There are now about ten days left in the legislative session, which is constitutionally required to end on Monday, May 18. My colleagues and I continue to meet in virtual committee hearings and to pass legislation, albeit with most legislators calling into the House chamber. Starting tomorrow (Saturday), the House will begin meeting nearly every day in a full floor session.
While much of our focus has been on bills that address COVID-19 and the challenges it has created, at least some other legislation is advancing as well. A reminder that you can watch committee hearings and House floor sessions here. House Public Information Services, which is linked here, is also a great nonpartisan source for legislative news. And of course you should be sure to follow my office on Facebook.
Yesterday, my colleagues and I approved a package of legislation to protect Minnesotans’ economic well-being during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. It would invest $100 million in housing assistance for renters and homeowners and $55 million in emergency loans for small businesses. It would also increase wages for personal care assistants and funding for broadband access to improve access to distance learning and telemedicine. More information about this package of legislation is available here.
On Monday, the House also approved legislation to ensure hourly school employees, including paraprofessionals, nutrition services staff, bus drivers, and others, get paid through the end of the school year. These workers are still providing valuable services and support to students, even during distance learning, and they deserve to be compensated. More information about this bill is available here.
Minnesotans shouldn’t have to risk their health to participate in our democracy. On Monday, the House passed a bipartisan bill to protect the 2020 election and future elections. It invests federal funding into cybersecurity to protect us from hackers and foreign interference and gives counties and cities greater flexibility in conducting safe elections during the pandemic. You can read more about the legislation here.
As you’ve undoubtedly heard, Governor Walz has extended the stay at home order until Monday, May 18. The order has been modified so retail stores and non-critical businesses can safely begin curbside pick-up and delivery. You can find more details about the order here.
Starting next week, hospitals, clinics, and surgical centers can begin performing elective medical procedures, once they create a plan to keep patients and healthcare workers safe. Read the relevant executive order here.
And yesterday, the Governor shared a five-point plan to protect Minnesotans in long-term care facilities. In the coming days, our state will expand testing for residents and workers at long-term care facilities, create strike teams to provide testing support, provide additional personal protective equipment to long-term care facilities, ensure adequate staffing levels, and partner with local public health organizations. More information about the new plan is available here.
Minnesota’s COVID-19 dashboard, linked here, is an excellent source for the latest information about COVID-19. And you can find more information about our legislative response here on the Minnesota House’s COVID-19 website.
Minnesota’s program to help low-income families afford child care pays providers at very low rates - so low that we’re out of compliance with federal law, risking a multi-million dollar penalty. Meanwhile, the necessary increase can be paid for almost entirely with federal dollars that have been building up for several years (awaiting this very change) and can’t be spent on anything else. The Early Childhood Committee that I chair recently heard my proposal to fix this problem. With an industry that was already in crisis before the pandemic - and essential workers desperate for child care – it’s long past time to make this change.
In the meantime, pursuant to a declaration by Governor Walz, this is Family Child Care Provider Week. Thank you to those who are helping our children get off to a #GreatStartMN.
If you’ve recently been laid off, you can find free career counseling and training services via the Dislocated Worker Program. This program, which is run by Goodwill – Easter Seals and the state of Minnesota, provides one-on-one career counseling, funding for career certifications and training programs, and assistance with resumes, interviews, and networking. To learn more, contact Avery at email@example.com or (612) 286-8597.
It’s National Nurses Week, a chance to highlight the skills and commitment of these essential health care providers. There’s never been a more important time to honor and thank the nurses who are risking their own lives to care for us and for our loved ones. Nurses, you and your work are valued, vital, and so appreciated. Thank you!
Finally, a big thank you to everyone who joined Rep. Her, Sen. Cohen, and me for our virtual town hall. I’m eager to find more ways to connect with constituents during the pandemic. In the meantime, if you weren’t able to participate, you can watch the event here.
Please continue to keep in touch as the legislative session comes to a close, and take care of yourself and your loved ones. Thank you for the honor of serving our community.