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