The bitter cold seems to be ending. While the winter weather comes along with living in Minnesota, it can still create a crisis for Minnesotans who struggle to pay heating bills. If that is you, or someone you know, help is available through Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program. Funding is available on a first-come, first-serve basis to help Minnesotans with heating bills, fuel deliveries, or furnace repair or replacement.
The state’s Cold Weather Rule is also in effect until April 15, which allows Minnesotans to sign up for a payment plan with their energy providers to prevent utility shut-offs. More information is available from the Public Utilities Commission.
Every two seconds, a patient needs blood. But another impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the cold weather is a severe shortage of blood. Blood has a short shelf life, and the supply must constantly be replenished. Healthy, eligible donors can find their local blood center via aabb.org/giveblood to make an appointment. One blood donation can save up to 3 lives. Giving blood is safe and easy. Please help if you can and bring a friend.
The slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has been frustrating to many. Still, there are signs the situation is improving. Supplies have increased and Minnesota has made progress getting vaccines into people. There is still not enough vaccine for all who want it, but the federal government is getting more into the pipeline, the distribution system is becoming more robust, and FDA approval for a third version of the vaccine – from Johnson & Johnson – is imminent. Last week, Governor Walz announced Minnesota has surpassed one million doses administered.
As more opportunities for Minnesotans to receive the COVID vaccine become available, the state has launched a new Vaccine Connector tool. It will alert you when you’re eligible, connect you to resources to schedule an appointment, and notify you about vaccine opportunities near you. Learn more and sign up here. Assistance is also available over the phone at 833-431-2053.
My Rochester colleague Rep. Liz Boldon and I invite you to join us for our next Virtual Town Hall on Saturday, March 6 at 10 a.m. You can either join us on Zoom (meeting ID: 971 0681 2112, passcode: 291465) or Facebook Live. The event is nonpartisan and everyone in the community is welcome. You’re invited to submit questions ahead of time at bit.ly/March6TownHall.
We had 70 community members join us live during our last event in January. We hope you can join us for another engaging discussion about the important issues we’re working on in Saint Paul.
Rochester has a large hospitality and service industry, and those workers have been impacted particularly hard by COVID-19. House DFLers have put forth solutions to protect their health and economic security.
When a sick worker can’t afford to stay home it impacts all of us. Our Earned Sick and Safe Time proposal would require, at a minimum, one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours per year. Many of our lowest-wage workers are already the least likely to have access to any paid time off but they--as much as anyone else—should have paid time off when sick.
Another bill would help many hospitality workers who had been laid off due to COVID find a pathway back to their jobs. The bill would require employers to provide eligible workers with information about available job positions for which they qualify, and to rehire employees based on a preference system of qualifications and seniority. The bill applies to workers employed by hotels, airports, and event centers, as well as the facilities attached to them such as restaurants, bars, and retail. Those working in related services such as maintenance, security, ticketing, ground-handling, and food and beverage would be eligible as well.
As always, please contact me with your questions, comments, and concerns. Let me know if I can assist you in any way. The best way to reach me is by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-0573. Thank you for the privilege of representing you in St. Paul.