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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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Passing Bills off the House Floor

Thursday, March 31, 2022
Rep. Nelson


As we wrap up this month of the legislative session, I wanted to provide an update on the legislation we’ve passed in the Minnesota House recently. As we come upon committee deadlines for bills to be heard, more time will soon be spent in negotiations for our final bills, as well as time spent on the House floor debating and voting for them. 

Here’s the latest:


Standing with Ukraine

The past month has been full of harrowing images from Ukraine as Russia continues their violent invasion. In what has been a conflict of ever-growing atrocities, my heart goes out to the Ukrainian people, including the 17,000 Ukrainian-Americans who call Minnesota home. 

In a broadly bipartisan move, legislators representing the four main caucuses in the Minnesota Legislature introduced a bill to divest Minnesota’s state pension fund from Russia and codify Governor Walz’s Executive Order barring the state from contracting with Russian companies. The bill, which I co-authored, has now been unanimously passed by the House and Senate.


Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, the estimated worth of Minnesota's state pension fund investments in Russia was approximately $53 million, and is now estimated to be below $10 million. The legislation also sanctions Belarus for its complicity in the Russian invasion.

Passing this bill is the right thing to do, and in joining numerous other democracies in a similar action, Minnesota is standing with Ukraine and adding to the international pressure that will hopefully soon lead to peace.

You can read more about this legislation here


 Support for Firefighters

Earlier this month, the House passed a bill to update the Hometown Heroes Assistance Program. Our firefighters face alarmingly high incidences of cancer, cardiac issues, and emotional trauma. The new program, which lawmakers enacted last year, provides firefighters access to education, prevention, and care to address cardiac conditions, emotional trauma or cancer diagnoses. The Hometown Heroes Assistance Program is the most comprehensive in the nation of its kind, and provides firefighters with free access to emotional trauma resources, up to $20,000 from critical illness insurance policies, and ongoing health and wellness training.

Prior to the program’s enactment, Minnesota was ranked 45th out of 50 states when it comes to investing in the fire service. I was proud to support this initiative for the heroes in our communities who make incredible sacrifices to keep us safe, and I look forward to Minnesota improving that ranking. 

Supporting ALS Research, Caregiver Supports

The legislature recently approved a groundbreaking package of investments I co-authored to support research into a cure and to help caregivers of those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative condition that results in progressive loss of motor control of voluntary muscles. It affects approximately 30,000 Americans, with about 5,000 new cases diagnosed every year. At any one time, there are an average of 450 Minnesotans living with ALS. It’s 100% fatal and there is no known cure.

The bill invests $20 million toward research into the prevention, treatment, causes, and cures of ALS, and invests $5 million for caregiver support programs for families of people with ALS. Sen. David Tomassoni of Chisholm was diagnosed with the condition last year. Despite the effect the disease has had on him, he’s dedicated himself to using his remaining time in the legislature to push for these bold investments. I’m proud we could come together on a bipartisan basis to quickly move this initiative through the legislature that will make a positive impact on people’s lives.

New COVID-19 Testing Approach

COVID-19 numbers in Minnesota have consistently been low in recent weeks, including test positivity and hospital admissions. Meanwhile, with fewer people feeling sick, demand for saliva testing has decreased significantly. As a result, Minnesota’s testing strategy will be shifting more to a focus on at-home rapid testing.

Minnesota households are now eligible to receive two test kits (for a total of four tests) per home through the mail at Minnesota has secured 500,000 test kits (for a total of 1 million at-home tests) and the program will be available until all the test kits are ordered.

Through the federal government, Minnesotans can order free rapid at-home tests at Food banks, local public health agencies, community groups, and other community health organizations may also have free tests available. Due to actions taken by the Biden Administration, costs for over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 tests are now required to be covered by health insurance plans.

With the lessons we’ve learned over the last two years, Minnesota is well-positioned to respond effectively if case counts tick upward again. While we all hope to avoid another wave, testing continues to be important for preventing the spread of the virus. Getting a test is still recommended if you:

  • have symptoms of the virus.
  • have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • are returning from international or domestic travel.
  • attended a high-risk event.
  • work in a setting that has regular, close contact with many people.


Stay Connected

The Minnesota House is now open to the public, with the State Office Building accepting visitors on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. If you’d like to stop by for a meeting on a legislative issue, please feel free to reach out to my office. 

We’re over halfway through the legislative session, and I look forward to hearing from you as we finalize our work in the coming weeks. If you have any questions about our work, you can contact me through email ( or phone (651-296-3751). I appreciate hearing from you!


Rep. Michael V. Nelson