I hope you and your loved ones have been able to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful weather this week!
I’m happy to report we’re making progress at the Capitol. House DFLers, Senate Republicans, and Governor Walz reached a bipartisan agreement earlier this week. The agreement establishes a framework for the state budget and outlines how state resources and some federal COVID-19 relief funds will be used over the next two years. It contains significant investments in education, which House DFLers prioritized during negotiations.
Lawmakers are working hard to finalize details of the budget. Conference committees will keep meeting over the next few weeks, with opportunities for Minnesotans to weigh in. We’ll continue working until the governor calls a special session, which could happen as soon as early June. We’re committed to helping the people who’ve sacrificed and suffered the most over the past year while investing in a Minnesota that works better for everyone.
Energy Conservation Bill Passes
The Commerce and Energy Conference Committee I serve on is off to a good start. Last week, we reached an agreement on the Energy Conservation and Optimization (ECO) Act – the most significant energy legislation passed in several years! This bill expands Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), which requires utilities to cut energy consumption by a certain amount each year. To meet these goals, utilities offer rebates and incentives for households and businesses that adopt energy savings methods, like installing more efficient heating and cooling systems. These investments reduce the need for new infrastructure, which benefits utilities, and customers can see huge returns in the form of lower energy bills. They also create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Our bill increases the amount of energy large utilities must conserve, with a particular focus on low-income households; provides more ways for utilities to reach these goals; and allows Minnesotans to switch from one fuel source to another. While there’s more work to be done, passing the ECO Act is a significant step forward.
Clean Cars Moving Forward
Minnesota is set to become the 15th state in the nation and the first in the Midwest to adopt clean car standards! A judge recently ruled that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has the authority to enact the standards, which require automobile manufacturers to produce more cars that emit low amounts of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. When they take effect, Minnesotans will have more access to low-emission and zero-emission vehicles like electric vehicles and hybrids.
Adopting clean car standards is an important step in our fight against climate change because transportation is the largest source of Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions. Estimates indicate they could reduce our state’s annual emissions by two million tons by 2030. People who purchase them will save money on gas and maintenance, and all of us will benefit from having more clean cars on the road because they reduce air pollution as well as carbon emissions.
Minnesota Receives American Rescue Plan Funding
Thanks to the American Rescue Plan that President Biden and Congress passed earlier this year, Minnesota is receiving nearly $5 billion of state and local aid. The state will get $2.8 billion worth of aid, and local governments will receive $2.1 billion. Some of the funds are for specific purposes like rental assistance and small business loans, but elected officials will work together to determine how the rest should be used to address the unique needs of people and communities across the state.
The bipartisan budget agreement I mentioned invests a portion of these funds. Additionally, Governor Walz recently announced that $75 million worth of aid will be used to provide summer school opportunities for Minnesota students. These resources will help meet students’ academic and emotional needs and ensure they’re prepared for a bright future.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or feedback, or if I can be of assistance. It’s an honor to serve our community.