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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL)

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Legislative Update – October 7, 2021

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you and your family are enjoying fall! Now is the perfect time of year to take a road trip to see the changing fall colors around our state. The Minnesota DNR has a helpful Fall Color Finder tool, highlighting locations nearing peak colors and specific reports from state parks.

Here is an update from the State Capitol.

Reproductive Freedom Caucus

The United States Supreme Court recently allowed extreme legislation restricting reproductive freedom in Texas to take effect. As a result, the protections afforded under the Roe v. Wade decision are now tenuous, at best. Anti-choice elected officials in other states, including in Minnesota, are pushing harmful legislation similar to the measures that passed in Texas.

There’s a new urgency to protect Minnesotans’ reproductive health rights, and passively supporting what had been the status quo is no longer adequate. Many of my legislative colleagues recently announced the formation of the new Reproductive Freedom Caucus. We will work to advance legislation such as the Protect Reproductive Options Act. The legislation – of which I am a co-author, introduced earlier this year – protects Minnesotans’ right to contraception, the right to carry a pregnancy to term and the right to abortion – free from interference by anti-abortion politicians who seek to enact or defend medically unnecessary barriers to comprehensive reproductive health care.

Rep. Hollins speaking at press conference

Harmful, extreme legislation that attacks reproductive freedom doesn’t just threaten the health of those who are or could be pregnant; it threatens the overall quality of health care we deeply value in this state. Unjust laws that attack reproductive rights disproportionately impact BIPOC individuals and communities. The Reproductive Freedom Caucus will work tirelessly at the Capitol to protect the fundamental right of all Minnesotans to make decisions about their own reproductive health care. Video of the news conference announcing the formation of our new group is available here.

Additionally, I’ve joined the new Black Maternal Health Caucus because reproductive health care is a key component to Black mothers having the access to the health care they deserve. In Minnesota, Black women are 2.3 times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than white women. This legislative session, lawmakers took action to improve maternal health outcomes, including the Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act. Still, there is much more work to do to improve maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, and our caucus is committed to delivering solutions.

Pfizer Booster Shots Now Available

To extend the effectiveness of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC has recently recommended boosters for those who have received this version of the 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.

Frontline Worker Premium Pay

As part of our new two-year state budget, lawmakers this year invested $250 million in premium pay for frontline workers who put themselves at an increased exposure to COVID-19. A nine member, bipartisan working group has been meeting to develop recommendations for lawmakers to distribute the funding. The group has heard from many workers about the challenges they’ve experienced including a lack of paid sick leave, limited personal protective equipment, and the emotionally draining stressful situations health care workers have encountered.

As the panel works toward a compromise that lawmakers could consider in a special session, last week, Republican members offered a plan which left out thousands of workers. This move is in addition to their threats to remove Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm – who has displayed steady leadership and commitment to Minnesotans’ health throughout this crisis – from her position for political reasons. Frontline workers and their families have made incredible sacrifices and don’t deserve to have their work diminished in such a way, nor should groups of workers be pitted against one another. It’s time to deliver the premium pay frontline heroes have been counting on.

Take the Minnesota Values Project Survey

MVP Survey A

Minnesotans care about one another and want to see each other succeed. We certainly care about our own success and that of our family, but we all want to see our friends, neighbors, and other Minnesotans have the opportunity to succeed and thrive, too.

Our state has experienced numerous, significant challenges recently though. COVID-19, systemic racism, and a lack of economic opportunity for all have tested our resiliency. Minnesotans expect lawmakers to help 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.

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. Thank you for your feedback!

Early Voting

Early voting is now open for Saint Paul’s 2021 mayoral and school board elections. You can vote in person at the Ramsey County Elections Office (90 Plato Blvd W) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or from the comfort of your own home by requesting a ballot through the mail. More information about these options is available here from Ramsey County Elections. To register to vote or check your registration status, visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website.

For any questions you have on the resources available to our community or our work in the Minnesota House, please feel free to contact my legislative assistant Sonia Romero at sonia.romero@house.mn or 651-296-4307. 

In Solidarity, 

Athena Hollins

Minnesota State Representative (House District 66B)

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