Last week lawmakers convened in a special session to finalize work on a new two-year state budget that funds the things Minnesotans care about to build a better future for everybody. A great deal of work has gone into reaching a bipartisan agreement, and I'm committed to ensuring everyone in our state can successfully recover from the pandemic and thrive.
Here's an update from the Capitol.
Bipartisan Budget Bills
We’ve reached a bipartisan compromise on several key areas of the state budget, while work in other areas continues. Here’s a short update on a few of the key issue areas where we have taken action on the House Floor:
Our Higher Education budget makes investments to ensure Minnesota students can recover from the unprecedented challenges they’ve faced over the past year. This bipartisan bill has key funding for the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State systems, as well as an increase to the State Grant program that will positively impact more than 75,000 students.
Agriculture and Broadband
The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly challenging for farmers and food producers, which only compounded many other difficulties they’ve experienced in recent years. The bipartisan Agriculture budget invests in emerging farmer outreach, urban and youth agriculture, the Farm-to-School initiative, Good Food Access, and funding for environmentally-friendly production practices and conservation techniques.
Commerce, Climate, Energy
As one of the fastest warming states in the country, Minnesota is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. We must take action to protect our health, our environment, our farms, and our infrastructure. The bipartisan Energy budget invests in a Clean Energy Training Center in North Minneapolis, a new Energy Transition Office, and innovative projects and research that will help Minnesota transition to clean energy. We also secured funding to install solar energy panels on schools, saving school districts money while providing educational opportunities for students.
The Commerce budget tackles the record-high catalytic converter theft problem with reforms to deter these thefts. In addition, our budget contains the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights, which gives students protections against the worst lending practices.
Our Legacy bill invests proceeds from the voter-approved constitutional amendment to protect and enhance Minnesota's outdoor heritage, clean water, arts and cultural heritage, and parks and trails. Since 2010, the Legacy Amendment has generated more than $4 billion for initiatives that benefit people and communities across Minnesota, and this legislation builds on that success.
Unfortunately, too many Minnesotans have tragically lost their lives as a result of drowning. Our bipartisan Legacy bill invests in water safety grants, including funding to provide scholarships to low-income and at-risk children. Here are some tips from the Minnesota DNR so everyone can enjoy the water safely on a boat, at the beach, or in a pool.
Shoreview Human Rights Commission
A great opportunity is available for young people in Shoreview who are looking to get more involved in their community. Two spots are open on the City of Shoreview’s Human Rights Commission for student representatives. The commission advises and aids the city by establishing and promoting a community standard of equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination. Meetings are held monthly.
Click here for more information and learn how to apply to this and other Shoreview commissions.
Rental Assistance Available
As the pandemic winds down, lawmakers have reached agreement on an “off-ramp” for the moratorium on evictions. The 105-day off-ramp provides time for Minnesotans who owe back rent to secure rental assistance, benefitting both renters and landlords alike. Landlords will be required to send a notice to renters with outstanding rent 15 days prior to eviction. In addition, renters with an outstanding rental assistance claim cannot be evicted and will have that protection until June 1, 2022.
If you or someone you know is behind on rent, assistance is available at renthelpmn.org. A Renter Checklist is available to ensure you have all the materials necessary to apply.
“Your Shot to Summer” Vaccine Rewards
Over three million Minnesotans have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In an effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible, Governor Walz announced the “Your Shot to Summer” initiative with rewards available for those getting a shot between May 27 and June 30. Rewards available include Visa gift cards, passes to Valleyfair, the Minnesota Zoo, and Nickelodeon Universe, State Fair tickets, state park passes, fishing licenses, and more. There are less than two weeks left to take advantage of this opportunity!
Minnesota Council on Disability Award
Thank you to the Minnesota Council on Disability for this recognition. I have enjoyed working with people with disabilities on legislation that advances the rights of Minnesotans with disabilities. There is much more work to be done!
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