Dear Neighbors, I’m pleased to share that this week, Governor Walz announced that the Minnesota Department of Revenue has issued $67.3 million in COVID-19 Business Relief Payments to 3,891 eligible businesses in Minnesota. The relief payments were part of the bipartisan legislation the Legislature passed in December to help restaurants, bars, gyms, and bowling centers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation also delivers direct funding to all of Minnesota’s 87 counties to set up local grant relief programs. Businesses that did not receive a COVID-19 Business Relief Payment but think they meet the program criteria can contact the department. An online inquiry process will be available beginning Tuesday, January 19, and will remain open through Friday, February 5. An additional round of payments will be made after that date for business that qualify. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like assistance. Visiting with our Eastside Mom and Pop Eateries Thanks to the actions Minnesotans have taken over the past month, COVID-19 cases in our state are trending downward. As a result, several restrictions were relaxed earlier this week, including the reopening of indoor dining at 50 percent capacity. I had the opportunity to visit with some of our mom and pop eateries on the Eastside this week to hear about their concerns and additional needs to stay afloat. Our businesses are relying on healthy patrons and strong consumer confidence to get through and recover from these challenging times. It’s critical we protect each other, and the progress we’ve made in slowing the spread of the virus. Please continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and get tested if you’re feeling sick. You can find more information about Minnesota’s response to COVID-19 at staysafe.mn.gov. House DFL Announces First Priorities House DFL leaders and legislators announced our first priorities for the 2021 legislative session. We introduced legislation to protect the health, safety, and economic security of Minnesotans during the pandemic and ensure that they can thrive after it ends. Other priority bills would provide financial assistance to Minnesotans who are struggling, strengthen worker protections, improve safety within long-term care settings, deliver services for those without shelter, and support students.
Locally, I met with St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard to discuss goals for 2021 that can best help meet the education needs of our Eastside students who have been struggling and do not have the same resources as suburban and exurban communities in the state. Keeping our students safe is key and I support families’ decisions related to how education is delivered to their children in a way that allows safe learning to continue. Meeting with Local Advocates While working remotely can have its challenges, it also provides enhanced opportunities to connect with folks to learn about the good work they’re doing for our community and state. This week I met with community leaders belonging to the Coalition of Asian American Leaders. Like many other Minnesotans, the pandemic has impacted our Asian American Pacific Islander community hard. We know inequities have been exacerbated in this pandemic and I’m working with stakeholders and these leaders and others to tackle disparities facing the Eastside. I also connected with organizers from Better Futures Minnesota, a nonprofit organization aiming to help connect folks to good jobs, a safe home, health care and other services. I’m working on drafting future legislation with them; stay tuned on our progress. Once introduced, you can find the bills I’ve drafted here. Another opportunity I participated in was a meeting with the Minnesota Department of Corrections to discuss juvenile justice reform. In particular, I’m looking forward to a holistic approach with meaningful policies that provide alternatives that help keep youth out of trouble. Vaccine Distribution Update As COVID-19 continues to impact us, there is light is at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine now being distributed in phases, starting with health care workers and long-term care residents. This week, the state of Minnesota launched a new COVID-19 Data Dashboard to provide a more visual and user-friendly way to view key vaccination data for our state. The dashboard includes information on the number of vaccine doses allocated to the state by the federal government, the number shipped to Minnesota providers, and the number ultimately administered to Minnesotans. The data will be updated daily at 11:00 a.m.
Keep in Touch Please contact me anytime with feedback or questions at email@example.com or 651-296-4201. I’m grateful for the opportunity to provide any assistance if you need it. Stay safe and well this weekend, Eastsiders. In solidarity, Jay Xiong State Representative