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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jeff Brand (DFL)

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Legislative Update - May 8, 2020

Friday, May 08, 2020

Rep. Brand

Dear Neighbors, 

We’re in the final stretch of the normal legislative session, and there’s still much to do to make sure Minnesota has the resources it needs to weather the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact on our community. Minnesotans have been resilient and determined during these unprecedented times, and today’s news on the banning of large, in-person graduation ceremonies is part of a long line of tough but necessary measures. With Minnesotans sacrificing so much, they deserve a state government that fights for them. 

My colleagues and I in the Minnesota House have passed several bills this week, all of which put the people of our state first. We’ll continue to meet on a daily basis as we near our May 18 adjournment date. In the meantime, I hope you’ll reach out to share how the pandemic has impacted you. We’re in this together, and we’re going to bounce back, together. 

Tomorrow, we’ll be taking up legislation providing additional funds for the Minnesota Family Investment Program, increasing the legal age of tobacco use to 21, mandating more transparency in drug pricing, and more. You can watch tomorrow’s floor debate live at 1:30 PM.

Here’s an update on some of our recent legislation: 

 

Economic Relief Package

Yesterday, I voted in the Minnesota House for a package of legislation that combined several bills aimed at delivering economic security to the hardest hit by COVID-19. Many in our community faced struggles long before this pandemic, and those issues have only been compounded by the virus. The bill we passed contains provisions for housing assistance, a temporary wage increase for personal care assistants (PCA), funding to expand broadband access, and small business loans.

House Economic Agenda

For many, it’s difficult to shelter in place when facing housing insecurity, or work and study from home without proper broadband - you’ll see measures to address that in this bill. The PCAs that look after our most vulnerable have needed raises for a long time, and the least we can do is increase their wages while we deal with COVID-19. We all want the day where our local businesses can fully open up again, but that’s not going to be as easy as flipping a switch. Our small businesses need help in the meantime, and this bill delivers it to them.

 

Safe and Secure Elections

We knew measures needed to be taken to protect our elections well before COVID-19, and now the pandemic has created a necessity to ensure that our elections are not only secure, but that they are also safe. Whether it’s the threat of foreign influence, or the potential of voters and staff catching a virus, we need to be smart about how we approach this year’s elections.

HAVA Bill

In the House, we’re making use of federal dollars to prepare for increased absentee voting, new polling place locations, the purchase of sanitation and disinfectant supplies, and public outreach for implementing social distancing guidelines related to voting. This is in addition to updating our elections security and accessibility. 

 

Supporting Our Schools’ Hourly Workers

As we work to support the economic security of Minnesotans, it’s important we don’t leave anyone behind, especially those that continue to work incredibly hard for Minnesota’s students. Our schools’ hourly employees remain crucial to the success of our students, even more so during COVID-19. Our bill in the House delivers the economic security and clarity they deserve.

Hourly School Workers - No Date

The legislation also creates and legislatively approves certain waivers of state law regarding assessments, graduation and course requirements, and potential licensure issues faced by prospective and current teachers. It’s important that students and educators aren’t punished for circumstances beyond their control. 

 

Stay In Touch

Things will continue to move quickly over the next week. Be sure to follow along on my Facebook page as well as the House Public Information website for the latest on our work. Also be sure to visit the state’s COVID-19 informational dashboard for the latest accurate news and data on the virus. 

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me at rep.jeff.brand@house.mn or (651) 296-8634. It’s an honor to represent you in the Minnesota House, and I appreciate your input. 

Your Partner in St. Paul, 

 

Jeff Brand

State Representative, District 19A