Committees wrapped up work before our customary recess, which began Friday, to observe the Easter and Passover holidays. If you celebrate, I wish you a safe celebration with loved ones.
Effective this week, Minnesotans 16 and older are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. The final eligibility expansion comes as the federal government has promised an increased supply of vaccine by April. By expanding eligibility to all Minnesotans, providers across the state will have the flexibility they need to fill appointments and get many Minnesotans vaccinated as quickly as possible to end this pandemic.
The governor has also made a commitment to making sure every single community in Minnesota has fair access to these vaccines. With more doses arriving in Minnesota, the state is ramping up strategies to get more vaccines to Minnesota’s BIPOC communities and preparing to launch new, creative methods for delivering vaccine to communities who need them, including mobile vaccination units that will hit the road in the coming weeks. I’m grateful to see this is a priority as the vaccination rollout continues.
All Minnesotans who have not received a vaccine should sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector to get updates on vaccine opportunities and be entered into the random selection process for the state’s Community Vaccination Program sites. Minnesotans can also contact their healthcare provider, local pharmacy or use the Vaccine Locator Map to search for vaccine providers in their area.
While all Minnesotans are eligible, not every Minnesotan will be immediately able to make an appointment. Vaccine shipments from the federal government will continue increasing over the coming weeks, but for now demand will still exceed supply.
Chauvin Trial Begins
As I’m sure you’re already aware, the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin got underway Monday with opening statements and remarks. This is understandably a trying time for our South Minneapolis neighbors with much relived trauma at the forefront of our community. Already coined the “trial of the century”, we know the eyes of the world are on us. Here you can find current road closures.
With the start of the trial the City has said we may see a greater law enforcement presence along major throughfares. I am also available to help navigate questions you may have.
I urge you to be aware of your own and others well-being during this time. It will be easy to become overwhelmed with the news coverage and social media commentary. People may be stressed and on edge. Videos of George Floyd's death and witness testimony can be upsetting. Watch what you feel you need but remember that you don’t need to watch all of it if it becomes overwhelming. Pace yourself as you need.
Here’s a look at some of the high-profile bills we passed last week to protect economic security for Minnesotans amid the ongoing pandemic.
Summer Learning Package Advances
Students, parents, teachers, and families have been hit hard by the pandemic, academically and emotionally. The robust summer learning package we passed last week would help address learning loss through hands-on tutoring and programming, ensure our students have an opportunity to get caught up, and provide critical mental health support to those, including teachers, who need it. As the author of this bill I look forward to the Senate joining us in getting the help our students need and deserve.
Securing Worker’s Compensation for First Responders
Last year, we passed a bill to ensure Minnesotans on the frontline of this pandemic would receive workers’ compensation if they contracted COVID-19 or were exposed to it on the job. That provision is set to expire on May 1, but first responders are still in a vulnerable position- especially with new variants of the virus appearing across the west metro. Last week, we passed a bill that would extend that deadline. Nurses, doctors, paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, police officers, correctional officers, and child care workers are covered under this proposal.
Preventing Wage Discrimination
March 24 was Equal Pay Day, an annual reminder that American women continue to be paid less than men. For every dollar that a White man is paid, Asian women make 85¢, White women make 82¢, Black women make 61¢, Indigenous women make 58¢, and Latina women make 53¢. One of the reasons that this gap exists is that employers can ask job applicants about their pay history and use it to make compensation decisions, which perpetuates the cycle of discrimination. I’m proud to share the House passed the Preventing Discrimination Act, a bill that halts this practice and brings us one step closer to closing the pay gap.
Helping Hospitality and Service Sector Workers Return to their Jobs
Many of our South Minneapolis residents employed at hotels, airports, event centers, and related businesses were laid off last year. Since many Minnesotans are still avoiding travel and large events due to COVID-19, many of these workers haven’t been able to return to their jobs. That’s why we’ve championed legislation to help hospitality and service sector workers return to the jobs they had before the pandemic. The bill passed off the House Floor last week with my enthusiastic support.
Expanding Access to Earned Sick and Safe Time
The pandemic has demonstrated that we all benefit when workers can stay home without missing a paycheck. One of the bills we approved last week would ensure Minnesota families aren’t forced to choose between a paycheck and taking care of themselves or a loved one. Under this legislation, workers would earn at least one hour of paid Earned Sick and Safe Time for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. Workers could use this time to stay home when they’re sick or to take care of a family member.
Keep in Touch
Please continue to contact me anytime at email@example.com or 651-296-0173. I appreciate your input and questions!
It’s an honor to represent our South Minneapolis residents and families in the Minnesota Legislature.