Neighbors and Friends,
As we settle in for another frigid weekend, I hope this update finds you safe and warm.
This week, House Capital Investment Committee held a hearing on Minnesota’s housing crisis and the role of Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIB) and general obligation (GO) bonds. The Housing Finance and Policy Committee, which I chair, and the Preventing Homelessness Division joined the committee to hear testimony from housing officials, experts, and advocates about the need for housing throughout the state. You can read my statement here.
Presentation slides and other supporting materials are available on the committee’s webpage. Video recording of the hearing is available on the House Public Information YouTube channel.
Our committee also heard this week from advocates about the need for affordable housing in Greater Minnesota. It’s clear from all the testimony we heard this week, that we have made some progress, but we still need a considerable investment in affordable housing to ensure all Minnesotans have a safe place to call home.
Black History Month
February is Black History Month and, while we have made progress in the fight for racial equity, we have work ahead. COVID-19 has exposed existing racial disparities in our state that we can only address through bold legislation. To learn more about legislative action on this important issue, read the House Select Committee on Racial Justice’s report. Please also read the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus’ statement on Black History Month.
COVID-19 Vaccine Update
The good news is COVID-19 case numbers and positivity rates are trending downward in Minnesota. The vaccination process is also improving. The federal government is gradually increasing the supply of doses, and the state is adapting the process to ensure that the vaccines we receive are distributed more effectively and equitably. More information is available on the state’s Vaccine Data Dashboard.
Health care workers and long-term care residents and staff will continue receiving the vaccine through their workplace, care facility, or local public health department. Educators, school staff, and childcare workers will receive information from their employers. Minnesotans who are 65 or older can use this tool to find nearby vaccine providers and make an appointment.
In the meantime, please continue wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home if you’re sick so we can close this chapter as quickly and safely as possible.
Winter is visiting Minnesota and there are no signs the deep-freeze is exiting anytime soon. Help is available with utility bills, to repair or replace homeowners’ malfunctioning furnaces, and to purchase fuel for delivery in emergencies with Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP). Homeowners and renters with young children, people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and those experiencing unemployment or financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic are especially encouraged to apply.
Last year, EAP helped nearly 118,000 Minnesota households. New applicants have until May 31, 2021 to apply, however funding is limited and administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, the state’s Cold Weather Rule is in effect until April 15 which prevents utility shut offs if you sign up for a payment plan with your energy provider. More information on these protections is available from the Public Utilities Commission.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
The Saint Paul Winter Carnival wrapped up on Sunday. Although the festivities were not typical this year, because of the pandemic, I hope you were able to enjoy some of the activities. I applaud the committee and all the volunteers for their creativity and for giving us another reason to celebrate winter!
The House has expanded the number of simultaneous committees it can?webcast live?from a maximum of two to five, so you can stay current on issues moving through committees this budget session.
Also, the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services offers nonpartisan recaps of high-profile bills, committee hearings, and floor sessions with their Session Daily publication. Subscribe to receive these here. To track bills of interest through the legislative process, I encourage you to utilize the MyBills feature on the Minnesota House of Representatives’ website.
I welcome your questions and comments anytime. You can call me at (651) 296-3824 or send an email at email@example.com.
Thank you for the privilege of representing you in the legislature.