Committees are buttoning up their policy omnibus bills in accordance with the first committee deadline. This week, I had a few bills up in committee, which you can read about below. Between four floor sessions, committee meetings, virtual constituent meetings, and two exciting announcements from the governor, it’s been a whirlwind of a week.
This week, three of my bills received hearings in committee. The first would provide third-party reimbursement for health-care related services provided by school social workers. More specifically, the measure would allow reimbursement by Medical Assistance of school social work services based on a student’s IEP rather than requiring a diagnostic assessment.
I presented my second bill to the House Taxes Committee this week, which would provide a refundable sales tax exemption on materials used in the construction or improvements of the various infrastructure projects at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Both bills are being considered for inclusion to a larger finance package.
I also had a bill heard in committee, which was brought to me by the City of St. Louis Park. It would allow existing residential and commercial property to install energy improvement systems, and then request the city to assess their property taxes for the costs of the project over a period of time. The bill would also allow residents and small business owners the ability to install items like solar panels without having to pay the entire cost up front. Thank you to the city of St. Louis Park for the creative approach in offering their residents a chance to do their part to combat climate change.
Updated Vaccine Information
& Public Health Guidance
After a long, cold winter, the sun is out, and hope is on the horizon. We’re ahead of schedule in our vaccination timeline, allowing more Minnesotans to become eligible to get their dose this week.
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.
At this rate, President Biden has announced that all adults in the US should be able to receive the vaccine this May.
With vaccination rates increasing and COVID-19 cases on the gradual decline, Governor Walz issued new public health guidance today, which will go into effect Monday at noon.
This is encouraging news for Minnesota, but it’s important we protect the progress we’ve made by continuing to mask up, maintain a safe distance, and get tested if we’re not feeling well. New variants of the virus have already popped in the west metro and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to keep each other safe.
Emergency Rental Assistance
Households with unpaid rent and low incomes may qualify for help paying for rent and utility bills.
Hennepin County is offering an initial short-term program to get urgent help to households with high need. More help will be offered to even more households through a statewide COVID-19 Emergency Rent Assistance program opening later this month.
Rent is still due during the State of Minnesota’s evictions moratorium. You can’t be evicted for not paying rent under Governor Walz’s executive order, but this order may be lifted soon and you will be at risk of eviction if you have unpaid rent. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 19 at noon.
Connecting with Constituents
It was great to connect virtually with area Girl Scouts this week! These future leaders were advocating for additional funding to the Girl Scouts organization, which was also a bill we heard this week in the Education Finance Committee. Great job making your voices heard, girls!
I also had the opportunity to connect with our hardworking AFSCME members for their virtual day at the Capitol. These community members have been doing a tremendous job working under the stressful and challenging circumstances of the pandemic and I’m grateful for all they do to keep our state running.
I also met with constituents for Disability Services Day on the Hill. Grateful for the work they do to ensure our community members can live with the dignity they deserve.
Stay in Touch
Please continue reaching out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-9889. Because we continue to operate remotely in the House, email is the quickest way to get in touch.
Thank you for the honor of serving our Hopkins and St. Louis Park neighbors at the Capitol.