Happy New Year! And good riddance to 2020. I hope that you and your family are healthy and safe and that your year is off to a good start.
Legislative Session Begins
Yesterday, I was honored to be sworn in for another term in the Minnesota House. The 2021 legislative session will be dominated by our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and support for Minnesotans dealing with its consequences, but there is much other work to do as well.
This term, I’ll continue as chair of the House Early Childhood Finance & Policy Committee, which has been elevated to be a full “major budget” committee. I’m also excited to continue to serve on the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance & Policy Committee; there is so much more to do in this area. My final committee assignments are Ways & Means – which oversees the entire budget process –and Human Services Finance & Policy.
The majority of legislative work this session will be conducted remotely due to the ongoing pandemic. But there will still be ample opportunities to follow and participate in the legislative process. Consider following House Public Information Services on Facebook or subscribing to Session Daily, which provides nonpartisan updates on committee hearings, floor sessions, and high-profile bills. Public hearings, floor sessions, and other business will be broadcast on five House live stream channels. You are also welcome to follow my official Facebook page for updates.
COVID-19 Updates & Information
While COVID-19 continues to threaten our state and our communities, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Later today, Gov. Walz is expected to announce a loosening of restrictions on certain activities like indoor dining in restaurants. And two vaccines are now being distributed (though it’ll take a few months until the vaccines are available to everyone). Information on the vaccination distribution plan is available here.
In the meantime, we all need to continue to do our part to slow the spread of the virus and protect our communities. That means adhering to public health guidelines, wearing a mask, social distancing, and getting tested if you feel sick or have a known exposure. You can find details about the various COVID-19 testing options here.
One fairly new way that you can help speed our state’s recovery is to use COVIDaware MN, a mobile app that can alert you if you’ve been in close contact with someone who’s contracted the virus, even if it’s someone you don’t know. The app is free, voluntary, and anonymous, and more than 230,000 Minnesotans have downloaded it. You can download it and find more information here.
Help During the Pandemic
The pandemic and the steps taken to curb it have created challenges for so many people. Resources are available to help. Some are described in the next few paragraphs, but you should also visit staysafe.mn.gov for more information, and of course feel free to reach out to me if I can be of assistance.
Recently-passed federal legislation will provide 11 more weeks of coverage and supplemental payments to those receiving unemployment benefits. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is setting up the new federal programs and hopes to start making payments very soon.
Relatedly, I’m happy to report that high school students who lost their job due to COVID-19 – and who are otherwise ineligible to received unemployment assistance – are now eligible to receive “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” (PUA). Such student workers can apply for assistance at www.uimn.org. I also hope that this session we can change the restriction in state law and allow these students (many of whom are major contributors to their families’ economic stability) to receive unemployment.
Finally, at the most recent special session in December, a COVID-19 assistance package was passed that provides direct financial aid to a wide array of businesses experiencing economic harm due to the pandemic.
The legislative session will move quickly. Please keep in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 296-4199.
With 2020 finally in the past and a new legislative session starting, I remain even more committed to a better future – a society that truly allows everyone to contribute and thrive. #EverybodyIn.
Thank you for the honor of serving our community for another term,
State Representative, District 64B
503 State Office Building
Subscribe to my email updates: www.house.leg.state.mn.us/64b
Follow my office on Facebook: facebook.com/repdavepinto