Sunday, March 15, 2020
The COVID-19 situation (or coronavirus, as it's commonly referred to), is unfolding nearly as quickly as we can provide updates. But here's an update specifically focused on what we do know, what we're doing at the state level, and what Minnesotans can do to prevent the spread of this virus.
Public health officials in Minnesota are working around the clock to prepare for and stop the spread of COVID-19. At the Capitol, the House, Senate, Department of Health (MDH), and Governor’s Office are in near-constant communication to ensure we can quickly work to prevent further outbreak.
On March 10, Governor Tim Walz signed into law legislation that authorizes nearly $21 million for our public health response to COVID-19. I’m proud that the legislature moved quickly and collaboratively (the funding passed with unanimous support in both the House and Senate) to provide additional resources. But there is more we need to do.
I've drafted a bill that would prevent businesses from taking advantage of consumers during emergencies or disasters by raising prices for essential consumer goods or services by more than 10%.
This legislation aims to stop businesses from immoral price gouging of the most vulnerable Minnesotans. In times of crisis, Minnesotans still need basic supplies to survive. Yet many are finding that after carrying the burden of extra transportation, time, and effort just to find a store still stocked with rice or cold medicine, prices have doubled.
On March 11, my colleagues and I announced a package of legislation to further address COVID-19, including my price gouging bill. The bills would:
With the rise of concerns about COVID-19, there has been a troubling increase in incidents of xenophobia and racism. These acts of exclusion, harassment, and hate speech do nothing to prevent viruses and other illnesses from spreading. In fact, these actions only impair our ability to work together as a community at a crucial time. Infectious diseases can only be fought with solidarity and cooperation.
I encourage anyone with questions or concerns to reach out to my office – we can work together to ensure Minnesota is prepared to navigate this public health crisis. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4201.
MDH has set up a COVID19 webpage in several languages. Please share these links with anyone who would like information in additional languages:
No Human is IllegalNo one should ever be referred to or as an "illegal alien." This week, I introduced legislation to protect dignity for undocumented Minnesotans. It would replace the term in existing statutes to "undocumented immigrant." How we use our words not only defines our world, but it sets a standard in our political discourse. The term's use denigrates mostly black and brown people who work hard every day and whose demographics tend to be poorer, more marginalized and least able to fight back. We must end the use of this term today.
Community HighlightsThank you to the many constituents who visited my office last week! Your activism and presence at the Capitol is a powerful agent for change.
During ACLU Day At the Capitol I met with constituents to discuss reforms addressing Minnesota’s fines and fees for traffic, parking, and minor criminal violations.
Fees and surcharges can often bring the cost of a basic traffic ticket north of $100, presenting a hardship for many families. An unpaid ticket can lead to late fees and collection charges, eventually snowballing into driver’s license suspensions. I'm proud to support legislation to ensure these minor violations don't end in a driver's license suspension.
I met with students this week to discuss State Grants for Higher Education. We increased these grants in our 2019 higher education budget, but we have a long way to go to ensure higher education is affordable and accessible for all.
More than 1 in 4 households in Minnesota are housing cost-burdened. During Homes for All day at the Capitol, we discussed the challenges we face as a society in ensuring everyone can attain safe, stable housing. I'm proud to support several bills to expand protections for renters and provide $500 million in bonding funding for homes.
Tuesday was Disability Services Day at the Capitol, and I was glad I was able to meet with several constituents!
Have a great rest of your weekend, and remember to be mindful of your health and the health of those around you.
Rep. Jay Xiong
Friday, March 06, 2020
Happy daylight saving time! Yes, that's probably why you woke up feeling like you missed an hour of sleep. Some of my colleagues in the House are working on legislation to make daylight saving time year-round. What do you think? Send me a note - email@example.com.
Paid Family LeaveAll Minnesotans should have time to care for themselves or loved ones. That's why on Thursday we voted to pass Paid Family Leave for all Minnesotans. Right now, far too many Minnesotans have to choose between work and taking care of a new baby, a loved one, or themselves while finding it harder and harder to get ahead. I'm committed to providing greater economic security for Minnesotans who need to take time from work and can’t go without a paycheck. While people at the top continue to do well, Minnesota’s working families continue to feel squeezed and forced to make impossible decisions - that's why I was proud to vote in favor of this bill.
CROWN ActCurrently, discrimination on the basis of hairstyle is legal in Minnesota. I am proud to co-sponsor the C.R.O.W.N. Act to explicitly add to the Minnesota Human Rights Act a prohibition against discrimination on the basis of hair appearance and texture. Throughout history, the control over body and hair has always had both a class and racial bias. We have contributed to these outlandish and outdated forms of social control. Ethnic hair of all cultures is beautiful and unique. We must stop discrimination of hair styles now if we are to call ourselves a world leader where freedom of expression is valued. You can read more about the bill from the Star Tribune here, or WCCO here.
I got the chance this week to meet with Metro State professors to discuss ways we can support students and the college.
If you're ever at the Capitol, make sure to stop by my office! I was glad to meet with several constituents during the Humane Society's day at the Capitol.
Have a great rest of your weekend,
Rep. Jay Xiong
Sunday, March 01, 2020
This was an especially impactful week at the Capitol. We passed bills that will make Minnesota a safer, better place to live.
Lowering Prescription Drug PricesMinnesotans shouldn’t lose their lives because they can’t afford the lifesaving medications they need. Over the last ten years insulin manufacturers have tripled the price of insulin, raking in billions of dollars in profits and forcing thousands of Minnesotans to ration a drug that's life-necessary for them. Big Pharma needs to have a financial stake in solving this affordability crisis.
Wednesday night, the House passed our bill that ensures Minnesotans can get the insulin they need at a price they can afford. I was proud to cast my vote for the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act and will continue working toward making affordable health care a reality and tackling prescription drug costs.
Common Sense Gun Violence PreventionOn Thursday night, we voted on two gun violence prevention measures: a Red Flag bill and universal background checks. It’s time we do something about America’s epidemic of senseless gun violence and mass shootings. Both of these laws are working well in other states and are supported by law enforcement, health professionals, and the vast majority of Minnesotans.
Minnesotans have been loud and clear that they want us to take action to address senseless gun violence. Senate Republicans should listen to Minnesotans and join the DFL-led House in supporting common-sense gun violence prevention measures.
Opportunities for Our Kids The Boys and Girls Club provides valuable youth development services across all ages. They have comprehensive programming around job exploration, skill building, and career development that both sets our kids on a path to success and creates a talent pipeline for our local businesses.
Ke'la, the 2020 Twin Cities Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities Youth of the Year, shared her story at the Capitol this week about how much this organization impacted her life. She was just accepted to the University of Minnesota! I look forward to ensuring we prioritize the funding that I've proposed for this life-changing organization.
Fair WagesThis week, Rep. Cantrell discussed his legislation to address unfair wages with Eastsider Noah John Stanford McCourt in the Labor Committee. I proudly co-sponsored and voted to pass this legislation that sets up a taskforce to repeal a law allowing employers to pay their employees with a disability less than the minimum wage. We must stop treating people with disability as second class citizens. They deserve the dignity of a living wage.
We Are Still Here ConferenceOn March 11, the We Are Still Here Conference, organized and hosted by members of the 16 Native-led organizations, will convene the region’s urban American Indian community based organizations, funders, allies, and supporters to move the needle for our urban American Indian community. All are welcome to join the event, and you can learn more and register here.
Have a great rest of your weekend!
Rep. Jay Xiong
Sunday, February 23, 2020
I hope that after reading this you're planning to get out an enjoy the nice(er) weather!
The Climate Action Caucus that I'm a member of is doing its part to ensure we protect the outdoors so generations that come after us can have clean air and water and enjoy our state's natural beauty. This week we announced one-time investments that will enable every Minnesotan to participate directly in addressing the climate crisis. The plan addresses energy efficiency, solar energy, transportation, local government projects, and environment projects. Public schools, homeowners, local governments, and nursing homes will all benefit, and our environment will benefit.
Every little thing we do counts. Local jurisdictions like St. Louis Park have seen success lowering plastic straw use by having businesses provide them only upon request - I'm a proud co-author on a bill that would bring that measure statewide. My hope is that Minnesotans will begin thinking about how their actions and consumption will permanently impact our environment.
Consumer ProtectionI am proud to chief author a consumer protection bill that will defend against debt collectors who exploit the fear of people who are most vulnerable. This bill will create protections against debt collection that targets hard working Minnesotans, the elderly, limited English proficiency populations and newer Americans who are not used to our systems and don't fully know their rights. The bill would protect against unjust and aggressive shakedowns of those who have the least and need help the most by requiring debt collectors to more fairly communicate with people so they know their rights and are prepared to communicate directly on settling their financial matters.
This week, I also worked on legislation with my colleagues to:
If you watch for the Census in the mail and fill it out and return it when you receive it, then you do not need to answer the door to a stranger. By law, information they collect cannot be shared with anyone, including landlords, social workers, law enforcement, or employers.
The U.S. Census Bureau still needs to fill temporary positions to conduct the census. These jobs provide flexible hours and competitive wages; in Ramsey and Washington County, census takers can earn $22 per hour. More information about working for the Census is available here.
Have a great second half to your weekend and if you have any comments or questions don't hesitate to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4201.
Rep. Jay Xiong
Sunday, February 16, 2020
The 2020 legislative session started, so I wanted to give a brief update on the issues I've been focused on for our community, including environmental sustainability, jobs, education, immigration, and election access. I will also continue our work to pass some bills you may remember from last year: common sense gun violence prevention, emergency access to insulin, and Logan's Law to allow same-sex couples to become the rightful parents of their child.
Environmental JusticeThe Minnesota Department of Health recently released a new map of lead exposure in Minnesota, showing neighborhoods throughout the state that have a higher risk of lead exposure, and the East Side is one area that has elevated lead levels. This is unacceptable, and it's indicative of our need to elevate and prioritize the health of communities that have been disproportionately impacted by corporate pollution and climate change.
I also introduced legislation this week to address PFAS - industrial chemicals that can have long-term health consequences. This has been a concern for our community since foam containing PFAS was found in Battle Creek. And I know many of you who worked hard on this issue. If passed, my legislation would provide funding to test the deer population, and develop protocols for alerting the public when PFAS are detected. We need to start holding polluters of our environment accountable.
InfrastructureThe 10,000 commuters who cross the Kellogg Bridge every day rely on it to live their lives. It connects the Eastside with the rest of the St. Paul community. Our state received a “C” grade on our last Infrastructure Report Card, and this bridge is the perfect example of investments our state needs to make in our roads, bridges, and sidewalks to keep our communities safe. As I did last year, I’m going to continue to fight for strong infrastructure funding, including in the Kellogg Bridge.
Youth JobsI am also introducing legislation that would provide workforce development funding for the St. Paul Boys and Girls Club to replace funding that was cut during the 2019 legislative session. We need to ensure our youth are ready for the real world and have the skills to thrive especially in our city where many do not have access to resources and opportunities. These small steps make all the difference.
Addressing Education Disparities During the interim, I have been visiting schools in our district to hear from teachers, students, parents and administrators about the education challenges and opportunities we face, and I look forward to tackling the issues this session. We must to continue to address disparities in education for our children. Last Monday, my colleagues Rep. Rena Moran and Rep. Ruth Richardson held a community listening session on addressing educational disparities. This Monday, our DFL caucus introduced legislation to fund pre-K. But more work needs to be done. I look forward to hearing from many of you this session on addressing educational outcomes for our students.
Immigration Rights No one is illegal. This week, I introduced legislation, similar to ordinance in NYC, that would protect our undocumented brothers and sisters from discriminating practices. We cannot tolerate language of hate, and we must not allow those in power to use the power of language to denigrate and dehumanize a community. As a policymaker, it is my duty to defend the dignity of all people who live in our state.
Immigration is what gives us strength and that is what has brought our great values together to make us the America we know today. And I will not stand by and let people further humiliate people who are undocumented. They deserve to be here just as you and I do, just as your ancestors and my ancestors made the trek here. The reasons for immigration have always been the same: fleeing war, economic turmoil, famine, religious persecution, cultural and ethnic genocide, political persecution, gang warfare and internal political violence and strife.
We need to accept that when we facilitate trade and war, we also facilitate the movement of peoples. No One is Illegal. Everyone is here to make their best life and improve their chances for attaining the American dream. We are strong because we are a melting pot of ideals, culture and people.
ElectionsI am also continuing to work on several bills that will increase language access for voters to:
We want to hear from you!Take our quick survey and share your feedback about Saint Paul’s snow emergency communications. Survey will be open until Monday, February 17 here.
As always, let me know if you have comments or questions about the upcoming session, or if there's something you want me to work on! Reach me at email@example.com or 651-296-4201.
Rep. Jay Xiong
Friday, February 07, 2020MAP Caucus Response to Trump Threat to Deport Refugees
St. Paul, Minn. – Minnesota's Asian Pacific Caucus released the following statement in response to the Trump Administration negotiating with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on an agreement to allow the deportation of long-time Hmong and Lao residents of the U.S. back to their country of birth. Over 4,500 Lao and Hmong Americans have an order of removal.
“Our caucus includes immigrants and refugees – we consider any deportation of Southeast Asians to be a personal betrayal of our values and our duty as Americans. The Trump Administration has opened the door to breaking apart our communities by threatening to send refugees back to a place they have never called home. We welcome any Minnesotan who has concerns and questions to reach out to our offices – we stand with you and we are here to help stop these immoral deportations.”
The Southeast Asian community has been in Minnesota for more than 40 years. Many have built their livelihoods here and call Minnesota their home. Many have been raised in Minnesota and never spoke the language Lao. Southeast Asian Americans are the largest refugee population ever resettled in the United States. Many are in the United States because they allied with the US during the Vietnam War or because of US involvement in Laos and Cambodia.
“We are aware that there are a lot of fears and a lot of questions to be answered,” added MAP Caucus Chair Samantha Vang. “Our office is working rigorously with our congressional offices and looking at ways we can legislatively support our communities from being forcibly deported.”
The MAP Caucus members can be reached at:
MAP Caucus Chair Samantha Vang (DFL - Brooklyn Park)
Rep.firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-3709
MAP Caucus Vice Chair Kaohly Her (DFL- St. Paul)
Rep.email@example.com or 651-296-8799
Assistant Majority Leader Fue Lee (DFL - Minneapolis)
Rep.firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4262
Rep. Tou Xiong (DFL - Maplewood)
Rep.email@example.com or 651-296-7807
Rep. Jay Xiong (DFL- St. Paul)
Rep.firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4201
Sen. Foung Hawj (DFL - St. Paul)
email@example.com or 651-296-5285
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
You've probably seen some environmental issues in our district pop up in the news lately. In 2019, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) confirmed elevated levels of long-lasting industrial chemicals that have harmful health effects, called PFAS, in foam at two creeks in Washington and Ramsey Counties. I've been working closely with the MPCA and the Department of Health, which are working to ensure continued safe drinking water.
Battle Creek is one of the impacted areas
Beginning in the 1950s, 3M produced PFAS compounds in the eastern Twin Cities for decades. Waste containing PFAS chemicals was legally disposed of in landfills in the eastern metro area, where the chemicals seeped into the groundwater, and contaminated the drinking water supplies of several communities.
As part of a $850 million settlement with 3M, the MPCA is investigating how a large project completed in the late 1980s is contributing to PFAS. So far, PFAS have been found in Raleigh Creek in Washington County and Battle Creek in Ramsey County.
Low concentrations were found in Battle Creek surface water, and extremely low concentrations were found in Battle Creek Lake - it is the foam that is more dangerous because it contains a higher concentration of PFAS.
State officials are warning people to avoid the contaminated foam, to wash thoroughly if they come in contact with it and to keep their pets away from water where they see it.
You can read more from the Star Tribune here and MPR here.
Though not all foam contains PFAS, foam in the impacted areas is more likely than surface water to contain the harmful chemicals.
The next steps are to:
I am working with Senator Foung Hawj and Representatives Tou Xiong and Steve Sandell to host a community town hall on the issue and am advocating for the MPCA and Department of Health to send notifications to people living around Battle Creek so that our community can have the most up-to-date information available.
Rep. Jay Xiong
Saturday, January 04, 2020
The vandalism which occurred the week of weekend of December 21 at the Darul Iman Mosque is an unacceptable hate crime. It was clearly motivated by bias and the individual or individuals responsible should be held accountable.
The East Side of St. Paul has always been a welcoming home for immigrants and continues to be a home to our newest American neighbors, which happen to include many Muslim people from around the world. We draw strength from our diversity and I condemn this act of hate and violence. I have spoken to the faith leaders at the mosque as well as the St. Paul Police, and I want the whole community to know that we stand against hatred, and will work hard to bring the perpetrators to justice.
I also want to thank my legislative colleagues Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, Rep. Mike Freiberg, and Assistant Majority Leader Jamie Long for joining me Friday afternoon to show solidarity.
If you are able, I hope you will considering making a donation to a GoFundMe for the Darul Iman Mosque to help repair the damage.
Rep. Jay Xiong
Saturday, December 28, 2019
You still have a couple days to make your New Years' resolutions! I hope you're staying safe and warm during the holidays. This marks the end of the first year I've had the honor of being your State Legislator - I sincerely thank you for your input, your advocacy, and your engagement. Here's a quick review of the past year and some goals for Minnesota to meet in 2020.
Over the past year I fought to protect Minnesotans’ health care access, legalize adult-use cannabis, make historic investments in affordable housing, fund our schools and infrastructure, and to make our state more equitable and fair. Everyone deserves a fair shake and a level playing field.
While Senate Republicans blocked progress on common-sense gun legislation, climate change, paid family leave, earned sick & leave time, and emergency insulin, that work will be at the forefront of what we hope to accomplish when the legislative session begins in February. Below are highlights and goals for education, healthcare, infrastructure investments and the environment.
EducationAll students deserve the tools and education necessary to succeed in and outside the classroom. This year we stood up for our students and fought successfully for sustainable investments in our schools.
We delivered an additional $27 million for St. Paul Public Schools, and funding to increase the number of teachers of color from K-12 through higher education. But this work is just the beginning of our fight to reform and improve education for all children in Minnesota. Continuing this effort will be a priority for me when the 2020 session begins.
The House DFL attempted to make about 500 undocumented Minnesota resident students whole by filling in their unawarded federal Pell Grants (for which they are ineligible) with a State Grant stipend. The Senate GOP refused to negotiate on this provision, which would have cost the state just over $3 million every two years. Minnesota has been attempting to fix this funding gap for undocumented Minnesotans who are graduates of Minnesota high schools since the passage of the Minnesota Dream Act in 2013.
HealthcareI worked hard to ensure all Minnesotans can afford their health insurance, prescription drugs, and the care they need when they need it. I supported legislation to get tough on middlemen who drive up the cost of medications, and we enacted sweeping oversight to improve drug pricing transparency. I will continue to fight for affordable, accessible health care. That includes passing the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act as soon as possible.
It’s a huge artery that connects the large parts of the east metro to Downtown. Our state received a “C” grade on our last Infrastructure Report Card, and this bridge is the perfect example of investments our state needs to make in our roads, bridges, and sidewalks to keep our communities safe. As I did last year, I’m going to continue to fight for strong infrastructure funding.
EnvironmentClimate change is one of the top issues that I hear about in our community. Last year, I delivered $4.3 million to help with the Pig's Eye Lake Islands Habitat restoration. There is a huge challenge of managing waste from the Emerald Ash devastation.
We also fought hard for 100% Clean Energy by 2050 and Clean Energy First to cut greenhouse gases now to help protect future generations from the growing threat of climate change. We worked on bills to expand Minnesota’s solar energy capacity; provide rebates for electric vehicles and charging stations to increase the number of electric vehicles on our roads and decrease the our dependence on fossil fuels; transition towards electric energy that can be generated with fewer greenhouse gases than other forms of energy; and update Minnesota’s energy policy to address the current threat of climate change.
I look forward to continuing to work together with our community to fight for the progressive values that make our state a better place to live.
Happy New Year to you and your family, and best of luck sticking to those resolutions!
Rep. Jay Xiong
Saturday, December 07, 2019
I want to invite you to join me and Environment & Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Rick Hansen for a Southeast Asian community conversation on understanding Chronic Waste Disease in deer with Dr. Peter Larsen from the University of Minnesota. We will also be joined by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Conservation Officers to discuss DNR actions.
Here's a quick update from the Capitol:
Minnesota's Budget ForecastOn Thursday we received our biannual economic forecast for the state. Minnesota is in a strong financial position, but the forecast highlights significant challenges we may face in the future, which could undermine our ability to provide good schools, good roads, and good health care for Minnesotans. We need to continue to invest in our people and our state so that we are setting up the next generation for a prosperous future. You can read more about the budget from MPR here.
Hemp Conference in St. CloudEarlier this week, the Minnesota Hemp Association hosted a statewide conference and expo for Minnesotans to learn more about hemp and its potential uses. It was eye-opening to meet the growers and entrepreneurs driving this new industry.
This year, the Minnesota House DFL delivered $100,000 per year to expand domestic and international marketing opportunities for farmers, including staffing to facilitate sales and new markets for Minnesota-grown industrial hemp. We also legalized possession of industrial hemp that is lawfully grown in another state and meets Minnesota and federal requirements.
Climate Action Caucus: Climate and Public HealthThe new House DFL Minnesota Climate Action Caucus is committed to a progressive, comprehensive policy agenda. Since we formed the caucus, we have discussed the intersections of climate with housing, public health, and transportation.
On Wednesday, we hosted a conversation dedicated to public health. We listened to several sobering presentations about the health effects of climate change. Doctors, nurses, and public health experts across Minnesota are seeing intensified problems with asthma and allergies and higher rates of heat-related and tick-borne illnesses. These health threats disproportionately impact low-income people and communities of color.
Visit our new website to learn more about the Climate Action Caucus! Here are details for our next meeting:
Environment and Climate Conversation
Rep. Jay Xion