I hope you had an enjoyable summer with your friends and family, and the transition to fall is treating you well. If you have students in your family, I hope their school year is off to a great start and they will be safe and successful in the classroom.
This week, the Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee will visit Northern Minnesota to learn about proposed projects to be funded with state bonding dollars. The panel will visit the Cloquet Fire Department, the Brookston Campground, Boat Launch and Recreation Facility, Pine Technical College, and sites in Duluth and on the Iron Range.
Here’s an update from the State Capitol.
On Tuesday, October 12, I’ll chair a hearing of the House Agriculture Committee to discuss the impact of this summer’s drought on Minnesota’s agriculture industry and our food supply. While the situation has improved in recent weeks, much of the state remains under at least moderate drought, with areas in northern Minnesota remaining under severe or extreme conditions.
Farmers and livestock producers deserve assistance to help them navigate this difficult situation, and legislative action will be necessary to deliver financial relief. Recently, Governor Walz announced a $10 million drought assistance package, with $5 million in rapid response grants for livestock producers and specialty crop producers, and another $5 million for the Rural Finance Authority’s Disaster Recovery Loan Program, offering zero-interest loans for Minnesota farmers whose operations are suffering from lack of rain, helping cover expenses not covered by insurance. I’m hopeful we can work together in a bipartisan fashion to deliver this funding.
We will also receive an update on Minnesota’s emerging aquaculture industry, and committee members will have the opportunity to hear about fish, shrimp, shellfish, bait, and other aquatic life being farmed in our state.
More information on the hearing, including information about how to watch live, will be available on our committee webpage.
The CDC has recently recommended boosters for those who have received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. With the effectiveness of the vaccine decreasing over time, the booster will help extend the protection of those who received this variety of shot. For those who received the vaccine at least six months ago, groups eligible for a booster include those who:
Boosters are not yet available for those who received the Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Visit the Minnesota Vaccine Locator for a location to receive either your booster or initial vaccine series.
With the Delta variant still fueling the pandemic, it remains important for as many people as possible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, free, and effective in helping prevent the virus from spreading in our communities. Please make plans to get your shot if you haven’t yet done so. Additionally, it’s a good idea to get a flu shot this year to not only protect yourself, but to help prevent added pressure on our care facilities and health care workers as a result of influenza.
While temperatures remain above average, starting Friday, Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule (CWR) takes effect, which protects people from electricity and natural gas shutoffs during the coldest period of the year. If you’re behind on energy bills, the CWR allows you to enter a payment plan with your natural gas or electric provider. Visit the Public Utilities Commission website for more information.
Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program helps families pay for current and past-due bills for electricity, gas, oil, biofuel and propane, emergency fuel delivery, and repair/replacement of homeowners’ broken heating systems. Starting this year, the program has been expanded to include water and sewer bills. Over $130 million in federal funding for this program with over 600,000 households eligible. More information is available from the Minnesota 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.