I hope this email finds you and your family well on the final day of winter! It’s been another busy week at the Capitol as we work to help Minnesotans rebound from COVID-19, including our work to assemble a new two-year state budget designed to help Minnesotans weather this pandemic and thrive beyond it.
Protecting Domestic Violence Survivors
Last night, the House unanimously passed the Uniform Enforcement of Canadian Orders for Protection Act, my bill to expand Minnesota’s recognition of foreign orders for protection to include those issued in Canada. When the border is open, many people travel freely between Minnesota and Canada, and this bill will be a tool to help keep people safe no matter where they happen to be. Currently, Minnesota recognizes and enforces orders issued by other states and tribal governments. Several Canadian provinces already recognize Minnesota’s protection orders.
Minnesota has consistently been a leader in standing up for domestic violence survivors, and the Uniform Enforcement of Canadian Orders for Protection Act is another example of our commitment to protecting those who have experienced trauma.
Standing Against Hate
Our nation is still reeling from the shooting deaths of eight people in the Atlanta area this week. Everyone deserves to be safe from gun violence, and on top of that, we’ve seen a growing amount of hatred toward our Asian American neighbors over the past year. This is unacceptable, and we all must reject xenophobia, discrimination, and bias against members of our community. Please take a few moments to listen to these powerful words from my colleague Rep. Tou Xiong of Maplewood, who chairs the Minnesota Asian Pacific Caucus in the Legislature.
Helping Small Businesses Recover
Over the past year, many of our small businesses have been devastated as a result of the pandemic through no fault of their own. To help keep businesses afloat and employees on the job, the federal government offered Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Lawmakers are working to conform state tax law to federal tax law to help ensure businesses that have already been struggling aren’t hit with an unexpected tax bill. I am a co-author of HF 501, a bill that would provide state conformity to the federal tax rules and exempt these loans from taxation.
It is also important to note that approximately 68% percent of PPP loans went to businesses who operated at a loss in 2020, and those businesses would not receive any benefit in 2020 from federal conformity. These businesses include the local restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and entertainment venues harmed the most by the pandemic. Businesses that did not receive PPP loans would see no benefit, nor would unemployment insurance recipients.
Be assured that my DFL House colleagues and I are taking a comprehensive approach to helping businesses and families who need help the most. This includes conformity to those businesses who received the PPP loans; assistance to businesses who received a loan but saw no income this year; help to businesses who did not receive PPP loans; and tax cuts to workers who lost their jobs and received federal taxable unemployment insurance. Legislative actions on these priorities will be forthcoming as we move through the session.
This tax filing season, please visit the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s website with information on their resources, including COVID-19 relief available for businesses, and sign up for updates.
This week, Minnesota surpassed 2 million vaccines. Overall, the pace of vaccine distribution continues to increase. While it took more than two months for the state to administer the first million doses, it took less than one month to administer the second million doses. If you haven’t done so yet, please sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector to be connected with vaccine opportunities when you are eligible. In some cases, your employer will have more information on vaccine availability, and it’s a good idea to be in touch with your health care provider too.
Despite the progress we’ve made and more providers coming on board to offer the vaccine, the supply available is still limited. Additionally, we need to remain vigilant against the spread of the virus, particularly as new, more contagious variants emerge. In the meantime, continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and get a test if you think you need one. We’re coming closer to defeating this pandemic, but it will take a bit more time and everyone doing their part to keep our community safe.
Stay in Touch
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Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.