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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL)

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Legislative Update – November 23, 2021

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Hello Northlanders,

I hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Despite the challenges we continue to face, we have plenty to reflect upon with gratitude. I’m particularly thankful for the frontline workers keeping us safe, including health care professionals, EMTs, firefighters, members of law enforcement, and service members, many of whom are stepping up right now to help keep people healthy during the pandemic.

COVID-19 Update

I wish I had better news to share regarding the pandemic, but unfortunately, cases continue to increase and Minnesotans continue to experience serious illness due to COVID-19, which is pushing many hospitals toward capacity. This pressure is greatly impacting emergency rooms, and even those who are seeking attention for a condition other than COVID are facing lengthy waits for care.

These difficulties highlight the importance of as many people getting vaccinated as possible to both prevent the virus from spreading and to help prevent serious illness or hospitalization, particularly those with underlying conditions. If you’ve been hesitant or skeptical, now is the time. As Minnesotans, we care about one another, and it’s heartbreaking to see stories of people hospitalized experiencing regret for not getting the shot. Everyone age 5 or older is now eligible (vaccines for children and teens require written parental permission). A map of locations offering the vaccine is available here.

Also, last week the CDC approved booster shots for all adults aged 18 or older to extend the efficacy of the vaccine. If it’s been six months or longer since you’ve received your initial vaccine series, please consider getting a booster. More information about boosters is available here.

DNR Mining Comments

Mining opponents have sued the state of Minnesota to challenge our state’s current rules about nonferrous mines. Despite the current rules being comprehensive and stringent, but fair, the lawsuit is yet another effort to move the goalposts with the ultimate purpose of preventing any new mining projects from advancing.

No matter your thoughts on a proposal like Twin Metals, projects should be evaluated individually on their own merits, and not be subject to a blanket prohibition. The Minnesota DNR is currently accepting written comments from Minnesotans regarding the current rule. It’s important for folks in northern Minnesota to share their voices about how much of our economic livelihood has been as a result of mining, and we’ve been able to do so safely while protecting our clean water resources. As mining continues to evolve, including the exploration of precious metals like nickel, copper, and cobalt, we’re confident we can continue to do so under the current environmental review process. Moreover, as we transition to cleaner, greener technologies to combat climate change – like electric vehicles – we’re going to be counting on more of these materials and if we can do so safely, we should produce them safely right here at home where they are in abundance. The deadline to share your views is December 8.

Electrical Vehicle Charging Stations

Speaking of electric vehicles, as manufacturers produce more of them in the coming years, it’s important to have an adequate amount of charging stations across the state. This transition won’t be overnight, but we need to be prepared for growing numbers of EVs on the road. I’m pleased that the bipartisan federal infrastructure package, which the U.S. Congress passed and President Biden recently signed into law, includes $68 million for charging stations in Minnesota. By far, this represents the biggest public investment ever in electric vehicle infrastructure. The lengthy distances people in rural areas tend to travel for work or to see family and friends make installation all the more important. While the proportion of EVs among all cars currently on the road is relatively small, these investments are geared toward our future goals of more clean, efficient transportation options as demand increases.

Don’t hesitate to contact me with your feedback and ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance. It’s an honor to represent you. Happy Thanksgiving!


Rob Ecklund
State Representative