Since the unrest that devastated neighborhoods after the murder of George Floyd, we’ve been fighting for resources to help impacted communities rebuild. It’s been an uphill battle, but slowly and surely we’ve been able to secure tools to help impacted neighborhoods in Minneapolis pick up the pieces - the latest of which being the Main Street Redevelopment Grant.
The Minneapolis Foundation, in partnership with LISC Twin Cities and Propel Nonprofits, announced yesterday the launch of a new grant opportunity to support small business recovery and rebuilding in three of the business corridors of Lake St., 38th St. and Chicago Ave. in South Minneapolis, and West Broadway Ave. in North Minneapolis.
The Foundation is now accepting pre-applications for Main Street grants. Prospective applicants can review detailed grant guidelines and eligibility information here.
Here’s the latest on our work in St. Paul:
Legislative committees set deadlines during session by which point bills need to have had a hearing in order to have a realistic chance of becoming law. This typically results in a very busy schedule for members, with back-to-back bill hearings in multiple committees, and I was no exception. Here are a few key pieces of legislation I’ve been working on, that you can read more about:
Standing with Ukraine
The past month has been full of harrowing images from Ukraine as Russia continues their violent invasion. In what has been a conflict of ever-growing atrocities, my heart goes out to the Ukrainian people, including the 17,000 Ukrainian-Americans who call Minnesota home.
In a broadly bipartisan move, legislators representing the four main caucuses in the Minnesota Legislature introduced a bill to divest Minnesota’s state pension fund from Russia and codify Governor Walz’s Executive Order barring the state from contracting with Russian companies. I’m happy to share it passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.
Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, the estimated worth of Minnesota's state pension fund investments in Russia was approximately $53 million, and it is now estimated to be below $10 million. The legislation will also sanction Belarus for its complicity in the Russian invasion.
Passing this bill is the right thing to do, and in joining numerous other democracies in a similar action, Minnesota is standing with Ukraine and adding to the international pressure that will hopefully soon lead to peace.
You can read more about this legislation here.
Supporting Minnesota Workers
On Monday, we passed several pro-worker bills on the House floor, including legislation to implement Earned Sick & Safe Time for Minnesota workers, make our warehouses safer, and ratify the 2020-21 public employee labor contracts.
Our warehouse legislation would protect and empower Minnesota’s warehouse workers and address practices that have led to high injury rates at Amazon facilities. No one should be at risk for injury in the workplace. This measure holds large corporations accountable and impels them to create and maintain a safe environment for every worker.
Thousands of Minnesota workers, including two-thirds of workers in the lowest wage positions, lack access to paid time off. Our Earned Sick & Safe Time bill would ensure one hour of paid time for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours per year, and could be used to attend to physical and mental health needs for workers and their family members. Every Minnesotans deserves to care for themselves or a loved one without risking a paycheck.
COVID-19 Tests & Boosters
This week, the FDA authorized a second booster shot for Americans over 50 and for those 12 years and older who are immunocompromised. Following the FDA’s announcement, the CDC expanded eligibility for an additional booster dose for certain higher risk individuals. Second boosters for all Americans will be evaluated. You can read more from the U of M Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) here.
Considering dropping COVID-19 numbers, Minnesota is changing its testing strategy and gradually moving away from saliva tests toward rapid at-home tests. Minnesota households are now eligible to receive two test kits (for a total of four tests) per home through the mail at mn.gov/covid19. Minnesota has secured 500,000 test kits (for a total of 1 million at-home tests) and the program will be available until all the test kits are ordered. You can also order free rapid at-home tests at CovidTests.gov.
With the lessons we’ve learned over the last two years, Minnesota is well-positioned to respond effectively if case counts tick upward again. While we all hope to avoid another wave, testing continues to be important for preventing the spread of the virus. Getting a test is still recommended if you:
have symptoms of the virus.
have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
are returning from international or domestic travel.
attended a high-risk event.
work in a setting that has regular, close contact with many people
With the session halfway done, things are ramping up for our legislative work. The State Office Building is now open to the public on Mondays, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the Capitol Building continues to be open as well. If you have any questions about our work, or are looking to set up an in-person meeting, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4110. I look forward to hearing from you!