Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

Back to profile

Legislative Update - Vaccines & Economic Assistance

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Rep. Howard

Dear Neighbors,

It’s only Tuesday, but it’s already been a busy week. Yesterday, Minnesota received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bipartisan agreement on economic assistance for our small businesses and working families, and over the weekend I’m humbled to share that I was elected to be an Assistant Majority Leader by my DFL colleagues in the Minnesota House.


The COVID-19 Vaccine

Ahead of the vaccine's arrival in our state, last week Governor Walz announced Minnesota’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan. Keeping speed, equity, and safety in mind, the plan was made in partnership with the federal government to ensure we’re making the most of our initial limited supply.

The first to receive the vaccine in Minnesota will be health care workers and long-term care residents, who would then be followed by essential workers, seniors, and people with preexisting conditions that are more likely to become seriously ill with this virus. The arrival of the vaccine is incredibly good news, but we’re still a long way from it becoming available to all who want one. In the meantime, it’s important that we continue adhering to the public health guidelines that have kept our communities safe - social distancing, hand washing, wearing a mask, and getting tested when we feel sick


Assistance for Working Families

Since November’s “turn back the dial” measures in response to the surge of COVID-19 cases, we’ve been working at the State Capitol to deliver on another round of economic assistance for the Minnesotans that have been impacted the most by this pandemic. Ideally, help would have come a long time ago from the federal government, but since the gridlock in DC has yet to produce results, we had to act fast.

The result was yesterday’s passage of the COVID-19 assistance legislation, which includes a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance and direct financial support for businesses. The Department of Revenue estimates that 5,800 small businesses will receive $82-88 million beginning before the end of the year. Another $114.5 million will be distributed to counties to provide grants to impacted businesses, and movie theaters and convention centers will receive $14 million. 

While these are important steps to help Minnesotans, it is unfortunate that Senate Republicans blocked much needed action to ensure Minnesotans can afford to stay in their homes. With applications for COVID housing assistance closed, and January rent due in a few weeks, the omission of any meaningful housing assistance will have dire consequences for Minnesotans facing housing insecurity. You can read about this issue in an op-ed I wrote in the Star Tribune last week

In addition, Senate Republicans said no to child care provider grants and resources we need to help shelter our most vulnerable populations. When the legislature convenes in January, we have priorities we must address immediately because it's simply not OK to leave Minnesotans out in the cold. 


Stay Connected 

There is light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic, but a tough road remains ahead. We’re gearing up for the 2021 Legislative Session, starting on January 5, and I’m incredibly honored that my colleagues elected me to serve as an Assistant Majority Leader. I plan to use this role to better ensure that Minnesotans get through this pandemic and emerge in a position to build a better life. 

If you have any questions about our work in the Minnesota House, or the resources available to our community, feel free to reach out at or (651) 296-7158. We’re going to get through this together, and your input is greatly appreciated.  

Be safe. Be well. Be kind.  


In partnership,  

Michael Howard