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

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March 26: Legislative and Vaccine Updates

Friday, March 26, 2021

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Dear Neighbors,

This past week has been particularly gratifying, as we head towards the legislative week-long break after months of intensive committee hearings. On Monday, I finally attended a House Floor session in person at the Capitol!

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As I reflect back on the past few months, I’m struck by how moving from private citizen to public servant has changed my perspectives on the process. 

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Everyone, regardless of political party, works extremely hard in the legislature. Policy differences notwithstanding, there is a sense of shared commitment to the process that inspires and reassures me that the democratic system can in fact work. 
  • Being a legislator is being a student. I have learned more about my state and the world in the past few months than any time since I was a college student. Every day, I have the privilege to take deep dives into far-reaching spheres, such as public safety policy, environmental policy, questions of data privacy, and all of the incredible complexities around education. This is a privilege, and I hope to wield this newfound knowledge on behalf of our community and state. 
  • Connecting in a pandemic is hard. I am always happy to schedule a Zoom meeting or exchange emails with the community. That said, I can’t wait until we can gather again - in parks, in community centers, in backyards, and most importantly - IN PERSON! I feel like we’re close, and really look forward to meeting in person with the community as the weather warms and the pandemic recedes.

If you have not already done so, please fill out my legislative survey to let me know how you feel about these important issues. Hearing from constituents is critically important as I vote on key laws that will impact our community and state.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

Compensatory School Funding Bill

I am the lead author of the Compensatory School Funding Bill, which modifies how we calculate, spend, and target funds directed at students in the greatest need of additional academic support, based on levels of free and reduced lunch. 

We had a great hearing in the Education Finance Committee on Wednesday, March 24th, and I am optimistic that this bill has a path forward to being passed into law. This will serve three important purposes: First, it will expand the funding essential to ensure that we are spending adequately to address the opportunity gap. Second, it will address recommendations by the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) in that we will better track the impact of these funds and we will more effectively count the students in need of the funding. Lastly, we know that the impact of the income opportunity gap is hundreds of millions in GDP losses. When we invest in all kids, we all see benefits to society.

Earned Sick and Safe Time for Minnesota Workers

One of the bills we advanced this week ensures that Minnesotans aren’t forced to choose between a paycheck and taking care of themselves or a loved one. Under this legislation, workers would earn at least one hour of paid Earned Sick and Safe Time for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. Workers can use this time to stay home when they’re sick, to take care of a family member, or for an absence related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  

As a small business owner myself, with nine employees and 10 years of successful growth in my operations, I voted in support of this bill. I want the state in which I operate to be one that supports workers and the community. 

COVID-19 has demonstrated that we all benefit when workers have the ability to stay home without missing their paycheck. This bill would make our workplaces, schools, and communities healthier, and I am proud to support it in the House.

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Preventing Wage Discrimination

March 24th was Equal Pay Day, an annual reminder that American women continue to be paid less than men. For every dollar that a white man is paid, Asian women make 85¢, white women make 82¢, Black women make 61¢, Indigenous women make 58¢, and Latina women make 53¢. One of the reasons that this gap exists is that employers can ask job applicants about their pay history and use it to make compensation decisions, which perpetuates the cycle of discrimination. Yesterday, the Minneosta House advanced the Preventing Discrimination Act, a bill that halts this practice and brings us one step closer to closing the pay gap.

House File 403 addresses a systemic issue of pay disparities. Small businesses in particular should not see these measures as a threat. Larger corporations may think in terms of scale and percentages, but small businesses have the good fortune to be able to see our employees as human beings, and fair pay as something that we strive for. I find that if I treat my employees well and I pay them fairly, they help my business grow and thrive.

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Summer Learning Package Advances 

Students, parents, and families are suffering the consequences of this pandemic more than others both academically and emotionally. On Tuesday, we passed a robust summer learning package to help address learning loss through hands-on tutoring and programming, ensure our students have an opportunity to get caught up, and provide critical mental health support to those who need it. I voted in support of the bill and am looking forward to seeing it help our kids succeed.

Summer Learning Package

Town Hall Meeting: Mark Your Calendars!

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On March 30th at 7 P.M. Senator Mary Kunesh, Representative Connie Bernardy and I will be hosting a Town Hall meeting. You can RSVP to join on the Zoom call and submit your questions prior to the event on the following Google form, or simply watch the live-broadcast of the event on the Senate District 41 page. You will receive the Zoom link the day before the event. 

We look forward to addressing the issues important to our district.

CLICK HERE TO RSVP

Vaccine Distribution Update

Yesterday, Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan announced the expansion of vaccine eligibility for people 16 years of age and older starting March 30th. The announcement is in response to the increased supply of vaccines by the federal government to arrive in April.

In the past months, Minnesota has proven to be a national leader in getting shots into arms, and will now be able to step into the final stage of distribution. 

This week, Minnesota was ranked number one in the country for the percentage of vaccine doses administered to Minneostans. For more information, please check out this article by the Star Tribune. 

If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, I encourage you to check out Minnesota’s COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, a tool to help people find out when, where, and how to get a vaccine. It can let you know when you’re eligible to be vaccinated, connect you to resources to schedule a vaccine appointment, and alert you if there are vaccine opportunities nearby. To sign up, visit mn.gov/vaccineconnector or call 833-431-2053.

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Staying in Touch

As always, I appreciate the correspondence from the community on areas of concern or questions that anyone may have. I also love meeting via Zoom with constituents to hear about what’s on your mind. In recent weeks, I’ve heard from residents about ensuring that we craft a budget that supports all Minnesotans through a just taxation system that supports our values. I’ve also heard from residents urging me to support our music and theater venues to ensure that when the pandemic recedes, the arts can continue to flourish. I’ve also heard from a number of medical professionals supporting legislation that will ensure that we can continue to benefit from telehealth consultations. Lastly, many residents reached out in the wake of two mass shootings in recent weeks to urge common sense gun violence prevention measures to protect public safety. 

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)

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