I want to wish all of our educators, students, and parents the best as distance learning begins this week in Minnesota. There isn’t a single tutorial available with all the answers about how to navigate this situation, and I deeply appreciate the work teachers are doing to develop new ways to make sure our students can continue their studies.
Last Thursday, the Minnesota House and Senate gathered to approve a strong package of COVID-19 response legislation. Holding a legislative session practicing social distancing guidelines was a logistical challenge and I want to thank our nonpartisan Chief Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms offices for enabling us to do this important work safely.
With COVID-19 challenging Minnesotans in unthinkable ways, I’m proud that legislators came together on a bipartisan basis to deliver these much-needed investments in our state’s response to the pandemic. The legislation included, among other things, $200 million toward the newly created state COVID-19 Fund, $9 million to the Department of Human Services for food security, $26.5 million for the Emergency Service Grants program to provide shelter for Minnesota’s homeless population, $30 million in one-time grants to child care providers, $10 million for small business loans, financial relief for Minnesota’s workers, and the necessary flexibility for state agencies to respond to the pandemic.
While this bill was a significant step forward there is more to do. My colleagues and I will continue to work on other important measures, including legislation to ensure our first responders can receive workers’ compensation benefits if they become impacted by COVID-19, and to protect pay for hourly school employees, such as educational assistants, bus drivers, and food service workers.
Life as we know it has changed, and the situation will continue to evolve. Along with Minnesotans doing their part by following precautions like staying at home as much as possible, this aid package will be critical to ensuring our state can protect the health, safety, and economic wellbeing of Minnesotans.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in tremendous economic hardship for Minnesotans, many of whom have found themselves displaced from their jobs due to no fault of their own. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has designated certain days for Minnesotans who are applying for Unemployment Insurance benefits for the first time based on the last digit of their social security number. With applications coming in at an unmatched pace, this will ensure displaced workers can get faster, more effective services.
To apply for benefits, please visit UIMN.org.
This Wednesday, April 1 is Census Day. By now, you should have received an invitation in the mail to respond to the census. When you respond, you'll share information about where you live as of April 1, 2020.
The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. Counting every Minnesotan accurately is critical to ensuring our state gets our fair share of federal investments in health care, public safety, education, and billions of dollars of other important resources.
Additionally, the Census Bureau is still hiring people to assist in this monumental effort. In Ramsey County, workers can earn $22 per hour. Click here for more information on available opportunities.
This weekend, the Star Tribune highlighted the difficulty that arises when sexual assaults are alleged to have been committed by police officers. It told the story of a former employee of a sheriff’s office, who reported an assault at the hands of a sergeant in the agency where she worked, and never received justice. I’m carrying legislation to ensure that these investigations are conducted by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which will help ensure the investigation is unbiased and will streamline the process for victims and help track how often these cases occur.
You can read the story here.
For information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the best resource is still the Minnesota Department of Health for up-to-date, accurate information. I also hope community members will continue to reach out to me with questions or if I can be of assistance. My email is email@example.com and phone number is 651-296-0141. My Facebook page is here, and the Minnesota House also has a webpage set up highlighting our legislative work here.
We will get through these difficult times by continuing to care for one another. Be safe, be healthy, and be well.