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House DFL Announces New Economic Security Plan for 2022 Legislative Session

Thursday, January 20, 2022

St. Paul, MN - Today, House DFL leadership and members previewed legislative priorities to promote the economic security of Minnesotans ahead of the 2022 legislative session. While several factors point to the state’s economic recovery, House DFL members emphasized that many Minnesotans continue to struggle financially amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 


“Minnesotans are still hurting from COVID-19, and still facing an uncertain future. As we near the start of the 2022 Legislative Session, Democrats in the majority in the Minnesota House are focused on improving families’ economic security,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “The state’s projected $7.7 billion surplus allows us to make investments to help our families and address the challenges people are facing every day.”


DFL members reiterated their support for recognizing a broader list of frontline workers for bonus pay, delivering Paid Family & Medical Leave as well as Earned Sick & Safe Time for all Minnesotans, investing in broadband, assisting workers and small businesses, and affordable housing. 


“House DFLers are committed to an economic recovery that ensures all Minnesotans can safely and effectively provide for their families and thrive into the future,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, who served as chair of the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group. “We’ve asked a lot of our frontline heroes, and continue to do so as the Omicron variant impacts our state. It’s time for Republicans to step up and join us to complete the important work Minnesotans expect us to get done.”


The Frontline Worker Pay Working Group last met in October 2021, with Republicans refusing to compromise on a plan that would see a greater number of frontline workers receive bonus pay. The Minnesota Legislature voted last summer to allocate $250 million in federal COVID relief money on special bonuses to frontline workers. House DFLers are committed to supporting the Minnesotans who kept our state running and continue to do so during the pandemic. 


“Far too many Minnesotans are left without the necessary support to ensure they’re able to care for their loved ones or themselves without risking financial ruin,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL - Mendota Heights), House author of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act. “This was true before the COVID-19 pandemic, and has been compounded since. Whether it’s a long-term ailment or a brief sickness, working families deserve the economic security to get healthy without losing a paycheck.”


In 2021, the Minnesota House passed both the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as Earned Sick and Safe Time legislation, but faced inaction in the Republican-controlled Senate. The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to expose the inequities in Minnesotans’ ability to care for either themselves or a loved one without risking a paycheck, which is why these key pieces of legislation continue to be high priorities for the DFL House. 


“By denying Earned Sick and Safe Time to workers who have little to no economic security, the richest corporations and Minnesotans have gotten richer,” said Rep. Liz Olson (DFL - Duluth) House author of the Earned Sick and Safe Time Act. “Especially during a pandemic, all Minnesotans deserve the opportunity to stay home when they’re sick without risking their livelihoods. Minnesota has the resources to provide basic economic security for everyone, regardless of where you live or what you look like. Earned Sick and Safe Time is an essential component toward reaching that goal.”


Last session, the Minnesota Legislature reached a bipartisan agreement committing $70 million for broadband internet throughout Minnesota. With additional federal funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act dedicated to broadband, House DFLers are committed to ensuring all Minnesotans have access to reliable internet. 


“COVID-19 has deepened the digital divide and many people in rural communities still lack access to reliable high-speed broadband. In the year 2022, internet access isn’t a luxury anymore; it’s necessary for a quality way of life,” said Rob Ecklund (DFL - International Falls), who authored last session’s successful broadband funding legislation. “We need to double down on broadband to ensure all Minnesotans can get online to do their schoolwork, have access to commerce, or take advantage of telehealth services.”


The House Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL - Minneapolis), will tackle many of these priorities aimed at improving the economic security of Minnesotans, including addressing Minnesota’s unemployment insurance debt while ensuring working Minnesotans and small businesses aren’t being left behind. 


“As the state government provides pandemic assistance to businesses, we are also going to take care of the workers and families who have gotten us through this pandemic,” said Rep. Noor. “We will work across the aisle and with stakeholders to ensure our businesses and workers are supported, but providing a big tax cut for large corporations at the expense of helping working families will only hurt our economy.”


Lastly, members emphasized the need to recognize housing as a key factor in the economic prosperity of Minnesotans, especially as the state’s housing crisis has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 


“Our job this session is to listen to Minnesotans and to address the core economic stressors in their lives, including most families’ number one expense - the cost of their housing," said Rep. Michael Howard (DFL - Richfield), vice-chair of the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee. "Minnesota faced a housing crisis before the pandemic that has only worsened. We have a golden opportunity this session to invest in solutions that create more housing options, which will in turn create more economic opportunity for families, businesses, and our state's future." 


A fact sheet with more information about the proposal is available here. The 2022 legislative session will begin on Monday, January 31.

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