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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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Halfway Through Session

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Rep. Nelson

Neighbors, 

More Minnesotans are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We reached our goal of vaccinating 70% of Minnesotans 65 and older last week, despite original projections showing that wouldn’t be the case until the end of this month. With vaccine administration being ahead of schedule, it’s highly possible that full vaccination could be a reality for all Minnesotans who want it by this summer. Events like the State Fair are within our reach, as long as we play it smart in the coming months.

Now eligible

Minnesotans who are now eligible to receive a vaccine include the following:

  • People with certain underlying conditions, including sickle cell disease, down syndrome, and oxygen-dependent chronic lung or heart conditions, and those who are in active cancer treatment or immunocompromised from organ transplant
  • People with rare conditions or disabilities that put them at higher risk
  • Food processing plant workers

These groups will receive priority, but providers may offer available appointments to others who are eligible, including Minnesotans from the next tier:

  • People 45 or older with one or more of the underlying medical conditions identified by the CDC
  • People 16 or older with two or more of the underlying conditions
  • People 50 or older in multi-generational housing
  • Essential frontline workers, including airport staff, child care workers who weren’t previously eligible, first responders, judicial system workers, public health workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, and those who work in agriculture; correctional settings; food production, retail, or service; manufacturing, and public transit.

If you haven’t yet, I’d encourage you to sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector to get regular updates on vaccine availability and eligibility. In some cases, your employer will have more information on vaccine availability, and it’s a good idea to be in touch with your health care provider too. Vaccine supplies from the federal government are increasing, and this progress represents one more step towards the end of the pandemic.

 


 

Increased Capacity for Businesses and Gatherings

An increase in vaccinations also means an increase in the ways we can safely gather - while still following the public health guidelines that have kept us healthy. This week, restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, barbers, and venues began operating under new, loosened guidelines. For many businesses, this is the closest things have been to “normal” since the start of the pandemic.

New Business & Gathering Guidelines

This is good news, but it’s important to remember that we’re still in a pandemic. Though cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are lower than what we saw earlier this winter, they are still occurring. You can read about the specific changes to Minnesota’s Stay Safe Plan here, but be sure to continue to wear a mask, stay socially distant, wash your hands, and get a COVID test when necessary

 


 

Halfway Through Session

At this point, we’re about halfway through the 2021 Legislative Session. As chair of the State Government Finance and Elections Committee, I’m hearing numerous pieces of legislation as we come up to committee deadlines - which help legislators narrow the focus on priority bills to continue forward.

As we start the process of crafting our budget proposal in the Minnesota House, there are two recent changes to consider, one of them being the federal American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden last week. If you want to learn more about this robust assistance package, the nonpartisan National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) has an excellent overview of the measure you can check out here.

With incoming federal funds, and a revised state budget forecast, Governor Walz’s revised proposal is another recent change to consider, and it does the following: cuts taxes for Minnesotans who received unemployment benefits during the pandemic, expands the renter’s property tax refund, increases eligibility for the Working Family Credit, and includes an Earned Sick and Safe Time proposal to ensure that workers can accrue up to 48 hours per year of paid leave.

The coming weeks are going to be filled with long committee meetings and late floor sessions, but the outcome will be a state budget that funds Minnesota for the next two years. I’ll be doing my part to ensure that this budget invests in the things our community cares about, and helps us get through and bounce back from this pandemic. 

If you have any questions or comments on our work ahead in the Minnesota House, please feel free to reach out to me. The best way to contact my office is through email (rep.michael.nelson@house.mn) or phone (651-296-3751). I appreciate hearing from you. 

Sincerely, 

 

Rep. Michael V. Nelson

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