Saturday, February 06, 2021
I hope this finds you well- and staying warm!
With the temperature dropping below zero this weekend, I wanted to bring up Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program, which helped nearly 118,000 Minnesota households pay their heating bills last year. Households with young children, people with disabilities, veterans, seniors and those experiencing unemployment or financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are especially encouraged to apply. Both renters and homeowners can qualify to get energy assistance.
New applicants have until May 31, 2021 to apply, however funding is limited and administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Households can apply for assistance with the local service provider in their area. Call 800-657-3710, and press 1, or visit the Commerce Department’s Energy Assistance Program webpage.
Here are flyers in English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong:
MN Energy Assistance Flyer - English
MN Energy Assistance Flyer - Spanish
MN Energy Assistance Flyer - Somali
MN Energy Assistance Flyer - Hmong
This week, I met with a group of physicians who expressed their concerns around what they’ve been seeing with the ongoing pandemic. They shared with me general concerns for their patients who are lacking access to various, vital resources: basic insurance coverage; technology and internet; adequate transportation; and translation services. With this in mind, they expressed urgency in a more equitable approach with the COVID-19 vaccine administration. I have also heard similar concerns from many Eastsiders about lack of access to the vaccine.
My DFL POCI Caucus members have requested a meeting with Minnesota Commissioner of Health to see how we can work together and get those efforts underway for everyone in our communities.
Here’s an update from the Capitol:
Earned Sick and Safe Time for Minnesota Workers IntroducedAs we’ve learned from COVID-19, when people get sick, they should be able to stay home not just for their own health or that of a loved one, but for the health of everyone around them. This week in the House Labor Committee, a bill was presented to ensure Minnesota workers have access to Earned Sick and Safe Time. The legislation would ensure, at a minimum, one hour of paid Earned Sick and Safe Time for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours per year.
Minnesotans care about another, and we want to live in a state where our families can be healthy and safe. By securing the ability to stay home when you’re sick – without foregoing your paycheck – we can get through this pandemic as a stronger, healthier state.
Measure to Exclude White Supremacists from Police Ranks Advances in HouseThis week, the House Public Safety & Criminal Justice Reform Finance & Policy Committee advanced legislation that would require the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board to revise the standards of conduct for peace officers prohibit officers from affiliating with,? supporting, or advocating for white supremacist groups, causes, or ideologies.? This is a necessary step forward to prevent “bad apples” from serving alongside officers who are protecting everyone in our communities, including our BIPOC neighbors on the Eastside.
Legislation AuthoredI’m thrilled to author legislation that was introduced this week to help Eastsiders and Minnesotans during these economically challenging times:
HF 656: Dedicates state investments to Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio-Latino Communities United in Service (CLUES). CLUES is Minnesota’s largest Latino-led nonprofit organization, dedicated to ensuring the advancement of social and economic equity and wellbeing for Latinos in Minnesota. CLUES has offices on the East Side of St. Paul, Lake Street in Minneapolis, and also Willmar and Austin in rural Minnesota.
HF 655: Dedicates grant funding to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Minnesota, the organization committed to creating and supporting mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.
Tax Write-offs for Minnesota TeachersThe IRS recently announced that teachers who purchased COVID-19 protective equipment last year can write them off on their 2020 taxes.
COVID-19 protective items include, but are not limited to:
Keep in TouchPlease continue to reach out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4201. Your feedback is important and helps me elevate our Eastside voices at the Capitol.
Have a safe weekend.
February is Black History Month
Monday, February 01, 2021
The beginning of February marks an important time for all of us to reflect on Black History Month. Here's the statement my DFL POCI Caucus members and I released today:
“It is important that we take this month to not only remember and celebrate the rich and meaningful history of Black people in our nation, but to take time to consider the future of Black lives. Black history is being written as we speak, from the incredible organization of Black voters in the 2020 election which resulted in the first female Vice President of color, to the ongoing cries for reform from the historic Black Lives Matter movement. There remains a harrowing distance between the level of Black excellence in this nation, and level of systemic racism that perpetuates cycles of discrimination and increased disparities. Let this be the Black History Month where we choose to elevate Black voices and value Black lives forever more. Let this month, and every month after, be the months where we fight to create a future where Black lives can be lived fully without the burden of oppression, racism, and inequity.”
Today, House Majority Leader Winkler and DFL lawmakers introduced adult-use cannabis legislation that will address criminal justice inequities created by our current system and allow law enforcement to focus on more serious issues.
The adult-use cannabis bill would create a responsible regulatory structure focused on developing micro-businesses and a craft market; expunge most cannabis convictions; fund public health awareness, youth access prevention, and substance abuse treatment; provide grants, loans, technical assistance, and training for small businesses; require testing and labeling of products; restrict packaging based on dosage size; and allow limited home grow abilities.
I’ve been a longtime advocate and fierce supporter of legalizing adult-use cannabis legalization, which is why I’m proud to co-sponsor the measure. You can read more about the bill here.
Ramsey County Small Business Relief Fund now accepting applicationsRamsey County Small Business Relief Fund is accepting applications from self-employed entrepreneurs or local businesses with 75 or fewer employees. Grants will provide emergency assistance to those adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applications will be open until this Friday, Feb. 5. More information is available here.
Select Committee on Racial Justice releases final reportThe Minnesota House established the Select Committee on Racial Justice last year after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. On January 25, committee co-chairs Rena Moran and Ruth Richardson presented a final report to the Ways and Means committee with recommendations for addressing systemic racism. More specifically, the report calls on the Legislature to act to dismantle racism through a series of policy recommendations in areas such as economic development, housing, education, public safety, health and human services, and environmental justice.
I’m glad to see efforts are underway in the Minnesota House to close equity gaps. Click here to read the full report.
Governor Walz announces COVID-19 Recovery BudgetOn January 26, Governor Tim Walz unveiled a new two-year budget proposal that aims to help students, families, and small businesses recover from the pandemic. Speaker Hortman and Majority Leader Winkler issued statements of support. My DFL colleagues and I are committed to passing a budget that meets Minnesotans’ needs and builds back better from the pandemic.
Much of the Governor’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget align with our goals in the House DFL.
Our first priorities for 2021 are to respond to the needs of Minnesotans hurt most by the pandemic. Last week, my colleagues unveiled our latest proposals to help Minnesotans who are risking the most to keep all of us healthy and safe. Rep. Frazier announced his bill to provide 100 hours of paid emergency leave for essential workers; Rep. Wolgamott rolled out his bill to protect the health and safety of Minnesotans who work in meat and poultry processing plants; and Rep. Schultz introduced her bill to create the MinnesotaCare public option.
These are all important lifelines for working Minnesotans, and I will continue to support them as they move through the committee process.
Keep in TouchThank you, always, for contacting me to share your input and questions. Please continue emailing and calling anytime at email@example.com or 651-296-4201 to let me know how I can help.
It’s an honor to serve our Eastside residents and families in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Have a great week.
This was an exciting and hopeful week for our country as we celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. This new administration has significant challenges to face, but it’s already refreshing to see that they’re approaching these issues in a way that’s grounded in truth, transparency, compassion, and inclusiveness. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration and helping to build back better for our state and community.
Here's an update from the State Capitol:
Democracy for the People Act Announced in the House
On Thursday, my House colleagues introduced a legislative package called the Democracy for the People Act, which aims to build a strong, inclusive democracy that works for Minnesotans of every race, region, political party, and generation. Highlights of the package include: ensuring state and local elections officials can access the critical federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds they need for election security and infrastructure; establishing automatic voter registration (with an opt out option); providing ballots in multiple languages; and closing dark money loopholes. You can read more about the Democracy for the People Act here.
Efforts to Dismantle Systemic Racism
In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I had the opportunity to join Hmong leaders early this week to speak with Rebecca Lucero, who is the Commissioner of Human Rights for the State of Minnesota about today's race challenges and how the state can address discrimination. You can view our conversation here.
More specifically on the legislative level, I believe we can work toward positive change in addressing systemic racism by closing opportunity gaps in our schools. One way we can do this is by having more Black, Indigenous, and teachers of color in our classrooms, so our educators are more reflective and representative of our student populations, especially on the Eastside. This is why I’ve co-sponsored legislation that would make critical investments dedicated to the training and hiring of BIPOC teachers.
The Boys and Girls Club is also an excellent resource for our St. Paul neighborhoods. I’ll be chief-authoring legislation to allocate funding that allows them to continue their mission providing excellent programming for our youth.
This week, in the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Finance and Reform Committee, we examined how the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board has begun to implement some measures within the police reform legislation the Legislature passed in the July 2020 special session. You can read more about what we learned from this Session Daily story, a nonpartisan publication from our House Office of Public Information.
Next week, in the Capital Investment Committee, we’ll be focusing on the economic impacts of racism in our communities, how capital investment projects have historically contributed to that, and how we can also use these projects to address this issue.
Investing in local projects that focus on equity was something the committee was able to do last year and I’m excited to build upon that work.
Meeting with Advocacy Groups
It was great to meet with the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance this week, which is the largest coalition of hunting, fishing, trapping, and conservation organizations in the state. These outdoor activities have a rich history in Minnesota, and I’m glad to support their work. You can learn more about the MOHA here.
I also met with Minnesota-AFL-CIO, the Minnesota Nurses Association, and Minnesota Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to discuss the importance of worker access to emergency paid sick leave. This is a priority bill that’s been included in the House DFL’s COVID-19 support legislative package that we rolled out last week. I’m hopeful it will move quickly through the committee process.
Keystone XL Pipeline Halted
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden cancelled the cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, effectively halting its development. This is great news for our nation's environment, Indigenous rights, and landowners located along the pipeline’s route, which is why I was proud to sign on to a letter of support to the administration. You can read our letter here.
Keep in Touch
I appreciate hearing from you! Please never hesitate to reach out with what’s on your mind or how I can help. You can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 651-296-4201.
It’s an honor to serve our Eastside residents and families!
Enjoy the snow this weekend.
Saturday, January 16, 2021