I hope you and your families are faring well during this difficult time. I know there are many people in our community struggling right now, and we are doing what we can to assist people during this challenging time. My office is here to provide resources and assistance; please reach out if you think we may be able to help. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-7153. Although we are not able to take your calls immediately, my assistant Anna is helping me to check voicemail multiple times a day.
More than ever, I encourage you to spend time outdoors if you are able. I know for my family, the time out in the sunshine and fresh air is good for our bodies and our minds. Even if it is just sitting outside on a balcony or deck, it’s worth it.
Virtual Town Hall – Friday, April 10 at 12 p.m.
I’m holding another virtual town hall this Friday, April 10 at 12 p.m. via Zoom, a free video meeting app. If you haven’t used Zoom before, you’ll need to download the app ahead of time and then click this meeting link when the event begins.
If you have any questions that you’d like me to address during the town hall, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. Priority will be given to questions from constituents, so please include your home address with your email.
Stay at Home Order Extended
Today, Governor Walz announced that he is extending the stay at home order, which was set to expire this Friday. The stay at home order will remain in effect until May 4. I know that staying home hasn’t been easy for anyone, but it’s slowing the spread of COVID-19 and allowing the state to continue key preparations that will save lives. Please continue to take it seriously.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Yesterday we passed a bill to ensure that first responders and health care workers are covered by workers’ compensation if they contract COVID-19. The bill establishes a presumption that if these workers contract COVID-19, they did so during the course of their employment and thus are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Firefighters, nurses, home health care workers, child care workers, and others are putting themselves at risk for us every day, so it’s critical that we have their backs. I was disappointed that grocery store workers were not included in this bill at this time, but I am hopeful we can extend protections to them in future legislation.
Discrimination Helpline Now Open
Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan announced the launch of a Discrimination Helpline to reinforce the state’s efforts to protect the civil rights of Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid rising reports of discrimination from the Asian American community, we are working to protect and support Minnesotans who experience or witness bias and discrimination because of their race, ethnicity, disability, or other protected status in their job, housing, or in a public place.
The toll-free helpline will allow those who experience or witness bias and discrimination to report incidents to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights by calling 1-833-454-0148. The helpline is staffed Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Minnesotans who experience or witness bias and discrimination can also report incidents by filling out an online form here.
Grants for Veterans Available
Minnesota veterans and their families need our support during this challenging time. The COVID-19 aid package that we passed included $6.2 million for grants to help veterans or their surviving spouses who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) began accepting applications for these grants on Monday.
I encourage all veterans who may be struggling to contact their local County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) or MDVA Field Operations Representative to apply. You can find your local CVSO here, and MDVA Field Operations Representatives can be reached at FO.MDVA@state.mn.us. You can also apply online here.
Domestic and Sexual Violence Programs Remain Open
Domestic and sexual violence programs will remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are experiencing abuse in your home, you are not alone. Please reach out to someone you trust, call the 24/7 crisis hotline at 1-866-223-1111, or text 612-399-995. Help is available.
Many programs and shelters need critical supplies. If you’re in a position to help, please consider donating to a local program. You can find a domestic violence program near you here.
Maintaining Access to Hunting and Fishing
Last week, I sent a letter to Governor Walz lifting up the importance of maintaining access to hunting and fishing in the coming weeks and months. Hunting and fishing are protected in our State Constitution and play an integral role in providing healthy food for many Minnesotans; they should not be lumped in with other purely recreational activities.
Please know that I’m not advocating for zero restrictions or safety protocols. I’m advocating that we figure out how to hunt and fish safely during this unprecedented time and provide guidance to Minnesotans as soon as possible. The Walz-Flanagan administration has done a great job being thoughtful in their actions, so I expect the same on this issue. You can read the letter that Rep. Fue Lee and I sent here.
Please continue checking on family, friends, and neighbors, particularly those who may be vulnerable or isolated. If I can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me.