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

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New Executive Action on COVID-19

Friday, November 13, 2020

Rep. Xiong

 

Dear Neighbors,

I hope this finds you and yours staying well and warm. I’d like to extend a big thank you for allowing me to continue my work for the Eastside in the Minnesota House of Representatives for another two-year term. It’s an incredible honor to serve our neighborhoods at the State Capitol, and I’ll continue to fight for you and work with you to help us get through these challenging times.

Here’s an update from the Capitol:


New Executive Action on COVID-19

Though the promising news of a viable vaccine gives us hope, we are currently facing critical care bed and health care worker shortages as Minnesota continues to see a surge in positive cases. This week Governor Walz announced new safety restrictions on bars, restaurants, and social gatherings. 

New Covid Regs

 

Bars and restaurants will have new capacity regulations, as well as a curfew starting today, and there will be a 10-person limit for indoor and outdoor social gatherings. For larger events, such as weddings and funerals, there is a 50-person limit starting on November 27, and a 25-person limit starting December 11. These new restrictions are far from ideal, especially for our local businesses that have been struggling since the onset of COVID-19 and the civil unrest after the murder of George Floyd. These measures will help to ensure Minnesotans remain safe and healthy. It’s critical that we all do our part to follow public health and safety guidelines, including wearing masks in all indoor public settings and getting tested when sick.

Additional locations and different forms of COVID testing, like saliva testing, are now available in Minnesota. In Saint Paul, there’s free saliva testing site at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, adjacent to Saint Paul RiverCentre. Due to expected demand, testing will be available seven days a week, noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Appointments can be made through the Vault Health registration site.


 

Largest Bonding Bill in State History Signed into Law

Last month, the Minnesota Legislature passed a robust and bipartisan Jobs & Local Projects and Critical Economic Development bill with investments in infrastructure and economic stimulus to help communities bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other items, the legislation contains $1.879 billion toward public assets such as higher education institutions, clean water infrastructure, transportation, parks, trails, and funding for underserved communities.

I had the opportunity to work with House Capital Investment Vice-Chair Fue Lee to secure $30 million in the package dedicated to equity, which includes funding for projects important to people of color and Indigenous communities. Of note, the Hmong American Farmers’ Association will receive $ 2 million in equity bond funding for the first time. The bill also contains a new policy requiring diversity hiring goals and equal pay for state bond-funded projects.

I’m also pleased to announce we were able to finally secure funding to fix the Kellogg Street Bridge! The Wakan Tipi Center and Metro State University also received dedicated bond funding. Elsewhere in St. Paul, the bill funds the Como Park Zoo, the Humanities Center, the Playwrights’ Center, Victoria Theatre, the Hmong Plaza, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art.

We also secured $116 million in bonding for public housing rehabilitation and new housing infrastructure. A full list of projects included in the bill can be accessed here.


Special Sessions Continue

Since we adjourned the regular session at the end of May, the Minnesota Legislature has consistently met every thirty days to renew the Governor’s emergency peacetime orders. The peacetime state of emergency has allowed Governor Walz to open the state’s toolbox and take quick, decisive action to protect Minnesotans through the COVID-19 pandemic.

An extension will ensure that Minnesotans continue to receive much-needed support and relief as the situation continues to change. It’s deeply disappointing Republicans are willing to risk Minnesotans’ lives in order to “get back to normal.” While the pandemic has demanded sacrifices from all of us and people all over the world, it won’t go away just because we’d like it to. We need to be listening to public health experts, like my legislative colleague who is also a frontline doctor fighting the virus. She spoke yesterday about her firsthand experience in the ER and you can listen here.


Stay in Touch

With the election over, I can now return to regularly sending out these legislative updates, which you can subscribe to here is you haven’t already. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at rep.jay,xiong@house.mn or give my office a call at  (651) 296-4201. I’m grateful for the opportunity to provide assistance anytime I can.

Please stay safe.

Sincerely,

Jay Xiong

State Representative