I hope your summer is going well, with plenty of outside time with family and friends.
We’re well past the end of the 2022 legislative session, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not important work left to be done – far from it. In the final week of session, Governor Walz and legislative leaders agreed to a framework for a supplemental budget to meet critical state needs. But in the detailed negotiations, the Senate largely insisted on its own approach, and the session ended in May with essentially no supplemental budget and few policy changes. The Senate Majority Leader has since announced that the Senate is no longer willing to negotiate at all.
Too many Minnesotans lack an affordable and stable place to live, fully funded schools, accessible health care, and much more. At the same time, our state has a multi-billion dollar budget surplus – an unprecedented opportunity to help meet these needs. I’ll continue to push for our work to be completed in a special session. In the meantime, it is deeply disappointing that Senate Republicans have chosen simply to walk away.
Frontline Worker Pay - Applications Closing TODAY
One of the significant accomplishments this session was the investment of $500 million in bonuses for the frontline workers who kept our state running during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Health care workers, first responders, food service and retail workers, and many more are eligible for this bonus. There are just a few hours left to submit an application by 5pm.
Learn more and apply at frontlinepay.mn.gov.
More Progress this Session
There were several other notable wins for Minnesota this session. Particularly exciting was the passage of a groundbreaking law to expand mental health resources. It will increase hospital bed capacity, attract new mental health care professionals, and expand the use of mobile crisis services. It will also close a major gap between the criminal justice and mental health systems that I see frequently in my non-legislative work as a prosecutor. More details on the law are here.
This session also saw significant (and in some cases unprecedented) investments in public health infrastructure, high-speed broadband, research into ALS, and services to address the opioid crisis. We also extended the COVID-19 worker’s comp presumption for first responders and reformed state liquor laws, among a number of policy changes. I’m proud of these results, even with so much more to do.
Protecting Reproductive Rights
I happened to be at a conference in Boston when the Supreme Court’s infuriating decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was announced. Elected officials at the conference from a variety of states gathered at the Massachusetts State House to stand in solidarity.
People should have the right to make their own decisions about their reproductive health care. Millions of Americans have now lost that right. For these Americans, deeply personal decisions about when and how to become a parent are now in the hands of politicians. That will put women's lives at risk and cause suffering for their families.
On the other hand, we received some good news in this area in Minnesota in the last few weeks. First was Governor Walz’s executive order to protect people coming to Minnesota seeking abortions (and those caring form them). And then last week, a state court struck down many of Minnesota’s outdated and harmful abortion restrictions
Abortion remains legal in Minnesota. But protecting that right in our state, and standing with those who have lost that right in other states, is going to take a fight. As a founding member of the Reproductive Freedom Caucus, I’m ready for that fight.
National Progress on Gun Violence Prevention
This summer started with horrific and well-publicized mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. But we know that gun violence impacts our community every day. I certainly see that in my work as a prosecutor outside of the Legislature. As the longtime House author of the bill to require criminal background checks, I know that there is so much more that we could do to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
In Minnesota, these steps continue to be blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate. But nationally, there was some good news as President Biden signed into law a bipartisan package of modest but still-important reforms. I hope and pray that we can build on this work, escape the cycle that we are in, and keep all of us safer.
COVID News: Vaccines for Young Kids, and Free At-Home COVID Tests
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved two COVID-19 vaccines for children who are six months old or older. Both vaccines were carefully studied and can help protect children from severe disease, hospitalization, and death. They’re administered in smaller doses and packaged differently than vaccines that are available for older children and adults.
More than 300 providers in Minnesota are offering vaccines to children between six months and five years of age, including pediatricians, pharmacies, and community clinics. Parents and guardians can use the Vaccine Locator Map to find local providers. More information about COVID vaccines for children is available at mn.gov/vaxforkids.
And just a reminder that every household in the U.S. is eligible for free at-home tests for COVID-19. If you’d like to receive free tests, please visit special.usps.com/testkits. All you have to do is enter your name and address, and the USPS will send eight tests directly to your home.
The State of Minnesota is offering free at-home tests as well. You can order them online here or call the Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-431-2053. The hotline is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
New 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
Last week, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline was launched. The hotline, transitioning from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline with a shorter, easier-to-remember number, will connect people in crisis with trained counselors. Federal funding is supporting the new service, which will close a significant gap in mental health services. Traditional responses to 911 calls, such as law enforcement, aren’t uniquely equipped to respond to mental health crises.
Crisis workers are available at the three-digit number 24/7 and can connect callers to additional support or in-person care. The service is free and confidential.
After this week, incumbent legislators are no longer allowed to send communications like these updates via email or postal mail for the rest of the summer and fall. Still, I invite you to contact me directly with your input, feedback, or if I can ever be of assistance regarding a state issue. I also encourage you to follow along on my State Representative Facebook page, and sign up for these updates if you haven’t already.
Policy work is at its best when it includes a wide range of input and involvement. #EverybodyIn. Always feel free to reach out to my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4199. Thank you for the honor of representing our community in the Minnesota House.