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