On Monday, Governor Walz called the Legislature back for a second special session. My priorities for this special session are fighting for police accountability, investments in public infrastructure, and aid to help Minneapolis businesses and communities damaged during civil unrest recover and rebuild.
Yesterday, Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan announced that $100 million in federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will go toward housing assistance. This funding will prevent evictions and homelessness and help Minnesotans who are struggling to afford their homes because of the pandemic. Minnesotans will be able to apply for assistance in August. The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency is currently accepting applications from local organizations who’d like to help administer the new program. You can find more information here.
Last week, the governor unveiled a plan to utilize $56 million of federal funding to support Minnesota child care providers. Many child care providers are experiencing increased costs and decreased revenue due to COVID-19. Child care is vital in our communities and must be preserved. These funds will help child care providers keep their doors open so parents can work and children can continue receiving the high-quality care and learning that they deserve.
$12 million of the funding our state received from the federal CARES Act will be used to combat hunger in Minnesota. Food shelves and food banks have seen a significant increase in demand since the pandemic began. The federal funding will help approximately 300 food shelves and Minnesota’s seven food banks meet that need.
On a related note, the deadline to apply for P-EBT has been extended to July 31. More than 200,000 families have already applied for or received these benefits, which help parents and guardians buy food when their children aren’t receiving school lunches. Families with children who received free or reduced-price school meals this year may receive up to $325 per child and an additional $100 per child in August. You can read about the P-EBT program and apply here. More information about food assistance can be found here.
If you haven’t completed the 2020 Census, please take a few minutes to respond and remind your friends and family to do the same. Census data determines how billions of dollars in federal funding is allocated and impacts representation at the local, state, and national level. As you may know, we need a strong count to keep Minnesota’s eight Congressional seats. We’re on the verge of losing one due to current population trends, which would diminish our influence in Washington.
Minnesota is currently leading the nation with a 71.5 percent response rate! You can help maintain our lead by responding online here, by phone, or by mail. If you haven’t responded yet, I encourage you to do so as soon as possible so fewer census workers will need to go door to door during the pandemic.
Absentee voting is the best way to protect yourself, other voters, and election officials from COVID-19. You can request an absentee ballot for the upcoming primary and general elections here. The online application 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.
Minnesota is taking steps to protect those who choose to vote in person, including moving polling places out of residential buildings and sites that don’t allow physical distancing. However, election officials are anticipating a volunteer shortage since many of the dedicated Minnesotans who usually serve as poll workers are older and at a high risk for COVID-19. If you’re young and don’t have any underlying health conditions, please consider stepping in to help run our election.
This will be my last legislative update until after the election. Legislators can’t use state resources for unsolicited communications during an election period because it might create an unfair advantage. While I won’t be able to send these emails for awhile, I’m still available to answer questions and discuss issues that are important to our community. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com or give me a call at 651-296-5375.