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This is a big week at the Capitol, as we discussed most of our supplemental budget. Among the bills we have already approved fund Housing, Agriculture and Broadband, State Government, Pensions and Transportation, Education, and Higher Education. As this update is sent, we are debating the Public Safety legislation. Several budget areas remain and will be discussed over the next week.
As vice-chair of the Early Childhood committee, I’ve had a front row seat to the important improvements our budget invests in our earliest learners. Early learning begins well before kindergarten, and House DFLers want all children to have access to high-quality learning to close opportunity gaps and set them up for success now and later in their lives. I support our plan to provide early learning scholarships, and establish a statewide voluntary preschool program, for thousands of low-income and vulnerable young kids. We must use the historic surplus to fund our public schools, help our youngest learners and prepare all our students for a bright future.
You can read more about the Education budget here.
Our budget invests in Minnesotans, looks to the future, and makes sure Minnesota is a place where everyone can succeed and thrive.
Frontline Pay Approved
Yesterday, House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement on the frontline worker bill. House DFLers fought to acknowledge the sacrifice of those who risked their health and safety during the pandemic. Despite opposition from Senate Republicans, we prevailed. As many as 667,000 workers will receive a $750 bonus. The House and Senate each approved the legislation, and it will head to Gov. Walz for his signature.
At the same time, we are reimbursing the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to the level it was prior to the pandemic, averting an increase in taxes for our businesses.
Governor’s State of the State Address
On Sunday, Governor Walz delivered his 4th State of the State address in the House of Representatives chamber. Governor Walz was optimistic about our future and determined to work with the legislature to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. If you missed the speech, you can watch a rebroadcast here.
Avian Influenza Update
Cases of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI/H5N1) continue to show up in various Minnesota locations. The Raptor Center in St. Paul recommends removing bird feeders for now. For those who raise backyard chickens, keep the birds enclosed and separated from wildlife. Place mesh or tarps on the outside of the coop. Keep a lookout for any deceased birds or those in need of help – don’t touch the bird. Call the DNR, Raptor Center, or a new HPAI hotline at 1-833-454-0156 first for next steps.
The FDA has authorized a second booster shot for Americans over 50 and for those 12 years and older who are immunocompromised. You can read more from the U of M Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) recommendations here. If you have symptoms, have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, after traveling, or if you’ve attended a high-risk event, please get tested to slow the spread of COVID-19. You can order free rapid at-home tests from the federal government at CovidTests.gov and from the state at mn.gov/covid19.
Stay connected with the legislature
The Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services offers nonpartisan recaps of high-profile bills, committee hearings, and floor sessions with their Session Daily publication. Subscribe to receive these here. To track bills of interest through the legislative process, I encourage you to utilize the MyBills feature on the Minnesota House of Representatives’ website here.
Please continue to reach out with any input, ideas, or feedback about the issues important to you. I value hearing from you, so please don’t hesitate to call or email me any time. You can also connect with me on Facebook here. It’s an honor to represent you at the State Capitol.