First of all, I’d like to congratulate Hugo resident C/TSgt. Anna Stambaugh and her fellow cadets from Anoka Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol. This team of high school students recently qualified for the national semi-final round of StellarXplorers, a national space system design challenge that encourages students to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I wish them all the best!
Supporting Paid Family and Medical Leave
Minnesotans shouldn’t be forced to choose between a paycheck and taking care of a new baby, a loved one, or themselves. On Tuesday, I participated in the first hearing for a bill that provides workers with up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave so that they can take time off to bond with a new child, care for an aging parent, or seek treatment for a serious illness while receiving a percentage of their regular wages.
Research has shown that paid family and medical leave programs help increase breastfeeding rates; reduce infant deaths; increase labor force participation and employee retention; and increase lifetime earnings and retirement security, especially among women, who are already more likely to live in poverty during retirement. I proudly cast my vote for this critical legislation, which is now on its way to the next committee.
Support for Child Care Providers
During today’s Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee, I presented a bill that provides funding for two important programs. One of them, the TEACH program, provides scholarships to early childhood and school-age care providers to help them earn college credits and degrees. The other, the REETAIN program, provides competitive grants to eligible child care providers to incentivize them to remain in the early care and education field. Committee members heard powerful testimony from past recipients of these scholarships and grants, and the bill advanced with unanimous support.
Allowing Homeowners to Install Solar Panels
Minnesotans should have the right to install solar energy panels on their homes. However, many can’t due to restrictions or opposition from their homeowners association (HOA). Under current law, HOAs are allowed to forbid homeowners from putting solar panels on their own roofs. I’ve introduced a bill to modify this statute, allowing HOAs to regulate but not ban solar panels. WCCO recently published an article about this legislation.
Vaccine Distribution Update
Nearly 90 percent of Minnesotans who have died due to COVID-19 were 65 years of age or older, so delivering vaccines to our seniors is critical. Today, Governor Walz announced a goal to vaccinate 70 percent of the state’s seniors by the end of March. Once we reach this benchmark, eligibility for the vaccine will expand based on underlying health conditions and risks of workplace exposure.
Based on current projections, the next group of Minnesotans who are eligible for a vaccine will begin receiving them in April and everyone should be able to get one by this summer. However, these projections may change as the vaccine supply Minnesota receives from the federal government is adjusted. I encourage you to sign up for the Vaccine Connector to stay informed on your eligibility and get connected to vaccine opportunities once they’re available.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or if I can be of assistance. You can reach me at email@example.com or 651-296-3018.