I hope you and your loved ones are well and enjoying all of the summer events and activities Minnesota has to offer. My colleagues and I finished passing a new state budget earlier this summer, but I’ve continued working at the Capitol and in our community. I'm grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to connect with community members and advocates.
After a year and a half of not being able to connect with constituents in person, it was wonderful to join our neighbors on National Night Out. The food, games, fun, and company reminded me why I love to be in community so much.
I also had a fun night with residents of the Desnoyer neighborhood earlier this month. I greatly enjoyed the giggles with kids making giant bubbles and the conversations about healthcare for all, farm-to-table agriculture, and a bill I authored to cover college costs for Minnesotans who spent time in foster care.
I recently joined leaders from our community for a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour of Sejong Academy, the only Korean charter school in the Midwest. More than 80 percent of the academy’s students are English language learners from families with low incomes. They have an excellent ELL program, and a higher percentage of students met or exceeded math standards on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) than the state average. They’ve overcome great odds to help close Minnesota’s opportunity gap.
I met with Lorna Schmidt from Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis last week to celebrate passing a bill I authored that serves seniors and adults with disabilities. It provides pathways to housing stability for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness across Minnesota. Catholic Charities has been a wonderful partner in this work and made a huge impact with their continued advocacy and support.
I met Allan Malicsi, an old friend and the new Director of Workforce Development for Hmong American Partnership (HAP), for coffee yesterday. I always enjoy connecting with people making a difference in the world, and strong relationships between the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and organizations like HAP that provide direct services are necessary to ensure state appropriations impact the intended communities.
I was also able to visit the International Institute of Minnesota, where construction is moving along thanks to a bonding bill I supported. This organization offers a variety of resources to immigrants and refugees, including language learning, job training, immigration assistance, and citizenship classes. These services empower New Americans to create a strong start to a new life in our community and a pathway in pursuit of their goals.
The Institute’s work has always been necessary, but it’s particularly critical given the recent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. I touched base with Executive Director Jane Graupman to offer assistance with Afghan refugee resettlement.
Work has continued at the Capitol as well. Nine members of a new bipartisan group – three appointees each from the House, the Senate, and the Walz administration – are working together to determine who should receive the $250 million of premium pay we secured for essential workers. They’re collecting feedback directly from frontline workers and developing a series of recommendations for the legislature to consider later this year. You can follow their ongoing work here.
Essential workers have risked their own health to keep the rest of us safe and healthy during the pandemic. They deserve to be compensated for their sacrifices and hard work. I’ll do everything I can to ensure the final legislation benefits Minnesotans who’ve endured heightened risks and mental strain over the past 18 months.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, ideas, or feedback, or if I can be of assistance. You can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (651) 296-8799. As always, it’s an honor to represent you.
Kaohly Vang Her