I hope you are finding some enjoyment this summer, while also staying safe and healthy. At the State Capitol, we’re still working to help Minnesotans navigate challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other solutions to ensure our state works better for everyone. Here’s an update from Saint Paul.
Monday the House and Senate convened in a special session called by Governor Walz. The governor has extended the current peacetime emergency so he can continue to access the state’s toolbox and take quick, decisive action to protect Minnesotans through the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is also some unfinished business for lawmakers to tackle from both the regular session and the recent special session. Our Jobs and Local Projects bill – often referred to as the bonding bill – includes investments in infrastructure such as clean water, affordable housing, sturdy roads, and safe communities. It will also create good-paying jobs at a time when every opportunity counts to help our economy rebound.
Criminal justice and police accountability reform also remain at the forefront. The murder of George Floyd should have never happened, and we all need to recognize our state’s persistent racial inequities and develop a way forward. This is a pivotal time, and we need to work together on solutions – like those included in the House’s Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020 – to ensure all Minnesotans can be safe in their communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be unpredictable, and we must be both vigilant in addressing the public health threat and ensuring individuals and businesses can receive the support they need. As just a few examples, we’re working on solutions to support disability service providers and help for dental providers to access personal protective equipment.
Finally, small businesses in Minneapolis and Saint Paul damaged during the recent civil unrest – many of which are minority and immigrant-owned – deserve the opportunity to rebuild. The impacted neighborhoods are strong cultural and economic centers in our region, and their vitality is critical to our shared success as Minnesotans.
These issues are deeply important, and I’m committed to working together to get this work done.
I recognize that distance learning was a challenge for families across the state. As we work to keep everybody safe during the pandemic, we also need to do everything we can to ensure our students receive the quality education they deserve. Planning is currently underway for our schools, and community input is key to ensuring everyone’s needs are met.
Mounds View Public Schools is currently asking parents to take a survey to share their input. You can access the survey here, and the deadline to complete it is this Friday.
Childcare providers are critical to our communities, and in recent years many of them have been facing enormous challenges. During the pandemic they have stepped up to make even greater sacrifices, including significant costs due to decreasing group sizes and the cleaning, staffing, and workflow changes needed to keep children healthy and safe. Last week, Governor Walz announced a plan to deliver $56.6 million to support Minnesota childcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will help childcare providers keep their doors open so parents can work and young Minnesotans can continue receiving the high-quality care and learning that they deserve. Families seeking care can call the Child Care Aware parent line at 1.888.291.9811 or visit mn.gov/childcare for a map of open providers.
The governor has also announced an investment of $12 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to combat hunger in Minnesota amid COVID-19. This funding will support approximately 300 food shelves and all seven food banks across Minnesota. About 300,000 Minnesotans have visited food shelves each month since the pandemic began, representing approximately a 30 percent increase over typical visits. Information about food assistance resources is available on the state’s food emergency webpage.
I had an opportunity to volunteer at a food distribution center in June, and the needs of people right now are urgent.
Please continue to reach out to me with your feedback, ideas, and questions. I also invite you to like or follow my Facebook page if you haven’t already done so. It’s an honor to represent you at the Capitol.