Yesterday, Governor Walz announced a timeline to end most of Minnesota’s COVID-19 restrictions. The first phase of the plan – lifting certain capacity limits and distancing requirements – took effect earlier today. The remaining capacity and distancing restrictions will end later this month. The statewide mask requirement will remain in place until 70 percent of Minnesotans 16 and older are vaccinated or July 1, whichever comes first.
Since people under 16 aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet, the Safe Learning Plan will continue until the end of the school year. The eviction moratorium, a ban on price gouging, and eligibility exemptions for people who receive state services will also remain in place to protect Minnesotans.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to help defeat COVID-19 and help us all safely get back to the things we’ve missed. If you haven’t gotten your shot yet, please make plans to do so! The COVID-19 Vaccine Connector can help you find vaccine opportunities near you, and many locations are now accepting walk-ins.
Expanding Clean Car Options in Minnesota
In other exciting news, Minnesota is set to become the 15th state in the nation and the first state in the Midwest to adopt clean car standards! Just hours ago, a judge ruled that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has the authority to require automobile manufacturers to produce more low-emission and zero-emission vehicles. This will make it possible for more Minnesotans to buy electric vehicles and hybrids if they want them and increase the availability of new electric models, such as SUVs and trucks. Clean car standards don’t take any choices away – folks who want to drive gas-powered vehicles would still have just as many options to choose from – but it would give the rest of us more access to cars that are better for the environment and our health.
Clean car standards will help our state combat the climate crisis. Transportation is the largest source of Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions, and cleaner cars would reduce our emissions significantly. Having more EVs and hybrids on the road would also reduce air pollution, which benefits us all. Minnesotans who choose to drive electric vehicles would benefit from savings on gas and maintenance as well.
Responding to Republican Threats to Shut Down State Parks and Government
Unfortunately, Senate Republicans are threatening to shut down state parks and dozens of important environmental projects if Minnesota keeps moving forward on clean cars. The Republican legislators who serve with me on the Environment and Natural Resources Conference Committee are refusing to pass an environmental budget unless the Walz Administration halts progress on clean cars. If the Senate doesn’t pass a budget, state parks and most of the environmental arm of our state government will shut down in July. The Star Tribune and WCCO recently published stories about the impact on Minnesotans; you can read them here and here.
Today, House DFLers offered to discuss the 2020 and 2021 LCCMR bills, part of the budget that invests more than $131 million from Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund in dozens of projects across the state. These are projects that Minnesotans want to see in their communities, and they were recommended by the bipartisan Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). Senate Republicans said no and adjourned the hearing several hours early.
Threatening to shut down critical programs and hold up funding that makes sure our air and water are clean, animals and wildlife are protected, and Minnesotans are able to enjoy the outdoors is unacceptable. Senate Republicans are holding our environment and natural resources hostage, and we can’t give in to their demands without putting the future of our state at risk. I will continue urging my colleagues across the aisle to come to the table and help protect Minnesota’s water, air, land, and wildlife for current and future generations.
Upcoming Events and Activities
Garlough Elementary’s annual plant sale is this Saturday! You can check out a list of what they’re selling this year at gemspto.org/plant-sale and stop by the school (1740 Charlton St., West St. Paul) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. tomorrow to purchase your plants and support outdoor education.
Please keep sharing questions, ideas, and feedback and let me know if I can be of assistance. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-6828.