I hope this email finds you well as spring is finally here. We’ve made good progress in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, but we need to make sure the pendulum doesn’t swing back the other direction. This week, Minnesota again surpassed a five percent positivity rate for COVID tests. While restrictions on businesses and gatherings have been relaxed, let’s all continue to be cautious by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask around others, and getting a test if you feel you need one.
Economic Security for Minnesota Workers
The pandemic hasn’t affected all Minnesotans equally, and while the very wealthiest Minnesotans and corporations have continued to do well, our essential workers and those on the front lines have experienced the greatest hardship. Last week on the House Floor, we passed several bills to help deliver the health, safety, and economic security these heroes are counting on.
Earned Sick and Safe Time will ensure no Minnesota worker must choose between a paycheck and staying home when they’re sick or to take care of a sick child. The Preventing Pay Discrimination Act will prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s pay history, a tool widely used to hold down wages. We passed a bill with rehire and retention protections for certain hospitality and service workers who were laid off during the pandemic. For the health care and public safety workers that continue to work in some of the most exposed positions - we passed legislation extending their access to workers’ comp in the event they contract COVID-19.
House DFL Budget
This year, lawmakers must craft a new two-year state budget. I’m hopeful we can use this as an opportunity to help Minnesotans recover from COVID-19 and ensure everyone can succeed and thrive once the pandemic is behind us. House DFLers announced our budget framework for the coming year. The highlights include:
Minnesota is a state of abundance, with great schools, quality health care, and vibrant communities. We also need to recognize the pandemic hasn’t affected everyone equally, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have experienced the greatest impacts over the last year, both as it relates to health and economic opportunity. We can only take full advantage of our state’s abundance if we make thoughtful investments in what we value and take intentional action to eliminate the persistent disparities that have held too many Minnesotans behind.
Over one million Minnesotans have now received the full series of COVID-19 vaccine. This is an incredible benchmark in our efforts in overcoming the pandemic. We’re anticipating greater supplies of the vaccine from the federal government and as a result, all Minnesotans age 16 or older are now eligible to get a shot.
If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, I highly encourage you to check out Minnesota’s COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, a tool to help people find out when, where, and how to get a vaccine. It also has information in other languages including Spanish, Hmong, and Somali.
Public Safety Committee
Over the last several weeks I’ve chaired several hearings of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee on legislation to ensure all Minnesotans can experience true public safety and the human dignity every person deserves.
Following the tragic shootings in Atlanta recently, we discussed legislation to hold those who commit hate crimes in Minnesota accountable. We heard several pieces of legislation to increase law enforcement accountability, including a prohibition on civil liability immunity, duties on peace officers and law enforcement agencies regarding body camera recordings of use of deadly force incidents, and a measure to require professional liability insurance for officers. We also approved a measure to comprehensively strengthen the state’s criminal sexual conduct law to help survivors receive justice.
I encourage you to follow along with our work on our committee’s webpage with updates about our hearings and the legislation we discuss.
Please continue to be in touch with your ideas, viewpoints, or if I can ever be of assistance. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and my Capitol phone number is 651-224-6647. I also invite you to follow me on Facebook. If you have neighbors, coworkers, or friends who you think would be interested in receiving these updates, share this with them and encourage them to subscribe here.
It’s an honor to represent you.