We continue to make good progress in putting COVID-19 behind us. In response to CDC guidance, the statewide mask requirement for most settings has ended (though individual businesses can still require masks, and they are still required in schools), and on May 28, many additional restrictions will also end. Still, we aren’t completely out of the woods. Please make plans to get your COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t yet done so and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Many locations are now offering walk-in opportunities, with no appointment required. Additionally, 12-15-year-olds are now eligible to get shots. Find a location to get your shot here.
On Monday, Governor Tim Walz, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka announced a bipartisan framework for a new two-year state budget. The work isn’t done, and lawmakers will keep working to come up with a compromise on all the details in advance of a June special session. Still, the framework will enable us to make meaningful investments in those who have faced the biggest challenges over the past year, namely students, families, workers, and small businesses. We didn’t receive guidance from the federal government on how states can use American Rescue Plan funding until this month, so finalizing this year’s budget is more complex than usual. Nevertheless, this funding will be highly beneficial to helping our state recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
One plan already ironed out in the agreement is a sizable $70 million investment in high-speed broadband to help us meet our speed and connectivity goals. Minnesotans deserve fast, reliable internet service for education, commerce, health care, and information. Over the past year, Minnesotans have relied on the ability to get online more than ever before, and these investments are critical for rural communities to thrive.
After an incredibly challenging year with learning interruptions caused by COVID-19, Minnesota students deserve the ability to catch up with their learning and strengthen their emotional wellbeing. Earlier this week, Governor Walz announced a $75 million investment in summer education programming. The funding will go toward academic enrichment, mental health support, tutoring, preschool for four- and five-year-olds, and more. Ensuring a bright future for our young people is one significant part of our recovery and a piece for optimism as we turn the page beyond the pandemic.
On Monday, the House and Senate both passed a package of Agriculture policy legislation. The bill includes several bipartisan measures that will strengthen the outlook for agriculture in Minnesota including:
Farmers and others who work in food production are critically important to our state’s success, and we will keep working to ensure they can have the bright future they deserve. This legislation is one example of our ability to work together and deliver the type of effective outcome from government Minnesotans expect. I’m confident that as we finalize a state budget, we can move forward with a spirit of bipartisanship to strengthen the future for all Minnesotans.
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.