This week is the beginning of Black History Month, a month where we focus on the history of Black Americans so that we can better understand the events of today. It is clear that while we have come far in our fight for equity and justice for all, we have not come nearly far enough. We are approaching the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, and while we are awaiting the results of the trial, can we confidently say that an event like that won’t happen again? This pandemic has also revealed the continued disparities throughout our state. For instance, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) reports that an estimated one in two Black workers in Minnesota have applied for unemployment since mid-March compared with one in four white workers. For an illuminating look at the disparities in our state, I encourage you to read the House Select Committee on Racial Justice’s report on racial justice in MN, here. I also encourage you to read the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus’ statement on Black History Month.
Paid sick and safe
No one should have to choose between caring for themselves or a loved one and a paycheck. That’s why I co-authored the House DFL’s new bill to expand Earned Sick and Safe Time. The bill aims to provide an important short-term benefit to workers by allowing them to accrue sick time based on the number of hours that they work. The impossible choice between a paycheck and taking time off to care for a sick child is a real problem in Minnesota, especially for low-wage workers and those in the service industry. This requirement has several key additional benefits, including healthier workplaces and schools, greater support for caregivers, and reduced health care costs. I will continue to support this critical legislation.
Many of you are aware that I’ve spent a significant amount of time in the cannabis advocacy arena before earning the opportunity to represent you in the legislature. I am proud to say that this week we introduced a strong adult-use cannabis bill that will end the destructive prohibition of cannabis. Minnesotans across the state are ready for us to implement a safe, just, and responsible system around adult-use cannabis. By legalizing and safely regulating adult-use cannabis we can expunge cannabis related charges that have exacerbated our already terrible racial disparities. I believe that Minnesota has what it takes to create the best adult-use cannabis laws in the country. You can watch my speech and our full press conference on this here.
Governor’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget
Last Week, Governor Walz announced his two-year budget proposal, aimed at supporting small businesses that will drive our economic recovery, ensuring students can catch up on learning opportunities lost over the past year, and supporting working families struggling during this crisis.
We cannot cut our way through this challenge. In order to ensure a bright future for all Minnesotans as our state recovers from the pandemic, we need to make strategic investments in education, health care, and our economy while balancing the budget. That’s why Governor Walz and Democrats want big corporations and the wealthiest Minnesotans to pay their fair share so our students, families, and small businesses are able to make it out of this pandemic.
Dakota County COVID-19 Business and Nonprofit Assistance
The Dakota County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 19 approved a fourth round of grants totaling up to $8.3 million to businesses and nonprofit organizations suffering financially due to COVID-19. This round of grants prioritizes businesses and nonprofits that have not received any county or state COVID-19 relief assistance, before providing additional funds to those that have already accepted some grant money.
Eligibility requirements include:
To apply for a grant, go to www.dakotacounty.us, search ‘business grant’.
Low Income Energy Assistance Program (EAP)
As Minnesotans continue to feel the impact of COVID-19 and the quarantine, we want everyone to know that there is still assistance available to income eligible households (both owners and renters) for home heating bills and furnace repairs. The Energy Assistance Program can help by providing financial assistance:
The application period is open until May 31st, 2021. Here are flyers in English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong:
You can find more information and links to apply at the Minnesota Department of Commerce website.
Second Harvest Heartland bill
I dropped my first official bill in the hopper this week to be formally introduced in the House. This bill will help us continue to fund our food shelves around the state. You can learn more about the important work of Second Harvest Heartland at https://www.2harvest.org/.
The Biden Administration announced that they will increase the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped to states by 16 percent over current levels for at least the next three weeks. Minnesota is expected to receive nearly 11,000 additional doses each week under the new allocation.
The announcement comes after requests from Governor Walz and other Midwestern governors for more vaccines to be distributed by the federal government. This week, the Centers for Disease Control allocated less than 70,000 doses to Minnesota, an insufficient amount to vaccinate priority populations including healthcare workers, long-term care residents, and Minnesotans 65 years of age and older.
We have seen extraordinary demand for the vaccine in Minnesota, and we are working with a variety of providers to create a strong network of choices for Minnesotans when it’s time to get their vaccine. Every dose Minnesota receives puts us one step closer to crushing COVID-19, which is why we need to move quickly. For months, the Governor urged the CDC and the White House to get Minnesota more doses. It’s good news that they’re finally listening. The fact is, we still need more doses. Now, the federal government needs to provide even more vaccines. For up to date vaccination information follow the COVID-19 vaccination dashboard.
Stay in Touch
Please feel free to reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Rep. Jess Hanson, District 56A
421 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155