It’s been a busy week at the Capitol! Here’s an update on what I’ve been working on:
My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine as they continue to defend their country and democracy. While the Minnesota Legislature doesn’t have jurisdiction over foreign policy matters, we’re doing what we can to support Ukraine and Minnesota’s Ukrainian community. A bipartisan group of legislators recently came together to introduce a bill that would divest our state’s pension fund investments from Russia. The bill would also codify an Executive Order Governor Walz issued to bar state agencies from contracting with Russian companies.
While millions of Americans have access to free mammograms as a result of the Affordable Care Act, 12 percent of people who receive a mammogram need additional testing that could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. These costs force some people to delay or forego testing. If an individual does have breast cancer and it spreads while they’re waiting to be diagnosed, it may become deadlier and more expensive to treat.
I’m championing a bill that would eliminate all out-of-pocket costs for breast cancer screening, including follow-up tests. It was developed out of my own experience with breast cancer and screenings, with the goal of ensuring everyone can get an early diagnosis and hopefully have the positive outcome that I had. I recently had a chance to talk about the bill with WCCO News and Sen. Carla Nelson, one of my Republican colleagues who is supporting the bill.
Minnesota is experiencing more severe weather than ever before, and if our climate continues changing, there will be even more droughts, wildfires, and other severe weather events. We need to take steps to prevent climate change and make sure we’re prepared for the changes that are already in motion.
One of the bills I authored will help communities prepare for extreme weather by funding educational programs for farmers and land and resource managers that would be offered by the University of Minnesota Extension Service. These programs would help communities become more resilient. If you’d like to learn more about this bill, you can watch me present it to the Higher Education Committee.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce is on track to deliver about $7.5 million of Solar for Schools grants! I authored the bill that established this grant program, and I’m so glad to see such interest from schools across our state. Up to 80 schools in 45 school districts will receive funds to purchase and install solar energy systems that will help reduce energy costs and create learning opportunities for students.
While the first round of grants will go mainly to schools in Greater Minnesota, more information about grants for schools located in Xcel Energy territory will be released soon. Please stay tuned for updates!
A new episode of the Capitol Climate Connections podcast was released today! On this episode, Rep. Jamie Long and I focused on the state of clean energy in Minnesota. Ellen Anderson, the Climate and Energy Director at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, and Allen Gleckner, the Lead Director of Clean Electricity at Fresh Energy, joined us to talk about the progress Minnesota has made, our next steps, and bills that would move us forward, like the 100 percent clean energy bill and the Next Generation Climate Act. You can listen and subscribe to Capitol Climate Connections on several platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Please reach out if you have any questions, ideas, or feedback you’d like to share. You can reach me by email at email@example.com or call (651) 296-9934.