also serves as a member of the Dakota County United Executive Board as their Legislative Action Committee Chair.
"The federal government has never fully funded special education. There's always a gap in the cross-subsidy, and I know the state of Minnesota is trying to help close that gap," Rep. Craig said in an interview before the State of the Union. "And I know my teachers, and my administrators and my communities, it's one of the top asks. So as a member of Congress, I wanted to say thank you to these critical teachers."
Rep. Tom Emmer: Blair Anderson and Hannah Molitor
Majority Whip Tom Emmer will be joined by two guests at Tuesday's State of the Union, retired Saint Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson and fourth-generation dairy farmer Hannah Molitor.
“Hannah and Blair have both dedicated their lives to service,” Rep. Emmer said in a statement. “They represent the best of the Sixth District.”
Blair spent 10 of his 27 years in law enforcement as the Chief of the Saint Cloud Police Department, where he developed the community outreach program Saint Cloud COP House. Molitor has been a member of the Stearns County Farm Bureau for more than eight years and helped develop the Farm Bureau Friends of the Farm, which helps elected officials get a firsthand look at the impact policies have on agriculture.
Rep. Betty McCollum: Tony Sanneh
Congresswoman Betty McCollum has invited Tony Sanneh, founder of the Sanneh Foundation, to this year's address. Sanneh established the foundation 20 years ago as a way to provide "positive environments for urban youth to become positive and productive adults," according to a press release.
Rep. McCollum helped secure $1 million in Community Project Funding in the 2023 federal funding bill for the Sanneh Foundation’s Youth Workforce Development Project in St. Paul. "This project is bridging the opportunity gap to create an equitable, vibrant future for our youth. From delivering joy on the soccer field to delivering popsicles during the pandemic, Tony Sanneh’s journey has always been rooted in making a difference for the children," the congresswoman said in a statement.
Rep. Ilhan Omar: Andre Locke, father of Amir Locke
On Feb. 2, 2022, Amir Locke was shot and killed by Minneapolis police while they executed a no-knock search warrant inside a downtown apartment building. A year after his son's death, Andre Locke will join Rep. Ilhan Omar at the State of the Union. On Tuesday. Rep. Omar said she will also introduce the Amir Locke End Deadly No-Knock Warrants Act.
Rep. Dean Phillips: Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt
Dean Phillips, who represents Minnesota's Third Congressional District, will be accompanied by Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt. Witt made history last year when she became the first woman and Black sheriff to be elected to lead the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff Witt, who was sworn in as the 29th Hennepin County Sheriff on Jan. 3, 2023, has worked with Rep. Phillips to promote criminal justice reform and public safety through the Pathways to Policing program.
Rep. Pete Stauber: Sharon McMahon
In a statement, Rep. Pete Stauber said "Sharon is a constituent of mine who does a fantastic job inspiring younger generations to learn about the importance of civics and how our government works. I knew she'd appreciate the experience and consider it a privilege just as much as I do, and I am thrilled to have her as my guest."
The State of the Union begins at 8 p.m. C.T. and will be streamed live on KARE11.com, the KARE 11 app and on KARE 11+ on Roku and Fire TV.
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