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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL)

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Testing Breakthrough

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

I want to start off today's update with an amazing display of Minnesota Nice. When I received a request for help in securing face masks, I put the word out and, WOW, what a response! To date, I have been able to share much needed protection for over 300 community members. Thank you to all the crafters who so generously donated face masks that I know were sewn with love, concern, and best wishes!

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Governor Walz has deemed this to be MinneSEWta week- drop your handicraft masks off at one of our local fire stations on April 25th for distribution.

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Breakthrough for Testing in Minnesota

Yesterday the Governor announced a new strategy to provide up to 20,000 tests a day, as a result of the hard work and innovation of our Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota research institutions. The goal of this statewide testing strategy is to ensure anybody who is symptomatic, a member of a vulnerable population, or who are on the front lines of combatting this crisis are able to get tested. Increased testing will give us a more robust understanding of the extent to which this disease spread, and provide an opportunity for us to better understand how and when we can safely begin to gradually reopen our state. You can watch the full briefing here.

testing breakthrough

Pay for Hourly School Workers

I have been working with my colleagues on a number of issues that may have flown under your radar. One of the education issues we are working on is ensuring that hourly school employees are paid through this school year. School staff and their families deserve to know if they are going to be paid during this distance learning period. Schools have it in their budget to pay these workers, school districts are receiving the same amount of funds they expected for the school year. We want to support these workers as best as we can with funds that are already available so they don’t have to rely on unemployment insurance like so many others. You can learn more about the bill here.

This bill has just become even more important now that we know that Governor Walz has ordered that schools remain closed for the rest of the year. This is a prudent decision from Governor Walz and will help ensure we flatten the curve. This means that the hourly workers absolutely need our help now. You can watch the press conference where the Governor made this announcement here

Survey Update

A few weeks ago I sent out a survey asking for your thoughts on various issues related to COVID-19. Thank you all for participating in this survey; it helps me immensely when considering what legislation to pursue. If you haven’t completed the survey, and would like to, I encourage you to click on the survey link and participate. Here are the current results of the survey.

  • 91.25% of you think frontline workers should receive workers compensation if they contract COVID-19 while fighting it. I’m proud that we passed this bill. You can read about it here.
  • 75.95% of you think that housing payments should be delayed for those whose income has been greatly affected by COVID-19. The DFL is currently working on a housing support bill that will provide $100 million in housing assistance for folks across Minnesota. This bill is supported by the Governor and the DFL in both the House and the Senate. If this is something you would like to see pass, I encourage you to contact Senate Republican leadership and urge them to take action on this issue.
  • In typical Minnesota fashion, your concerns lie with others first. The top concern for 77.78% of you is the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment for health care workers, followed by economic uncertainty for workers and business owners. Due to a global shortage Minnesota is fighting for every bit of PPE possible, that’s why MinneSEWta week is so important.
  • 76.25% of our community believes that even those without proper documentation should receive unemployment insurance if they would otherwise qualify. I’m glad that so many of you recognize the important role undocumented folks play in our society, and they deserve support in hard times like the rest of us. This is an issue that we will continue to explore further.
  • When it comes to rating how the legislature, the governor, and the federal government have handled the crisis on a scale from 1-10 (1 being the lowest) the results are as follows. The average ratings are 7.6/10 for the legislature, 9.8/10 for the governor, and 2.9/10 for the federal government. We at the legislature recognize that there is room for improvement as the response illustrates in your minds and I will make that a priority as we finish out this session. It is clear to many of you that the federal government is not meeting the Minnesota standards and expectations in managing this crisis, so I will continue to work toward positive solutions as we move through this crisis.

Thank you again to everyone who participated. If you have any additional questions or comments about this survey, please reach out to me.

School Library Media Specialist Day

This past Monday was proclaimed, “School Library Media Specialist Day” by Governor Walz! I was disappointed not to be at the Capitol to celebrate with all my comrades; let’s hope we can celebrate this day next year.  As an SLMS for over 20 years I know how valuable libraries are to our staff and students and that is why I have been working hard to ensure that our schools continue to have licensed Library Media Specialists who provide technology, media literacy, and curriculum connections. During this time of distance learning, our school Library Media Specialists are especially vital in ensuring that our students continue to receive the technology and instruction to get them through to the fall. Be sure to reach out to yours or your community librarians and show your appreciation!  Read the Proclamation here.

P.S. It was also National Kindergarten Day this week. Missing the opportunity to read aloud to students, I made  this video for kinders and their teachers: Watch, “The Day the Crayons Quit” : https://youtu.be/NsgIygZPWGg

Keep In Touch

That's all for now — if you have questions regarding anything else, please reach out at rep.mary.kuneshpodein@house.mn or 651-296-4331.

 

Sincerely,

Mary KP

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