Today, Governor Walz called the Legislature back for a second special session. The Governor is required to call these special sessions because Minnesota law requires the Legislature to meet every 30 days when there is an ongoing peacetime emergency. This peacetime emergency is due to the pandemic our communities continue to struggle with.
During the June special session, we passed meaningful police accountability legislation off the House floor, but Senate Republicans walked away from negotiations. We now have another opportunity to get this done. The other top priorities this session are ensuring Minnesotans have the resources they need to make it through the pandemic and passing a strong Jobs and Local Projects Bill (the bonding bill).
I hope you and your family have been able to spend some time outside. I planted our first pollinator garden this year, including these big sunflowers!
New Laws Take Effect
Several new laws took effect at the beginning of July, including the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act. This legislation provides emergency access to insulin and makes the lifesaving medication more affordable long-term. The Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, which requires drug manufacturers to make their pricing information public, also went into effect recently. Together, these new laws will help lower the cost of prescription drugs. More information about these laws and others that took effect on July 1 can be found here.
Aid for Local Governments
Governor Walz recently unveiled a plan to distribute $841 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to Minnesota’s counties, cities, and towns. His plan utilizes the per capita formula that legislators developed during the special session. Based on that formula, Roseville will receive $2.7 million, Shoreview will receive $1.9 million, Vadnais Heights will receive $994,341, Little Canada will receive $782,484, and Gem Lake will receive $34,204. These funds, which will be distributed on a rolling basis, will help our local governments to continue providing the services Minnesotans count on.
Support for Child Care
Last week, Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan announced that $56 million of federal funding will be allocated to support Minnesota’s child care providers. Many providers are experiencing increased costs and decreased revenue as a result of COVID-19. The Legislature delivered $30 million in emergency grants and increased rates for child care assistance, but more funding is needed to preserve our state’s family providers and child care centers. The new federal funding will help child care providers keep their doors open so parents can work and children can continue receiving the high-quality care and learning that they deserve.
Funding to Combat Hunger
$12 million of the funding our state received from the federal CARES Act will be used to combat hunger in Minnesota. Food shelves and food banks have seen a significant increase in demand since the pandemic began. The federal funding will help approximately 300 food shelves and Minnesota’s seven food banks meet that need.
On a related note, the deadline to apply for pandemic food benefits has been extended to July 31. More than 200,000 families have already applied for or received Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits, which help parents and guardians feed their children when they aren’t receiving school lunches. Families with children who received free or reduced-price school meals this year may receive up to $325 per child plus an additional $100 per child in August. You can learn more about P-EBT and apply here. Additional information about food assistance can be found here.
AIS Identification Guide
You can help protect Minnesota’s environment and native species by keeping an eye out for aquatic invasive species (AIS) when spending time on the water. I encourage you to download a copy of the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center’s identification guide here. This book can help folks identify a number of high-risk species and common lookalikes. If you do spot an AIS, please be sure to contact a DNR AIS Specialist. Their contact information can be found here.
Tax Resources Available
This Wednesday, July 15 is the final day to file 2019 state and federal income tax returns. I want to remind you that many Minnesotans are eligible to file electronically for free. You can find out if you qualify here. If you need help filing, you can contact the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s taxpayer contact center at 651-296-3781.
I recently held a virtual town hall meeting with Rep. Kelly Moller and Sen. Jason Isaacson. Thank you to everyone who sent in their questions and tuned in! If you missed the town hall live, it’s available here thanks to CTV North Suburbs.
If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know. You can contact me at email@example.com or 651-296-7153. It’s an honor to represent you, and I appreciate your input.