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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL)

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Legislative Update- March 23, 2021

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Rep. Richardson

 

Dear Neighbors,

I hope this finds you and your family well. The longer days and warmer weather is a welcome reminder that summer is just around the corner, and with vaccination administration ramped up, we have much to look forward to.


More Minnesota are Vaccine Eligible

Minnesota had set a goal of vaccinating 70% of Minnesotans age 65 and older by the end of March. With the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, and a dedicated response from members of our community, I’m proud to say we hit that goal earlier this month. With that milestone reached, more Minnesotans are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Now eligible

1.8 million Minnesotans are currently eligible to receive a vaccine, including:

  • 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 

More details about eligibility are available here. I encourage you to sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector if you haven’t already. 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.


New Guidelines for Businesses and Gathering

This increase in vaccinations is good news for the fight against COVID, and as more Minnesotans are fully vaccinated, guidelines for businesses and gatherings can be safely altered. Capacity has increased for restaurants, gyms, venues, and celebrations.

New Business & Gathering Guidelines

While this is good news, it’s important to remember that this pandemic is not over - the recent quarantine of Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan should emphasize that risks still remain, and it’s incredibly important to continue to stay socially distant, wear a mask, wash our hands, and get tested when necessary.

You can read about the specifics of the new business and gathering guidelines here.


Our legislative work continues in the Minnesota House. Committee deadlines are upon us, which help us narrow our focus on bills and press forward to balance the state budget and deliver more pandemic support to Minnesotans.

This week, the House advanced a bipartisan summer learning package to address 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 bill also funds student mental health support. A key provision in the legislation prioritizes school districts that have experienced declining enrollment.


I’ve had a busy few weeks presenting bills to meet the deadlines I mentioned above. Here’s a glimpse on some these pieces of legislation important to our community and state:


Combatting Catalytic Converter Theft

Thank you to Geoff Dittberner for testifying to the Commerce committee in support of my bill to address catalytic converter theft. This is a growing problem in our district and across Minnesota that has affected Geoff twice. The bill would allow only licensed scrap metal dealers to buy used catalytic converters from repair shops, auto recyclers or vehicle owners who provide proof of ownership.

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Pine Bend Landfill Remediation Efforts

Thank you to Chair Rick Hansen for hearing HF 836 in the Environment Committee. The bill would return money borrowed from the Metropolitan Landfill Contingency Account for remediation efforts. This is a public health and environmental justice issue for Pine Bend Landfill in Inver Grove Heights and the Burnsville Landfill in Dakota County. Thank you to Commissioner Slavik for testifying in support and Georg Fischer, the Director of Environmental Services, for being available for technical questions.

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Heritage Village Park

It was great to present the Heritage Village Park project in the House Capital Investment Committee with Dakota County Commissioner Joe Atkins and interim City Administrator Heather Rand from the City of Inver Grove Heights. Health is built where we live, learn, work, and play. This project would serve all kids in our community and break down barriers for those with disabilities by building an inclusive play structure. Our bill would fill a gap in funding for this project which already has funding approved from Dakota County and the federal government.

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Equity in Lifesaving Transplants

I’m happy to announce HF 1080, my bill to end discrimination in access to lifesaving transplants, passed out of the Judiciary Committee 16-0.  Access to transplants should be allocated ethically and fairly. No one should be denied access or given lower priority on the basis of discrimination.

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Equity in Care for High-Risk Pregnant Women

I’m pleased to share that HF 2136, an important health equity bill, was heard in the Health Finance Committee recently. The bill would expand the Integrated Care for High-Risk Pregnant Women program — a community-driven initiative to improve birth outcomes in the Black community by reducing the number of preterm births and the number of babies born low birth weight. Thank you, Dr. Nora Hall for testifying in support of this bill.

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Keep in Touch

I hope you’ll continue reaching out with questions, ideas, or feedback anytime at rep.ruth.richardson@house.mn. Don’t hesitate to let me know how I can be of assistance.

Thank you for the honor of representing our Inver Grove Heights, Mendota Heights, Eagan, and Sunfish Lake neighbors at the Capitol.

Have a great week.

Sincerely,

Ruth Richardson

State Representative

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