This week, my colleagues and I passed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which is named after a young man who lost his life because he couldn’t afford insulin. This legislation will help thousands of Minnesotans get the insulin they need at a price they can afford. It allows people in urgent need of insulin to access an emergency supply at their pharmacy and includes measures to help those who need long-term assistance. More information is available here.
COVID-19 Response Legislation
We also approved a bill that provides needed flexibility and assistance to Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows local governments to meet remotely, suspends certain deadlines and expiration dates, expands use of telemedicine, allows the Minnesota Department of Health to set up alternative health care facilities, and more. Details are available here.
If you’d like to read more about Minnesota’s response to COVID-19, the White Bear Press published a column I wrote about it here.
Additional Unemployment Benefits
Minnesotans who are eligible for unemployment benefits will now receive an additional $600 per week thanks to federal legislation. If you’re already receiving unemployment benefits, you’ll automatically receive the additional payment for every week you remain eligible. You can find more information about these additional payments here.
Energy Assistance Available
Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP) is stepping up to assist those who are struggling. This program helps renters and homeowners pay for heating costs with grants that range from $200 to $1,400 based on household size, income, and fuel cost. Additional funds are available to help Minnesotans settle past due bills, get emergency fuel deliveries, and have furnaces repaired or replaced.
Due to COVID-19, EAP’s eligibility requirements and application deadline have changed so more Minnesotans will qualify for assistance. You can find more information about the program here.
Grants for Veterans
Minnesota veterans and their families deserve support during these challenging times. We recently passed a bill that included $6.2 million for grants to help veterans or their surviving spouses who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) began accepting applications for these grants last week.
To apply, contact your local County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) or MDVA Field Operations Representative. You can find a CVSO near you here, and MDVA Field Operations Representatives can be reached at FO.MDVA@state.mn.us. More information about the grants is available here.
New AmeriCorps Program
The Minnesota AmeriCorps Emergency Response Initiative, a new program that will start in early June, will provide opportunities for 200 people to serve their communities in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Starting in June, these AmeriCorps members will help schools, non-profits, and government agencies address food insecurity, facilitate distance learning, assist older adults, support our health care system, and more. If you know an organization that would benefit from hosting an AmeriCorps member this summer, please encourage them to apply here by April 22.
Be Counted in the 2020 Census
By now, you should’ve received a postcard with instructions on how to be counted in the 2020 Census. If you haven’t responded yet, please take a few minutes to do so here. Your response will help Minnesota receive our fair share of federal funding for schools, hospitals, roads and bridges, and other services we all rely on.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance during this challenging time. You can get in touch with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-3018.