Another eventful week at the Minnesota Legislature is coming to an end. This week, I’ve been focused on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, finding bold solutions to the climate crisis, and ensuring that our communities have the resources they need during emergencies.
COVID-19 Vaccine Connector
A new tool called the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector is now available to help Minnesotans find out when, where, and how to get vaccinated. It will let you know when you’re eligible to receive a vaccine, connect you to resources to schedule a vaccine appointment, and notify you if there are vaccine opportunities in your area. Signing up is free and easy, and you don’t need insurance or identification. Visit mn.gov/vaccineconnector or call 833-431-2053 to sign up today.
Electric Vehicle Day in the House
In Minnesota, transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. In order to combat climate change and protect our air and planet for future generations, we need to find clean and convenient ways for Minnesotans to travel in their communities and throughout the state. Yesterday, the Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee – which I chair – and the Transportation Finance and Policy Committee held public hearings dedicated to electric vehicles and transportation. Videos of the hearings are available here.
Both committees heard compelling testimony from environmental leaders, transit advocates, union representatives and workers, and automobile dealers and manufacturers. In the Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee, we also heard legislation that would:
- Help utilities and auto dealers prepare for the arrival of more electric vehicles and create rebates to help Minnesotans purchase these cars
- Provide funding for the Met Council to invest in electric buses
- Allow utilities and school districts to work together to establish an electric school bus pilot program
- Install charging stations for electric vehicles in state parks
We’ll keep considering these bills and other bold solutions to the climate crisis next week and throughout the legislative session.
Preventing Extreme Weather and Energy Crises
The suffering many Texans are currently experiencing is heartbreaking. Four million households lost power this week after an unprecedented winter storm. Multiple people have died, and hundreds have gotten carbon monoxide poisoning from running cars or generators indoors to keep warm. Unfortunately, extreme weather events like this one may become more common as our climate continues changing.
The Star Tribune recently published a column that Sen. Nick Frentz and I wrote about the lessons that we should take away from this crisis. In short, the events in Texas underscore the importance of good energy planning, investing in resilient infrastructure, and coordinating with neighboring states. These short-term strategies help keep people safe during extreme cold and heat. However, we also need to address the root causes of extreme weather. We must transition to 100 percent clean energy to prevent similar tragedies long-term.
Protecting Communities During Emergencies
All Minnesotans deserve to live in strong, safe communities. That’s why House DFLers put forth legislation to create a new State Aid for Emergencies (SAFE) Account. The fund would provide assistance when communities experience extraordinary events that exhaust their resources, such as the civil unrest that we saw in Minneapolis after George Floyd was murdered by a police officer. This bill also takes steps to protect Minnesotans’ right to gather peacefully to make their voices heard. You can watch the speech I gave about this bill, which didn’t advance off the House floor this week, here.
Announcing Season Three of the Minnesota Values Podcast
The third season of the Minnesota Values Podcast is here! In our first episode of the year, Rep. Liz Olson and I talked to Rep. Mohamud Noor about delivering economic security to those hit hardest by COVID-19. Rep. Noor is championing a bill that would help Minnesotans weather the pandemic and thrive after it ends. Check it out here or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or feedback. You can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-5375.