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

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Legislative Update - The 2021 Legislative Session Begins

Friday, January 8, 2021

Rep. Howard

Dear Neighbors, 

Like most, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about this dark week in our nation’s history. I'm struck by how it felt at the same time both surreal yet entirely inevitable.

Donald Trump and his allies spent years discrediting and sowing distrust in every public institution and the very essence of our democracy. At the same time, Congressional Republicans enabled and mobilized the mob forces we saw at our nation’s Capitol with their complicit silence. Make no mistake, this was an insurrection. Donald Trump and his allies who tried to overturn the will of American voters bear responsibility.

This stain on our democracy will not be resolved overnight, in one election, or in one year, but I take solace in the fact that the fascist mob and their enablers represent a fraction of Americans. It is up to all of us to speak up, harness our collective faith in our democracy, and get to work to rebuild and strengthen it.

Today I sit in my office across the street from the Minnesota State Capitol. Today more than most days, I feel the weight and responsibility of my role as a state representative, entrusted with this job by my community. I take this solemn duty seriously and am resolved to fight for and defend our democracy from those who seek to destroy it.



The 2021 Legislative Session Begins

The chaos in Washington DC was in stark contrast to the calm, orderly start to the 2021 Legislative Session here in Minnesota. Adhering to public health guidelines, I joined the majority of my legislative colleagues in taking out oath of office remotely.


Representing the communities of Richfield and Bloomington in the Minnesota House is a humbling responsibility. Thank you to my community for your trust. I am ready to fight for you, and with you, to make our community, state and world a better place.

This session, I’m excited to continue in my role as the Vice Chair of the Housing Finance and Policy Committee in the Minnesota House. The ongoing global pandemic has shown how important access to a safe and secure home is for the health and wellbeing of an entire community. It’s the bedrock we need to establish for all Minnesotans in order for any other policy or investment to be impactful. I’ll also be serving on the newly-established Division on Preventing Homelessness, and have been crafting legislation on housing that will be instrumental in our initial policy proposals on both economic security and health care. Stay tuned for more on these issues. 

The other committees I’m proud to serve on this session are the Taxes Committee and the Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee



Small Business and Nonprofit Relief Grants

As a result of our bipartisan work in the House with the Senate and Governor Walz, additional economic support is now available to our small businesses. Hennepin County recently opened the grant application process, and the online form can be accessed here until January 14. Please don’t hesitate to reach out directly if you need any assistance or have questions about eligibility.



Adjusting the Dials on COVID Measures

Dial update

The measures we are taking to slow the spread of COVID-19 are working. Despite this being one of the deadliest weeks of the pandemic for the nation, Minnesota has consistently seen a decline in cases. In response to this, Governor Walz announced a series of changes to public health guidance, allowing more businesses to reopen and activities to take place. Starting Monday, January 11, the following changes take effect:

  • Indoor dining at bars and restaurants can open at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 150 people. Parties of no more than six people must remain six feet from other parties; bar seating is open to parties of two; reservations are required; and establishments must close dine-in service by 10 p.m.
  • Gym capacity remains capped at 25 percent but maximum capacity increases to 150 and classes can increase to 25 people, assuming distancing can be observed. Machines and people must maintain 9 feet of distance. Face coverings are required.
  • Outdoor events and entertainment continue at 25 percent capacity, but maximum capacity increases to 250 people. Social distancing is required.
  • Indoor events and entertainment – like bowling alleys, movie theaters, and museums – may open at 25 percent, with no more than 150 people in each area of the venue. Face coverings are required, and they may not offer food service after 10 p.m.
  • Youth and adult organized sports have resumed practice as of January 4 and games resume January 14 with spectators, following the appropriate capacity limits for indoor or outdoor venues. Inter-region tournaments and out of state play are discouraged.
  • Pools opened on January 4 for some activity and may now open, like gyms, at 25 percent capacity.

This is good news for our local businesses, but it remains incredibly important that we continue to social distance, wash our hands, wear a mask, and get tested when we feel sick



Stay Connected This Session

This session, we’ll continue to conduct committees and business on the House floor remotely. This is far from ideal, but continues to be a necessary measure for the health and safety of our staff and members. Though you won’t be able to physically sit in on a committee hearing, watch a debate from the House gallery, or visit with me in person, we’ve taken measures to continue to be as transparent and accessible as possible during the remainder of this pandemic. 

The House Public Information page is a great place to stay up to date, and we’ve added additional livestream channels for the public to watch legislative hearings. You can also follow along with my work on my member page, “like” my official Facebook page, and subscribe to and share these legislative updates. 

As always, feel free to reach out to my office with any questions or comments you may have. You’ll reach me or our legislative assistant, Blake. You can contact me at at or (651) 296-7158. 

The challenges we face are immense, but so too our strength and resilience. Together, we are powerful, and we have so much work to do.

In partnership,


Michael Howard