Earlier today, Governor Walz announced that a new tool is available to help Minnesotans find out when, where, and how to get their COVID-19 vaccine. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, I encourage you to check out the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector. It will let you know when you’re eligible to receive a vaccine, connect you to resources to schedule a vaccine appointment, and notify you if there are vaccine opportunities in your area. Signing up for the Vaccine Connector is free and easy, and you don’t need insurance or identification. You can sign up at mn.gov/vaccineconnector. If you aren’t able to sign up online, you can call 833-431-2053 to sign up over the phone.
My bill to expand access to child care for children with disabilities received a public hearing in the Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee this morning. The bill would provide grants to counties and tribes to help child care providers obtain the resources and training they need to serve kids with disabilities and complex medical needs. Children with disabilities deserve high-quality care, and my bill would help make that happen.
My bill to provide critical funding for Minnesota Public Radio also received a public hearing this week. The funding – which would come from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund – will help MPR create artistic, musical, historical, and cultural programs and events and document our state’s rich history.
Report on MPCA Oversight Released
The Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released its Special Review on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)’s regulation and oversight of Water Gremlin last Thursday. The Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee, of which I am the Vice Chair, held a presentation on the report later that day. You can watch the entire committee hearing here.
The OLA’s review indicated that the MPCA didn’t inspect Water Gremlin’s facility and air pollution equipment as often as they should have or make full use of self-reported emissions information. The MPCA didn’t act on the company’s initial permit application in a timely manner, and their 2002 permit amendment didn’t effectively limit Water Gremlin’s use of a hazardous chemical.
These findings highlight the need for stronger measures to protect Minnesotans from harmful chemicals. Last year, my colleagues and I introduced an ambitious package of legislation to ensure polluters are quickly identified and held accountable. It included bills that would require more frequent and rigorous testing, expand reporting requirements, clarify the MPCA’s authority and responsibilities, and provide state agencies with additional investigators and other tools to make sure businesses are acting responsibly. Several of the bills have been reintroduced and are advancing this session with my support.
Recognizing Black History Month
Black History Month is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions Black Americans have made to our community, our state, and our nation. This February, I encourage you to check out the collections on MPR’s Archive Portal and the free resources, events, and information on the Minnesota Historical Society’s Black History, Black Voices webpage. Reflecting on the past should spur us all to keep fighting for justice and equality year round. We must stand together to address racial inequality and ensure all Minnesotans have the opportunity to succeed and thrive.
If you have any questions or comments about my work, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 651-296-3018. I look forward to hearing from you.