A month of the legislative session has passed, and I’m so glad to be here! It’s busy; we are deep into public committee hearings where we have a chance to hear from community members and experts on issues that affect Minnesotans. It’s a powerful experience, one that I would recommend to anyone. And, while legislators are working remotely to protect our staff and constituents, I am eager to connect with you. I hope you can join our first town hall of the year later this month.
Rep. Sandra Masin, Sen. Jim Carlson, and I are holding a town hall on Saturday, February 20 at 10:30 a.m. To participate, please register to join us on Zoom or visit my Facebook page when the event begins. You’ll be able to share questions and comments during the event, but please feel free to contact us directly as well.
Expanding Access to MinnesotaCare
COVID-19 has highlighted the value of affordable, high-quality health care for all. Last week, House DFLers announced a plan to expand access to MinnesotaCare. This program, which started as a bipartisan initiative in 1992, currently provides health care for 92,000 low-income Minnesotans. Our proposal allows people beyond the current income guidelines to enroll, paying premiums on a sliding, income-based scale. Those who enroll in MinnesotaCare could take advantage of lower out-of-pocket costs and access to a strong network of providers. It’s a bold solution that would help Minnesotans get the care they need. I am proud to be a co-author of this innovative legislation.
Legalizing Adult-Use Cannabis
Minnesota’s cannabis laws are doing more harm than good. Thousands of people have been swept up in the criminal justice system for minor cannabis offenses, with the impact falling disproportionately on communities of color. Despite nearly identical usage rates, Black Minnesotans are 5.4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white Minnesotans. On Monday, some of my House DFL colleagues unveiled a plan to address this legacy of racial injustice by legalizing adult-use cannabis.
The bill establishes new, responsible regulations and addresses legitimate concerns around youth access, public health, and road safety. It would reduce disparities in our criminal justice system and allow law enforcement to focus their resources on more serious issues. Legalization would also help Minnesotans access treatment for PTSD, cancer, chronic pain, and other serious illnesses. This would be particularly beneficial for veterans, who often cannot access or afford medical cannabis or legally receive it through the VA. As a co-author of the bill, I look forward to supporting it throughout the legislative process.
Governor Walz’s Budget Proposal
Governor Walz recently released a budget proposal for the next two years. His COVID-19 Recovery Budget prioritizes supporting working families, ensuring students catch up on learning, and helping small businesses stay afloat while driving Minnesota’s economic recovery. It’s a great place to start as we begin crafting the state budget. We need to invest in Minnesotans in order to get through this pandemic and build back better.
Small Business Relief Available
Thanks to the economic assistance package Minnesota lawmakers approved in December, Dakota County received $8.3 million to support local businesses and non-profit organizations impacted by COVID-19. The county is prioritizing those that haven’t received COVID-19 assistance, and the remaining funds will be delivered to businesses and non-profits that have already received grants. You can find more information and apply for these grants here. Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, February 12.
If you have any questions or feedback, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4128. I look forward to hearing from you.