We continue to be incredibly busy at the Legislature and will be voting on our last omnibus budget bill today before the conference committee process starts. Below you will find summaries of many of the omnibus bills we have already passed in the House.
I also want to remind you that vaccine access in Ramsey County has increased a lot in the past few weeks, and all Minnesotans age 16 and older are now eligible. Find appointments and locations here.
Budget Bills Passed
We are entering the final weeks of session so we are passing our comprehensive budget bills (also called omnibus bills) on each legislative topic. These will form the base of our negotiations as we work to craft a budget that works for all Minnesotans. This means we are staying up late on the House floor debating the final amendments before we pass the bills. We have passed most of the omnibus bills for the session and only have a couple left. Here are some highlights:
Environment: We want to protect Minnesota’s environment and natural resources, including the animals, insects, and wildlife that play a critical role in our ecosystems and food supply. Our proposal will help prevent the spread of invasive species and manage threats like chronic wasting disease. It is critical that we maintain our natural resources so our future generations can learn to hunt, harvest, and forage, and have access to clean air and water. This bill also includes provisions that will fund the No Child Left Inside program for the next four years, as well as important environmental justice policies and holding polluters accountable.
My comments on the Environment bill can be viewed here.
Climate & Energy: Climate change is warming Minnesota rapidly, reshaping our entire state and how we interact with it. Our climate omnibus bill sets us on the path to achieve 100% clean energy by 2040 while improving efficiency and emission targets. We have to take action to reduce greenhouse gases and this bill funds these necessary actions.
Public Safety & Judiciary: The past year has proven time after time that our public safety and justice system need deep systemic changes. Our legislation increases accountability for law enforcement while also increasing investments in public safety. Furthermore, it expands justice for survivors of sexual assault and helps to equip communities with the resources for keeping their neighborhoods safe. The bill also focuses on reducing racial bias, decriminalizes poverty, and ensures that every Minnesotan faces equitable treatment under our justice system. I Chair the House Judiciary Committee and we worked hard to ensure that our justice and civil law system is more fair and equitable for everyone. Watch our press conference on this omnibus bill here.
Jobs & Labor: Strong worker protections are integral to the health of our economy, that’s why we put workers first in our Jobs bill. The bill helps families, workers, and small businesses emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes critical investments and protections for Minnesotans’ economic security, like Earned Sick & Safe Time and Paid Family & Medical Leave.
Education: The House DFL is committed to providing every child with a quality world-class education, no matter their race, income or zip code. I am proud of our education budget that increases funding for all students, provides funding for full service community schools, funds programs to increase teachers of color, and so much more. Our budget will take us closer to ensuring every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Transportation: Our transportation budget funds critical transit projects that will help Minnesotans connect with each other throughout the metro and the entire state. We also provide significant funding for our roads and bridges so we can finally catch up on repairing our dangerously aging infrastructure.
Housing: Even before COVID-19 we were in the midst of a housing crisis, with more and more Minnesotans facing housing instability. More than 572,000 Minnesotan households pay more than they can afford for housing, more than 1 in every 4 households in the state. On any given night, over 10,000 Minnesotans experience homelessness, a number that has only grown since 2015, and greatly impacts Black, Indigenous, and Minnesotans of color. Our housing bill funds programs to relieve and prevent homelessness while creating more affordable housing throughout the entire state.
Rent help is now available if you have fallen behind on rent, utilities, or have an upcoming rent payment you won’t be able to make. Please learn more and apply for aid here.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has funds available for Energy Assistance, and the recently approved federal stimulus includes over $100 million for Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program, nearly doubling the amount of support. If you qualify, you could receive significant assistance to help pay your energy bills. Eligible applicants receive an initial grant between $300 and $1,600 for energy expenses and can be eligible for up to $1,200 more to help pay overdue bills, avoid a utility shut off, or get a fuel delivery. There are energy service organizations (CAPs and others) across the state providing energy assistance services. There is a map that denotes these providers across Minnesota. Eligibility is based on income and family size. Individuals need to earn less than $28,266 to qualify, while families of four can earn up to $54,357. You can learn more here.
Virtual Food Drive
The MN House and Senate far surpassed our goal in the Feeding Minnesota Food Drive. COVID-19 resulted in an unprecedented public health and economic crisis, with no community in Minnesota left unaffected. Over the last year, many of our neighbors faced food insecurity for the first time, while those struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic have needed greater assistance to stay afloat. Demand for food assistance skyrocketed.
This fundraiser, driven by Members and Staff in the Minnesota Legislature, will benefit food banks across the state, including Channel One Regional Food Bank, Great Plains Food Bank, North Country Food Bank, Second Harvest Heartland, Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, and Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. Together, these food banks serve Minnesotans in every corner of the state, ensuring food makes it to every community where there is need.
Stay in Touch
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance or if you have questions or feedback that you’d like to share. You can follow me on Facebook here and you can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-7153.