I hope you have been able to get outdoors and enjoy this early taste of spring! Our days are literally and figuratively getting brighter. Minnesota was recently ranked 3rd in our ability to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine. This week, we reached an important milestone in our fight against COVID-19, 70% of Minnesotans 65 years of age and older have officially been vaccinated! We had initially hoped to reach this goal by the end of March, but thanks to an increased supply from the federal government we have been able to speed things up. As a result, the state will expand eligibility to the next two phases of Minnesotans at once, starting Wednesday. Providers have been directed to prioritize people in the first of these phases, which includes Minnesotans with specific underlying health conditions; food processing plant workers; and Minnesotans with rare conditions or disabilities that put them at higher risk of severe illness. Providers will then have the flexibility to provide available appointments to other eligible Minnesotans.
More than 1.8 million Minnesotans will become eligible to receive a vaccine beginning this week:
Phase 1b Tier 2 populations, including:
Phase 1b Tier 3 populations, including:
Whether you’re eligible to get the vaccines in a few weeks or a few months, be sure to sign up for the state’s Vaccine Connector.
Child Support and Custody Bills
Many of my bills are continuing to work their way through the legislative process. This week two of my bills had a hearing before the Human Services and Finance Policy Committee. HF 1436 would ensure that appeals to child support good cause exemptions happen in a timely manner and don’t compromise the safety of the parents and their ability to care for their children and allow cases to be transferred to tribal courts when appropriate. HF 1435 would create a number of much needed technical and housekeeping corrections to our laws around foster care, adoption and permanent legal custody. These changes will help empower youth and caregivers as they navigate this very complex system. If you would like to learn more about these bills you can watch my presentation here.
Freezing Home and Community Based Services Waivers
I presented a bill this week to freeze HCBS waivers when people are hospitalized or in other in-patient settings like substance abuse treatment or undergoing mental health treatment. As it stands today, people receiving these waivers lose their benefits after 30 days of being in-patient. My bill seeks to freeze their services, rather than cancel them, for up to 121 days. This will allow people to return to the community after their stay with - at minimum - the same level of services they entered care with. Though people may need more services following their discharge, I believe it is important to allow them to begin with an assessment of the additional services they need rather than being forced to start all over with an initial MNChoices assessment. This bill has bipartisan support, and I am looking forward to this becoming law. You can watch testimony on this bill, here.
The bonding bill passed in last year's special sessions included a big project on the Dakota/Yosemite Interchange on Highway 13. As the project unfolds, we’ve found that there are some slight adjustments needed to be sure we can optimize these funds to cover all aspects of the project. This week I testified to the Capital Investments committee about why we need these changes to be sure this project can achieve the best outcomes. I am looking forward to all the work the City of Savage and Scott county will do to continue to improve traffic at this interchange.
PPP Loan Taxes
I have heard from businesses throughout the district about whether or not we should tax PPP loans. I want everyone to know that I am a proponent of doing what we can to continue to support small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. I am confident that we will reach a bipartisan agreement this session, that will keep the best interests of small businesses in mind while ensuring that large corporations and businesses that have thrived contribute their fair share. If you want me to hear more about your small business or your favorite small business in the community, please tag me and the business on social media and/or email me and let’s continue to spread the word about the amazing businesses in our district that need our support more than ever.
Upcoming Town Halls
Heads up! My first town hall of the session is tonight at 6. Sign up using the google form here, you can also submit questions ahead of time. I hope you can join us for this virtual get together!
The state budget officials announced a new economic forecast, highlighting a turnaround in our state budget outlook. This is good news, but the fact remains too many Minnesotans are still struggling as a result of the health and economic impacts from the pandemic. Those who were already struggling before the pandemic have experienced even greater hardship over the past year. We need to come together to invest in what Minnesotans value most – like excellent public schools, health care, and support for small businesses and families – to ensure we can all pull through this crisis.
Stay in Touch
Please feel free to reach out to me by email at email@example.com 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