I hope this email finds you and your family well and enjoying the start of spring! Here’s the latest news from the Capitol:
Expanding Access to Earned Sick and Safe Time
Many of us are caregivers or will become caregivers at some point in the future. Last week, I voted for a bill that would give more Minnesotans time away from work so they can care for their loved ones and themselves. Under this legislation, all workers would earn, at a minimum, one hour of Earned Sick and Safe Time for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours per year. Minnesotans could use this paid time off to take care of a family member, stay home when they’re sick, or get help if they experience events like domestic violence or sexual assault.
Supporting Minnesota Workers
The Minnesota House passed several additional bills to protect and support Minnesota workers last week. One of the bills would make sure frontline workers receive workers’ compensation if they contract COVID-19 or are exposed to it on the job. We passed the same legislation last year, but it’s set to expire on May 1. This bill would extend the deadline until December 31 so doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, police officers, correctional officers, and the child care workers who care for their children can continue accessing these benefits.
We also passed a bill to help hospitality and service sector workers who lost their jobs due to COVID-19. It requires certain businesses – such as hotels, airports, and event centers - to provide information about available positions to qualified Minnesotans who they laid off and rehire those workers when they’re ready to bring people back.
Finally, we passed a bill that prohibits employers from requesting a job applicant’s pay history. Since women, especially women of color, are often paid less than men, employers who use this information to evaluate applicants and determine compensation for new hires may perpetuate gender- and race-based discrimination. Putting a stop to this practice will help close the wage gap and ensure that all Minnesotans receive equal pay for equal work.
Supporting Minnesota Students
COVID-19 has created many challenges for students and their families. We recently passed a robust summer learning plan to ensure learners of all ages have a chance to catch up and recover from the past year. It provides funding for summer programming, tutoring, hands-on learning opportunities, mental health services, and more. These critical investments will help meet students’ academic and emotional needs and ensure that they’re prepared for the future.
Vaccine Eligibility Expanded
All Minnesotans who are 16 years old or older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine! If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, I encourage you to check out the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, which will send you alerts when there are vaccine opportunities in your area. You can sign up at mn.gov/vaccineconnector or call 833-431-2053. You can also contact your health care provider, local pharmacy, or use the state’s Vaccine Locator Map to search for providers in your area.
While everyone 16 and older is eligible, that doesn’t mean that everyone will be able to get vaccinated right away. Unfortunately, the demand for the vaccine is still greater than the supply. However, vaccine opportunities are expected to increase as Minnesota receives larger shipments from the federal government over the next few weeks.
Addressing Escalating Hatred and Violence Against the AAPI Community
Finally, I’d like to address the disturbing rise in discrimination and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Eight people, several of whom were of Asian descent, were killed on March 16 during a series of horrific shootings in Atlanta. I encourage you to watch the powerful speech that my colleague Rep. Tou Xiong gave in response, which places this tragedy in the broader context of ongoing racism against the AAPI community. We must take action to stop these hateful words and actions.
Reminder: Take My Legislative Survey
If you haven’t yet, please take a few minutes to respond to my legislative survey! If you’ve already completed it, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your input will help guide my decisions as we head into the final weeks of the legislative session.
If you have additional feedback or questions that you’d like to share, feel free to email me at email@example.com or call 651-296-9934.