Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sandra Feist (DFL)

Back to profile

Legislative Update: February 23, 2021

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Having trouble viewing this? View it as a Web page.

feist header

Dear Neighbors,

This past week, I had the honor of speaking at a press event to celebrate the launch of the “Driver’s Licenses for All” bill. It was an opportunity to bring my expertise and perspectives as an immigration attorney to my role as a legislator. I also heard this week from my colleague, Rep. Dave Pinto about a bill he carried aimed at stemming sex trafficking, which falls within his area of expertise as a prosecutor. My colleague Rep. Cheryl Youakim, a school paraprofessional, recently shared her own story as she presented a bill on paid training for paraprofessionals. I have experienced, and seen, how rich our legislature is for all of the diverse perspectives and life experiences we all bring to our role as lawmakers.

Minnesota Vaccine Distribution Update

According to data reported as of February 19th, the total vaccine doses administered in the state of Minnesota is 1,095,934. The speed of vaccination is picking up to approximately 100,000 people each week, and there have been a series of online tools that make it easier for eligible individuals to schedule appointments and access the latest news on COVID-19 information.

covid19data

The COVID-19 Vaccine Connector Tool 

Minnesota has just launched a new tool to make reliable vaccine updates and COVID-19 related information reach you faster.  The COVID-19 Vaccine Connectorwill help Minnesotans find out when, where, and how to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

When you become eligible, the Vaccine Connector will:

  • alert you of your eligibility;
  • connect you to resources to schedule a vaccine appointment; and
  • notify you if there are vaccine opportunities in your area.

As Minnesotans become eligible for the vaccine, they will still make appointments directly through a registered vaccinator at this time. You can find vaccination centers near you here. 

However, this Connector is an easy way for Minnesotans to stay updated about their eligibility and find opportunities to get a shot once it’s their turn. For more information about signing up, eligibility, and more, visit: https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/connector/

Minnesotans unable to sign up online can have family or friends help them sign up online, or call 833-431-2053 for assistance signing up over the phone.

Vaccine Connector  

Vaccine distribution got off to a slow start throughout the nation, but Minnesota is making improvements every week as we receive more doses from the federal government. A new online vaccine locator map is available to help Minnesotans more easily find and connect with local vaccine providers. This map will grow as the federal government sends Minnesota more doses.

Another helpful resource for information about COVID-19 is https://mn.gov/covid19

Progress as Lead Author on Bills

The legislative process moves rapidly as the many puzzle pieces that move a bill to becoming law fall into place. I’d like to share an update on a bill I am “carrying” in the legislature this week. 

Veterans Restorative Justice Act - Last week, I presented this bill in the Veterans Committee alongside Veterans who have successfully undergone the restorative, rehabilitative treatment that led them back to the community of law-abiding citizens. The bill passed with 13-0 (unanimous bipartisan support) through the Veterans committee. More updates will be available in the upcoming newsletters.

Students are Returning to In-Person Classrooms

As hospitalizations and new COVID-19 cases decline and Minnesota makes progress vaccinating educators, Governor Tim Walz announced an update to Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan to allow more middle and high school students to return to the classroom. 

Beginning February 22, all middle and high school students can return to the classroom for hybrid or in-person learning. Governor Walz expects all schools to offer their students some form of in-person learning by March 8.

In addition to the new health and safety protocols, students and families who are learning in person, in a hybrid learning model, or participating in sports and activities are strongly encouraged to receive a COVID-19 test every two weeks. Families can find locations for free COVID testing on the Minnesota Department of Health’s website.

Approximately 30% of school staff are vaccinated, and more are anticipated to receive the vaccine as we safely open our middle and high schools.

The updated Safe Learning Plan is available here as well as the updated Minnesota Department of Health 2020-2021 Planning Guide for Schools.

Driver’s Licenses for All Legislation

Last week, the Minnesota House DFL introduced “Driver's Licenses for All” legislation, on which I am a co-author. The goal of this bill is to ensure that all drivers who are on our roads - including those who are currently unlicensed and uninsured due to a lack of immigration status - have the necessary training and licensure required to keep our roads safe. 

This bill has many facets, in addition to the core public safety objectives. Ultimately, it’s about enabling immigrant caregivers to attend to the educational, healthcare and social needs of family members, many of whom are U.S. citizens. It’s about ensuring that the many frontline workers, such as the immigrants working at Minnesota’s meatpacking plants, are able to contribute to our food supply and economy. Ultimately, by denying the right to a driver's license we're denying families opportunities, endangering public safety, and criminalizing participation in civic life. 

You can watch the press conference or read the bill here.

COVID-19 Helpline for Refugees and Immigrants

The Department of Human Services (DHS) Resettlement Programs Office has a helpline that will assist refugees and immigrants with any concerns they have related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Refugees and immigrants can call the helpline at 651-318-0989 from 9am to 5pm for information on COVID-19 testing locations, food support, health care and mental health resources, housing and rental assistance, COVID-19 case investigation, and contact tracing.

The helpline has staff that can speak Amharic, Anuak, Arabic, French, Hindi, Karen, Lingala, Luganda, Mashi, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, and Swahili. Language line help is available for any other language. Those who call the hotline can also get information about the services offered through Minnesota’s Resettlement Network, which helps refugees and other humanitarian immigrants with schooling, employment and citizenship. Learn more about the Resettlement Network on the department’s refugee programs webpage.

Staying In Touch

Thanks to those of you who reached out this week! I heard from members of the community about supporting comprehensive soil health, with questions on how the proposed “Page Amendment” would impact residents who homeschool their children (Answer: it shouldn’t), and encouraging me to support arts funding for our theaters, our glass studios, and our many artists in District 41B and statewide.

You can stay up to date on our work for the 2021 Legislative Session by subscribing to these legislative updates and “liking” my official Facebook page. For any questions you have on the resources available to our community or our work in the Minnesota House, you can reach me at rep.sandra.feist@house.mn or leave a voicemail at (651) 296-4331. I look forward to hearing from you.

In Solidarity, 

Sandra Feist

Minnesota State representative (House District 41B)

Recent News for Rep. Sandra Feist