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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jessica Hanson (DFL)

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Vaccine Progress, Voting Rights, and More!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Dear Neighbors,

With Presidents Biden’s inauguration and the meeting of the 117th Congress under Democrat control for the next two years we have a very rare opportunity to make lasting progress for our state and the entire nation. At the legislature, I will continue to fight for the most vulnerable, the silenced, and the marginalized to strive to find solutions for the common good of our community. While there is renewed hope, we have to remember that we are still a wounded nation where lies and tyranny are tolerated by far too many. We must remain vigilant in fighting for progress, justice, and the rights of all people. 

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Vaccine Pilot Program Launches

Last week, Minnesota announced an important next step in the process of delivering the COVID-19 vaccine to certain priority groups. A pilot program will establish new vaccination sites throughout the state, and individuals who are 65 years or older, as well as school staff and child care workers (who have been notified by their employer that they’re eligible), will now be able to make appointments to receive the vaccine. If you are a school staff member or child care worker you will schedule an appointment through your employer.

If you fall into these groups, initial appointments are now full as they were extremely limited - particularly to our community and many others in the south metro (the pilot sites are located in Andover, Brooklyn Center, Fergus Falls, Marshall, Mountain Iron, North Mankato, Rochester, St. Cloud, and Thief River Falls). As availability allows and the pilot program expands, you can book appointments online here, or by phone at 612-426-7230 or toll free at 833-431-2053. New appointments won’t be available until tomorrow, Tuesday, January 26 at 12 pm. If you encounter problems or need help navigating this process, please contact me and our fantastic staff can help navigate barriers.

House DFL Introduces Democracy for the People act

Last week the House DFL introduced legislation that will defend and strengthen our democracy. I believe in the power of a strong democracy and gladly co-authored HF9. The bill has several measures that will ensure all Minnesotans can participate in our democracy without interference. Here are the main provisions of the bill:

  • Prohibits intimidating and harassing voters or elections officials and using deceptive practices to disenfranchise voters.
  • Gives state and local elections officials access to the critical federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds they need for election security and infrastructure.
  • Establishes automatic voter registration, allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, and restores the right to vote for Minnesotans who are on probation or parole.
  • Strengthens absentee voting by creating a permanent absentee ballot list, establishing ballot drop box and return sites, removing the witness requirement, and ensuring voting instructions for absentee ballots are provided in multiple languages.
  • Closes dark money loopholes, while making outside groups that spend large amounts of money disclose their three largest donors. The disclosure process for online and digital advertising will be modified as well.
  • Modernizes the Political Contribution Refund (PCR) program, replacing it with Democracy Dollars coupons that are available to all registered Minnesota voters.
  • Empowers voters and small donors with a small donor public financing match program for candidates and the creation of small donor committees for grassroots efforts.
  • Improves Minnesota’s redistricting process by setting fair criteria for lawmakers to follow when drawing and evaluating maps. It also creates a public process to solicit Minnesotans’ input, make redistricting data available to the public, and provides advance notice of maps and hearings.

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Apply for Student Benefits

Part of our current education funding model is sensitive to the number of children eligible for educational benefits like free or reduced lunch, transportation fees, and more. Many families did not re-apply for educational benefits this year in light of distance learning through COVID-19. Even if kids are eating food from home or picking up amazing brain-food from our superhero staff across the district, it is still very critical that families complete this year's application. We can collectively help ensure every school in District 191 and PLSAS gets the much-needed state and federal funding it deserves. 

Families with children in District 191 can click here to apply and for more information. 

Families with children in PLSAS click here to apply and for more information. 

Essential Workers Emergency Leave Act

You heard me say it on the campaign trail - essential workers are not expendable. Essential workers have kept Minnesotans safe. Too many were left out of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. They are putting their health and safety at risk to ensure we maintain our economy and ability to receive the services we need to feed ourselves and our families, be well, and stay safe. I signed on to co-author HF41 with Rep. Cedrick Frazier to address this, and I am grateful for his leadership on this. More information is available here.

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First Bills of the 2021 Session!

Despite the challenges this year has presented, important bills are moving through the legislature at a rapid pace! You can stay up to date with bills I am authoring and co-authoring here. Stay tuned for more information about 100% clean energy initiatives, CADI waiver extensions for folks hospitalized or under other forms of in-patient treatment, Freeway Landfill solutions, Dan Patch rail gag order reversal, Logan’s law, CO detector requirements in hotels, local capital investments such as the 169 corridor and highway 13, adult use cannabis legalization, and more.

Community Surveys

I promised to amplify the voices of our community in this role, and, to do that, I have to continue to keep open avenues of communication with you all and provide plenty of opportunities to send feedback. I am going to begin launching surveys for community members to complete in the coming weeks. If you have feedback or would like to influence the topics or help get the word out, please reach out to me via email. I will provide links to these surveys in my newsletters, and I invite you to participate if you live in 56A. 

Stay in Touch

Please feel free to reach out to me by email at rep.jessica.hanson@house.mn or by phone at 651-296-4212. If you have a friend, neighbor, or relative who wants to receive updates about the Legislature, let them know they can subscribe to my email list here, you can also follow my Facebook here. It’s an honor to represent our community. Please stay in touch and stay safe.

Sincerely,

Rep. Jess Hanson, District 56A
421 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155

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