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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Tou Xiong (DFL)

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Black History Month

Friday, February 05, 2021

Dear Neighbors,

This week is the beginning of Black History Month, a month where we focus on the history of Black Americans so that we can better understand the events of today. It is clear that while we have come far in our fight for equity and justice for all, we have not come nearly far enough. We are approaching the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, and while we are awaiting the results of the trial, can we confidently say that an event like that won’t happen again? This pandemic has also revealed the continued disparities throughout our state, for instance the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reports that an estimated one in two Black workers in Minnesota have applied for unemployment since mid-March compared with one in four white workers. For an illuminating look at the disparities in our state I encourage you to read the House Select Committee on Racial Justice’s report on racial justice in MN, here. I also encourage you to read the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus’ statement on Black History Month.

Paid sick and safe

No one should have to choose between caring for themselves or a loved one and a paycheck. That’s why the House DFL introduced a new bill to expand Earned Sick and Safe Time. The bill aims to provide an important short-term benefit to workers by allowing them to accrue sick time based on the number of hours that they work. The impossible choice between a paycheck and taking time off to care for a sick child is a real problem in Minnesota, especially for low-wage workers and those in the service industry. This requirement has several key additional benefits, including healthier workplaces and schools, greater support for caregivers, and reduced health care costs. I will continue to support this critical legislation.

Earned Sick and Safe Time

Adult-Use Cannabis

This week we introduced a strong adult-use cannabis bill that will end the destructive prohibition of cannabis. Minnesotans across the state are ready for us to implement a safe, just, and responsible system around adult-use cannabis. By legalizing and safely regulating adult-use cannabis we can expunge cannabis related charges that have exacerbated our already terrible racial disparities. I believe that Minnesota has what it takes to create the best adult-use cannabis laws in the country. You can watch our full press conference on this here.

cannabis

Governor’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget

Last Week, Governor Walz announced his two-year budget proposal, aimed at supporting small businesses that will drive our economic recovery, ensuring students can catch up on learning opportunities lost over the past year, and supporting working families struggling during this crisis. 

We cannot cut our way through this challenge. In order to ensure a bright future for all Minnesotans as our state recovers from the pandemic, we need to make strategic investments in education, health care, and our economy while balancing the budget. That’s why Governor Walz and Democrats want big corporations and the wealthiest Minnesotans to pay their fair share so our students, families, and small businesses are able to make it out of this pandemic.

Recovery Budget

Conversation with Minnesota Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans

The Minnesota Asian Pacific Caucus and I will have a conversation with the Minnesota Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans regarding the 2021 legislative session. This conversation will take place on Thursday, February 11, 2021 from 12:00 P.M. to 1:00 P.M., and will be held online via WebEx and streamed on the Council’s Facebook page. To learn more about this event and follow the latest updates, please go to our Facebook event page.

Low Income Energy Assistance Program (EAP)

As Minnesotans continue to feel the impact of COVID-19 and the quarantine, we want everyone to know that there is still assistance available to income eligible households (both owners and renters) for home heating bills and furnace repairs. The Energy Assistance Program can help by providing financial assistance:

  • To pay past due energy bills to avoid disconnection
  • To purchase fuel for delivery in emergencies
  • To repair or replace homeowners’ malfunctioning furnaces.

The application period is open until May 31st, 2021. Here are flyers in English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong:

MN Energy Assistance Flyer - English

MN Energy Assistance Flyer - Spanish

MN Energy Assistance Flyer - Somali

MN Energy Assistance Flyer - Hmong

You can find more information and links to apply at the  Minnesota Department of Commerce website.

COVID-19 Update

The Biden Administration announced that they will increase the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped to states by 16 percent over current levels for at least the next three weeks. Minnesota is expected to receive nearly 11,000 additional doses each week under the new allocation.

The announcement comes after requests from Governor Walz and other Midwestern governors for more vaccines to be distributed by the federal government. This week, the Centers for Disease Control allocated less than 70,000 doses to Minnesota, an insufficient amount to vaccinate priority populations including healthcare workers, long-term care residents, and Minnesotans 65 years of age and older.

We have seen extraordinary demand for the vaccine in Minnesota, and we are working with a variety of providers to create a strong network of choices for Minnesotans when it’s time to get their vaccine. Every dose Minnesota receives puts us one step closer to crushing COVID-19, which is why we need to move quickly. For months, the Governor urged the CDC and the White House to get Minnesota more doses. It’s good news that they’re finally listening. The fact is, we still need more doses. Now, the federal government needs to provide even more vaccines. For up to date vaccination information follow the COVID-19 vaccination dashboard.

Stay In Touch

If you have any questions about the virus, please feel free to reach out to my office at rep.tou.xiong@house.mn or 651-296-7807. You can also follow me on facebook

Keep your comments, questions and concerns coming! I always enjoy hearing from you. 

Sincerely,

Rep. Tou Xiong