Thanks to all who attended our virtual town hall on Tuesday. As usual, you asked thoughtful questions and I appreciate you taking time on a weekday night to participate. Sen. Cwodzinski, Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn and I were impressed with the turn out and happy to answer your questions. If you missed tuning in, click here to listen.
Until the end of the month, I am taking your feedback on potential issues of discussion this legislative session. Your priorities are important to me. Please take a moment to click on this link and complete my legislative survey. [You may note this survey was created prior to the February forecast announcement and question #4 does not reflect the current $1.6 billion projected positive balance].
Summer Learning Package Advances
This week, the House Education Finance Committee advanced a measure to fund a summer learning package for Minnesota students from cradle to career.
The bill addresses learning loss by expanding access to tutoring, investing in field trips and hands-on learning, and implementing summer programs for preschoolers, high schoolers, and adult basic education.
The measure also funds student mental health support. A key provision in the legislation prioritizes school districts that have experienced declining enrollment.
Virtual Community Engagement at the Capitol
Remote working continues this legislative session to keep the public and each other safe. This week, Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn, Sen. Cwodzinski and I held a virtual meeting with the Moms Demand Action advocates. We discussed reintroduction HF 694, which closes the private sale background check loopholes and HF 1654, the Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or “red flag” bill. I am a coauthor on both bills.
Vaccine administration has picked up significantly and a milestone was reached this week with Minnesota processing more than two million COVID-19 vaccine doses. This is a result of increased doses from the federal government and expanded capacity to administer the vaccine.
A reminder of expanded eligibility for vaccines was announced recently by Gov. Walz. Check your category, check in with your health plan and make sure you are signed up with the Vaccine Connector.
The Minnesota Department of Health has released a video for those who have questions about the vaccine.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
Last week, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to help thousands across the country and in Minnesota recover from the impact of the pandemic. You can learn more about this historic assistance package from the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL).
Everyone can work to reduce the spread of COVID-19
- Wear masks when in public. 10-50% of virus carriers are asymptomatic (are not experiencing any symptoms). Wearing masks helps control the virus and has been shown to lessen COVID-19 spread.
- Avoid enclosed spaces with groups of people, where the virus can linger in the air for long periods of time.
- Get tested if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.
- Stay six feet away from others.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or sleeve, or a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands afterwards.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose, and mouth – with unwashed hands.
- Up-to-date guidance is available from the Department of Health.
Stay connected with the legislature
The Minnesota House will continue to operate remotely, as we did throughout most of 2020. The House will ensure openness and transparency for the public by expanding 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 here.
Please continue to reach out with any input, ideas, or feedback about the issues important to you. I value hearing from you, so please don’t hesitate to call or email me any time. You can also connect with me on Facebook here. It’s an honor to represent you at the State Capitol.