I hope you all had a merry Christmas and happy New Year. As 2022 kicks off, the new legislative session is right around the corner and the pace in St. Paul is picking up. Below are a few updates from the Capitol.
I share the concerns of many of you who have expressed frustrations over what Biden's vaccine mandate means for businesses and employees. Today is a big day as the Supreme Court will hear arguments to either reimpose the stay on the order or begin enforcement. Currently, the U.S. Department of Labor has indicated OSHA will not issue citations for noncompliance with any of the requirements until Jan. 10, 2022, and it will not issue citations for the testing requirements until Feb. 9, 2022, so long as businesses are making "good faith" efforts to implement the rules. To account for any uncertainty created by the stay, MNOSHA will exercise similar enforcement discretion with respect to the compliance dates and will follow federal OSHA's timeline.
I will continue to monitor what is happening at the courts so that businesses and employees can plan accordingly. I will always stand up for the privacy of all Minnesotans and work to protect you from federal overreach.
To no one's surprise, studies are now proving that cloth masks are not as effective as N95 or KN95 masks in stopping the spread of COVID. After two years of government and the media forcing our children to wear masks in school, it is truly time that we stop with all mask mandates. Unfortunately, the DFL mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis re-imposed their mask mandates yesterday.
COVID is not going away. I urge you to do what you feel is right to minimize your risk of severe infection. If you do not feel well, stay home. But the time has come, we need to return to normal and live our lives free of masks and vaccine mandates.
Last week, the Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission (LCRC) approved $3.4 million in funding for a critical investment in the health of our state: recruiting, training, and deploying at least 1,000 new certified nursing assistants (CNAs).
Nursing assistants are the sixth most in demand job in Minnesota, providing frontline care to patients across the health care spectrum. This staffing initiative, led by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education in conjunction with Minnesota State, will offer resources and support to those pursuing a CNA credential from the first day of class to the first day on the job.
The program covers costs for tuition, fees, and materials, as well as supports transportation and technology needs for students. In addition, the $3.4 million in funding approved by the LCRC will provide up to 10 high schools with funds for lab equipment necessary to offer nursing assistant training classes on site. High schools will be determined via an application process that we plan to roll out in the coming weeks.
CNA programs throughout the state are ready to enroll and train students as soon as possible. Once trained, the CNAs will be eligible for employment at Minnesota long-term care facilities that are facing severe staffing shortages.
Learn more and find a program near you here.
Winter is in full swing, and as our temperatures drop so too does the frequent snowfall. As snowplows and salt trucks work to keep our roads safe, a recent study has shown the increase of freshwater salinity as salt is used to clear snow.
MnDOT recently told WCCO that while salt continues to be effective in clearing roads, they are utilizing other tools to balance the environmental impact. The Department has found that using a brine with the salt activates the salt faster, and allows them to use less.
Salt will always be used as an effective way of keeping our roads safe in the winter, but MnDOT is looking at ways to ensure we also preserve our beautiful lakes and rivers that we in Minnesota are so proud to have.