I hope you’re enjoying the beautiful spring weather! I’ve spent most of the week working remotely or at the Capitol. Legislators are working day and night to develop a new state budget, and I’m doing all I can to ensure the final product meets our community’s needs and makes Minnesota a stronger and more equitable state.
Protecting Minnesotans from Harmful Chemicals
One of the issues I’ve been working on this year is protecting Minnesotans from toxic chemicals known as PFAS. PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are often called “forever chemicals” because they build up in our environment and in our bodies instead of breaking down. At certain levels, they can cause serious health issues. Unfortunately, PFAS contamination is widespread. The chemicals have polluted lakes, rivers, and drinking water in Minnesota and across the nation. A recent study even found PFAS in breast milk.
To protect Minnesotans from these chemicals, I introduced legislation that prohibits using PFAS in food packaging. My bill would help prevent PFAS exposure and disrupt the cycle of products made with PFAS that end up in landfills, a common source of groundwater contamination. It was part of the strong Environment and Natural Resources budget that we passed in the House. As a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Conference Committee, I’m fighting for it to be enacted into law.
Statewide Mask Requirement Ends
Yesterday, the CDC released new guidance indicating that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most situations. In response, Gov. Walz announced the end of the statewide mask requirement. Starting today, Minnesotans aren’t required to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status.
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the final dose of the vaccine. While it’s not required, health officials strongly recommend wearing a mask until then. They also suggest wearing masks in health care facilities, on public transportation, and in similarly crowded settings whether you’re vaccinated or not. Some places, including private businesses, may choose to continue requiring masks. Since Minnesotans under 12 aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet, masks will still be required in schools and child care settings.
State and Local Aid Headed to Minnesota
Thanks to the American Rescue Plan that Congress and President Biden approved earlier this year, Minnesota is set to receive nearly $5 billion in aid. The state will receive $2.8 billion – about $200 million more than expected – and local governments will get $2.1 billion. While some of the aid is intended for specific purposes like rental assistance and small business loans, the rest can be used in a variety of ways. This flexibility will allow governments to work together and meet the unique needs of people and communities across Minnesota. I’ll keep you updated as we receive more information about these funds and how they’ll be used to support Minnesotans.
REAL ID Deadline Extended
The federal government recently extended the deadline to obtain a REAL ID from this coming October to May 3, 2023. Minnesotans will have 18 more months to get the updated form of identification, and the additional time will relieve some of the pressure on local Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) offices that have been overwhelmed with requests to renew expired driver’s licenses and vehicle registration tabs.
Minnesotans will need a REAL ID to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities after May 3, 2023. An enhanced driver’s license or ID card, passport, or passport card will be acceptable substitutes. You can find more information about REAL ID at dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/real-id.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or feedback or if I can be of assistance. It’s an honor to serve you in the Legislature.