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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michelle (Shelly) Christensen (DFL)

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Happy 50th Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Rep. Christensen

Dear Neighbors, 

These continue to be difficult times, and the recent cancellation of Lumberjack Days and other summer events underscores the continued need for us to alter our way of life during this pandemic. Though these events bind our community, so does our shared effort in slowing the spread of COVID-19 so that our neighbors can stay healthy. Our efforts are working, but more time is needed to prepare for the peak of the virus in our state. We’ve stepped up in a major way, and because of our actions Minnesota has become a leader in “flattening the curve.” I empathize with the desire to reopen businesses and get back to normal, but we can only do so when the science is on our side. We can’t afford to lose the progress we’ve made over the past month. 

Here’s an update on our work in the Minnesota Legislature, and the resources available to our community: 

Earth Day

50th Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! This year marks the 50th Earth Day, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate in the warmer weather than getting outside and taking advantage of Governor Walz’s recent executive order on outdoor activities.

Under Executive Order 20-38, facilities that may reopen or remain open include:

  • Bait shops for live bait

  • Outdoor shooting ranges and game farms

  • Public and private parks and trails

  • Golf courses and driving ranges

  • Boating and off-highway vehicle services, including:

    • Marina services

    • Dock installation and other lake services

    • Boat and off-highway vehicle sales and repair, by appointment only 

Campgrounds and dispersed camping, outdoor recreational equipment retail stores, recreational equipment rental, charter boats, launches, and guided fishing remain closed.

It is recommended that Minnesotans continue to take part in outdoor activities close to their primary residence. By doing so, this will protect Minnesotans from spreading COVID-19 and will also limit pressure on rural medical facilities and essential supplies. 

Also, some of my fellow members of the House Climate Action Caucus sat down with Vice President Mondale to mark the occasion, which you can listen to here


Our Work in the Minnesota House

Last week, the Minnesota House met to pass legislation and debate necessary actions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. In adherence to recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health, and in order to properly protect our staff and other members, most legislators conducted their work remotely, or while practicing social distancing on the House floor.

One of the bills we passed was the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which ensures that Minnesotans who cannot afford their insulin and are facing an emergency need can access a 30-day supply at their pharmacy for a co-pay of $35. Eligible Minnesotans include those who are uninsured, under-insured, receiving Medicare, and who do not have access to low co-pays. The legislation also streamlines the process by which Minnesotans can access affordable insulin in the long-term. Insulin manufacturers would participate in the program and could be fined up to $3.6 million a year, doubling in the second year, for non-compliance. 

Alec Smith Insulin Act Graphics - House Passage

Other bills passed last week provided flexibility and clarity for state agencies and local governments to operate as efficiently as possible during the pandemic, and another that allowed takeout wine and beer with meals at Minnesota’s restaurants. My colleagues and I will continue to work towards consensus on common sense ways our state and businesses can operate in ways that do not risk the health of Minnesotans. 


Updates to Unemployment Insurance

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced last week week that the agency has fully implemented the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for eligible applications.

Updated Unemployment Info

PEUC was part of the federal CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020. You can find more information on this and other unemployment benefits here. This is the second of three CARES Act programs, which DEED has quickly implemented to help those most in need during the COVID-19 crisis. Approximately 8,000 people have exhausted or will soon exhaust their Minnesota unemployment insurance benefits. With PEUC fully implemented, those individuals will now be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance in addition to the $600 additional compensation payments was implemented earlier this month.

The final component of the CARES Act to be implemented is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which will provide unemployment benefits to self-employed individuals, independent contractors, gig workers, and others who would not normally be eligible for unemployment benefits. DEED expects to have PUA fully operational by the end of April, but is actively encouraging those who think they are eligible for these benefits to apply online now at


Stay Connected

If you have any questions about our work in the legislature or the resources available to our community, feel free to reach out to me at, or leave a voicemail at (651) 296-4244. I look forward to hearing from you. 



Representative Shelly Christensen

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