This past Wednesday was Workers Memorial Day, which each year gives us an opportunity to pause and recognize the sacrifices of workers who lost their lives on the job. I was honored to join Governor Walz and representatives from several labor unions, including our building trades. The best way to honor the legacy of the workers we’ve lost is to help ensure workplaces everywhere can be safe, and when necessary, update our state laws to make that a reality.
In the House, we’ve now passed all of our major budget bills off of the floor. Now, House/Senate conference committees will meet to go over the differences between each chamber’s version of the bills, and work toward a bipartisan compromise. We need to ensure our final budget prioritizes the individuals and small businesses that have struggled the most over the last year, and puts them in a good spot to once again succeed and thrive when we’ve put this pandemic behind us.
Here are each of the bills we’ve passed:
The House recently passed our Agriculture budget package. The legislation funds the operations of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Board of Animal Health, and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. Additionally, the bill makes new investments in high-speed broadband across the state. We invest resources in the bill toward encouraging more Minnesotans to explore farming, including funding for an Emerging Farmer Office at the MDA, Farmland Access Teams, and Urban Youth Agriculture. The bill also requires the MDA to help farmers finance new cooperatives that process or market agricultural products or services.
In addition to our agriculture, farming, and food production funding, the bill also invests $30 million over the next two years in the state Border to Border Broadband Grant Program. The funding would help meet state speed and connectivity goals in unserved and underserved parts of the state. The investment would be on top of the funding Minnesota is expected to receive toward broadband under the American Rescue Plan.
A nonpartisan summary of our House Agriculture bill is available here. I’m hopeful we can reach a solid Agriculture budget agreement that strengthens farmers and food production, while improving opportunities for success throughout Greater Minnesota.
When COVID-19 emerged, preventing evictions was an important step to protect the health of Minnesotans. Now that we’re reaching the end of the pandemic, many folks might still be behind on rent. Minnesota Housing has launched RentHelpMN to provide assistance with rent or utility bills for low- and moderate-income Minnesotans who have experienced hardship due to COVID-19. Resources are also available for landlords. Visit renthelpmn.org for more information or to apply. Renter’s Checklist is available here to help determine eligibility and ensure you have everything needed to apply.
This past winter also saw some unique difficulties for heating customers, including the natural gas price hike as a result of February’s polar vortex in the southern United States. If you or someone you know is behind on heating bills from this past winter, help is available. The state’s Energy Assistance Program can provide resources with utility bills, help with shutoff prevention, fuel deliveries, or furnace repair or replacement. Learn more here from the Department of Commerce.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your viewpoints, feedback, or if I can ever be of assistance. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and phone number at the Capitol is 651-296-4308. Feel free to be in touch any time.