You are invited to join Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn, Sen. Cwodzinski, and me on Tuesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. for a virtual town hall. We are now in the third month of the 2021 Legislative Session and we would like to hear your comments on the work ahead.
Click here to submit a question in advance.
I am still taking your feedback on issues that may be discussed this legislative session. Your priorities are important to me. Please take a moment to click on this link and complete my legislative survey. [You may note this survey was created prior to the February forecast announcement and question #4 doesn’t reflect the current $1.6 billion projected positive balance].
Putting Children First
This week in Early Childhood Finance and Policy Committee, I presented HF 1467. This bill would allow low income families on the waiting list for childcare assistance to receive assistance sooner. If passed into law, the bill will help families who were struggling before and during the pandemic to fully participate in the post pandemic economic recovery knowing that their children are well taken care of in affordable childcare.
You can watch the full hearing and listen to all the testimony here.
This week, I participated in a virtual news conference on universal childcare affordability. You can watch the event here.
A new Save the Children report has given Minnesota high marks in protecting children during the COVID-19 pandemic. I agree with Gov. Walz who says Minnesota children ‘still face unacceptably high disparities in race and income.” We all know there is more work to do.
Budget Forecast Announced
Late last week, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) announced a projected positive state budget balance of $1.6 billion. The number is an improvement from the projected deficit just a few months ago, but it is important to recognize that the pandemic has caused great economic hardship for many Minnesotans and we still have work to do.
Armed with this information, we can now proceed cautiously with a clearer picture of our work in the coming months. I am particularly aware of the need for early childhood investments and our youngest Minnesotans will be a priority of mine as lawmakers craft our state budget over the next few months.
Minnesota was recently ranked 3rd in our ability to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine. At our current rate we should be able to vaccinate all Minnesotans 70 years or older by the end of the month! With the new single dose vaccines now available, this pace will continue to speed up. To track vaccines, visit the Department of Health’s dashboard.
The Vaccine Connector is a recently announced tool to link Minnesotans with a COVID-19 vaccine. Sign up now and you’ll be notified when it’s your turn to be vaccinated.
Everyone can work to reduce the spread of COVID-19
- Wear masks when in public. 10-50% of virus carriers are asymptomatic (are not experiencing any symptoms). Wearing masks helps control the virus and has been shown to lessen COVID-19 spread.
- Avoid enclosed spaces with groups of people, where the virus can linger in the air for long periods of time.
- Get tested if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.
- Stay six feet away from others.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or sleeve, or a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands afterwards.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose, and mouth – with unwashed hands.
- Up-to-date guidance is available from the Department of Health.
Stay connected with the legislature
The Minnesota House will continue to operate remotely, as we did throughout most of 2020. The House will ensure openness and transparency for the public by expanding the number of simultaneous committees it can webcast live?from a maximum of two to five, so you can stay current on issues moving through committees this budget session.
Also, the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services offers nonpartisan recaps of high-profile bills, committee hearings, and floor sessions with their Session Daily publication. Subscribe to receive these here. To track bills of interest through the legislative process, I encourage you to utilize the MyBills feature on the Minnesota House of Representatives’ website here.
Please continue to reach out with any input, ideas, or feedback about the issues important to you. I value hearing from you, so please don’t hesitate to call or email me any time. You can also connect with me on Facebook here. It’s an honor to represent you at the State Capitol.