I continue to work on important issues at the State Capitol during the current special session including the Jobs and Local projects bill, police accountability reform, and our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s an update – my final one this summer (more on this below) – from the Capitol.
Ensuring everyone has access to housing security during these difficult economic times is a critical step to protect Minnesotans’ health. As rent and mortgage payments continue to come due, many Minnesotans are struggling to keep up with them. Federal economic assistance will dry up soon, making situations for families even more difficult.
On Tuesday, Governor Walz announced $100 million worth of investments in housing and homelessness prevention from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These critical dollars will help prevent evictions, prevent homelessness, and maintain housing stability for individuals and families impacted by COVID-19. Minnesotans can begin applying for assistance with local grant administrators in the first part of August. Additional information about grants can be found on the Minnesota Housing website at www.mnhousing.gov.
Earlier this spring during the legislative session, lawmakers delivered $26 million to help give Minnesotans a safe place to go, creating more than 2,100 additional safe spaces statewide. We all count on a place to call home to stay safe and healthy, and even before COVID-19, our state has faced an affordable housing crisis. We must commit to a future where every Minnesotan has access to safe, affordable housing.
One way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while participating in our democracy is to vote from home using an absentee ballot. This will reduce exposure to other voters, election workers, and yourself. You can request an absentee ballot for the upcoming primary and general elections here. The online application tool will ask for an email address and an identification number – either a Minnesota-issued driver’s license, Minnesota ID card, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. You can check your voter registration status here and update it here.
So far 75.1 percent of residents in Ramsey County have responded to the 2020 U.S. Census. This progress is great, but we need to ensure every single member of our community is counted.
If you haven’t yet done so, I encourage you to respond to the 2020 Census as soon as possible. Census data determines how billions of dollars in federal funding is allocated toward priorities like health care, education, public safety, and roads & bridges. It also impacts representation at the local, state, and national levels. As many folks know, Minnesota’s population trends put us on the cusp of losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and a reduction from eight to seven would result in diminished influence for our state in Washington.
You can respond to the Census online here, by phone, or by mail. Responding in one of these ways means fewer census workers will need to go door to door, reducing potential community transmission of COVID-19. Please spread the word! Share this link with your family, friends, and on your social media channels. It’s up to all of us to ensure this process results in a fair, comprehensive count of everybody in our state.
Even though we are still in special session and my work for you continues, this will be my last e-mail update until after November’s election. Legislators – whether seeking reelection or not – cannot send communications like these using state resources after this week unless the rule changes regarding our special sessions. Still, I encourage you to keep in touch with me throughout the summer and fall by emailing or calling me with your input on issues important to you, or if I can be of assistance in any way. Also, I’ll be posting updates to my Facebook page, and I encourage you to “like” or “follow” it if you don’t already.
These are difficult times for all of us. I encourage you to take care of yourselves, your family, and your neighbors. We all have a big role to play in stopping the spread of this virus, so please continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask around others, and stay home when you’re sick. I’m confident we can overcome these challenges, together.
It’s an honor to represent you at the Capitol.