I hope everyone had a fun, enjoyable summer and that fall is treating you well so far. Here’s an update from the State Capitol.
Premium Pay for Frontline Workers
The two-year state budget lawmakers passed this year at the Capitol included legislation I authored to deliver $250 million worth of premium pay for the dedicated frontline workers who – just by showing up for work every day – put themselves at an increased risk of exposure to the virus. I was honored to be appointed to a nine-member, bipartisan working group with the responsibility to develop a plan to distribute the funding. Per our state budget legislation, to move the recommendations on to be considered by the full, seven of the nine members would need to vote for the package, meaning a final vote must be bipartisan.
This summer, our working group heard from numerous frontline workers including those working in hospitals, health care, education, EMS, child care, food service, retail, grocery, and others who didn’t have the option to work remotely during the pandemic. Considering the lack of paid sick leave for many of these workers, limited personal protective equipment, and the emotionally draining, stressful situations many of them have encountered, they all deserve a share of the premium pay. Since then, Democrats and Republicans on the panel have been working to reach a compromise.
Republican members recently offered a plan which left out thousands of workers. Further, Republicans continue to threaten they will, if called into special session, remove Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm from her job. Commissioner Malcolm has displayed steady leadership and commitment to Minnesotans’ health throughout this crisis, and doesn’t deserve to be used as a political bargaining chip as we work to improve the economic security of frontline workers. Both of these moves insult and diminish the sacrifices of frontline workers.
I recently joined other legislators, Commissioner of Labor and Industry Roslyn Robertson, and several essential workers for a press conference renewing our support for a frontline worker premium pay plan that includes all essential workers, while calling on Republicans to stop holding up the process that should have been completed over a month ago. We urge our GOP colleagues to put the well-being of Minnesotans above politics. Let’s not waste more time. Our Frontline workers deserve more, now!
Pfizer Boosters Now Available
The CDC has recommended booster shots for some people who have received the Pfizer version of the COVID-19 vaccine. This booster will help extend the effectiveness of their vaccine. For those who received their shot at least six months ago, groups eligible for a booster include those who:
Boosters are not yet available for those who received the Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Visit the Minnesota Vaccine Locator for a location to receive either your booster or initial vaccine series.
With the Delta variant still fueling the pandemic, it remains important for as many people as possible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, free, and effective in helping prevent the virus from spreading in our communities and protecting yourself against hospitalization or other serious health impacts. Please make plans to get your shot if you haven’t yet done so.
Minnesota Values Project Survey
Since last spring, our state and communities have experienced numerous, significant challenges including difficulties due to COVID-19, the impacts of systemic racism, and economic security remaining out of reach for too many Minnesotans. In our state, we care about our own success and the success of our family, but beyond that, we all want to see others have the opportunity to succeed and thrive, too. We have the opportunity to both respond to people’s needs now in the short term and make the significant changes necessary to improve people’s lives over the long haul.
As we continue this important work in the Capitol, my colleagues and I would like your feedback and input. You’re invited to take the 2021 Minnesota Values Project Survey. The survey will give you the opportunity to share a bit about what’s going well for you and your family, your aspirations, apprehensions, and challenges, as well as what we as lawmakers can do at the State Capitol to improve opportunities across our state. Please take a moment or two to take the survey; it’s only four questions. We deeply value your feedback as we work to create a brighter future for all Minnesotans.
Energy Assistance Available
While temperatures have remained above average lately, winter weather is just around the corner, and no Minnesotan deserves to be left out in the cold. On Friday, October 1, Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule (CWR) took effect. The CWR protects people from electricity and natural gas shutoffs during the coldest period of the year. If you’re behind on energy bills, the CWR allows you to enter a payment plan with your natural gas or electric provider. Visit the Public Utilities Commission website for more information.
Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program helps families pay for current and past-due bills for electricity, gas, oil, biofuel and propane, emergency fuel delivery, and repair/replacement of homeowners’ broken heating systems. Starting this year, the program has been expanded to include water and sewer bills. Over $130 million in federal funding for this program is available with over 600,000 households eligible. More information is available from the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
High School Page Program
The Minnesota House of Representatives is accepting applications for the High School Page Program. The program, open to high school juniors, will offer participants a chance to meet with elected officials, participate in the legislative process, and discuss issues they care about during the 2022 legislative session. They will receive a small stipend, and the cost of lodging is covered.
Students can learn more about the High School Page Program and apply online. A video series on YouTube is also available with more in-depth information about the program. Applications are due on Tuesday, November 23.
Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns about legislative issues in the Minnesota House, I look forward to hearing from you!
State Representative, District 45A
Minnesota House of Representatives