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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Heather Keeler (DFL)

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Legislative Update: No Special Session, Roe, Medicaid, and more

Wednesday, June 29, 2022


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Dear Neighbors,

It's been announced there will be no special session. I'm extremely frustrated. It's our job to invest in our communities and improve our state. The Senate GOP walking away from that job, and from their budget deal with House leadership, is a slap in the face to Minnesotans. I didn’t realize that the values of working families- affordable housing, accessible healthcare, transportation, fully funded public education- were able to be ignored to this degree.

We spent months negotiating in good faith to be able to use the surplus for our communities. We even came to an agreement on tax cuts (largely for well-off individuals) in exchange for investment in healthcare, education, crime prevention, clean energy, and infrastructure. It seems that GOP elected officials do not want to do the work of explaining to their base that these important investments do not equal big government; they equal adequate government.

Months and months of work this year amounted to nothing because the Senate walked away. I am so grateful for all of the volunteers, advocates, experts, and staff that work tirelessly, crafting and organizing around important legislation. It’s important that we have a legislature that will do the things that people depend on.


What We Could Do

Though I’m angry about the important things that were left on the table, I’d still like to highlight a few wins from this year. We were able pass legislation that:

  • Gave bonuses of $750 or more to hundreds of thousands of frontline workers who did not have the option to work from home during the pandemic.
  • Distributed unprecedented amounts of money to address the opioid crisis.
  • Reduced the cost of health insurance for Minnesotans who use the individual market.
  • Passed a sweeping package of mental health investments and improvements for Minnesotans’ mental health to increase hospital bed capacity, attract new mental health care professionals, and expand the use of mobile crisis units.
  • Made the largest investment in high-speed broadband internet in state history, helping to connect students to classrooms, businesses to customers, and senior citizens to tele-health services.
  • Funded public health infrastructure to keep people healthy and safe as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.
  • Protected and supported veterans and Gold Star families.
  • Replenished funding for Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Program while keeping businesses’ unemployment insurance tax rates flat.
  • Extended the COVID-19 worker’s comp presumption for first responders, including fire fighters, police officers, paramedics, and more.
  • Modernized state liquor laws to support Minnesota’s breweries and distilleries.
  • Funded nation-leading ALS research.
  • Provided financial relief to farmers impacted by the 2021 drought and delivered resources to control and contain the avian influenza outbreak.
  • Divested the state’s pension fund from Russian and Belarusian assets.

What Republicans Blocked

We have more work to do to build a Minnesota where everyone can thrive. I will continue to advocate for: 

  • Affordable and accessible healthcare, including mental health and disability services.
  • Affordable and accessible housing and fair renter protection.
  • 100 percent clean energy.
  • Supporting our students and teachers with the investment they need.
  • Fully funding the Special Education and English Learner programs.
  • Public safety for everyone by enacting meaningful safety and police accountability measures, including a ban on no-knock warrants.
  • Paid family and medical leave and earned sick and safe time. Further worker protections so companies like Amazon can’t harm their workers.
  • Unemployment Insurance expansion for school workers.
  • Corporations paying their fair share in taxes so we can invest in kids, families, and communities.
  • Legalizing and safely regulating cannabis in an equitable manner.
Bonuses Apply Now

July 22nd Deadline to Apply for Frontline Worker Bonus

Workers who were on the frontline of the pandemic have another month to apply for a bonus of up to $750. Money set aside for this program will be split equally among all approved applicants. Minnesotans are very appreciative of those who put themselves in harm’s way and encourage workers to apply if eligible and to spread the word to friends and family. Note: Those who both live and work in Minnesota are eligible.


The Fight to Protect Reproductive Rights

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling which struck down constitutional protection of abortion rights under Roe v. Wade.

Forced birth is not pro-life. For the first time ever, our next generation will have less rights than we did. People deserve to keep their healthcare decisions between them and their provider. Minnesota now has responsibility, as the only state in the region that guarantees reproductive rights, to care for people whose state has failed them. We need to fight back against extremism and protect reproductive rights, for the future of our society. It’s been devastating, but I feel lucky to have a seat at the table to protect the rights we have here in Minnesota.

As part of the Reproductive Freedom Caucus, I attended our press conference last Friday to support the Minnesota After Roe Agenda, which seeks to 1. repeal outdated abortion restrictions in Minnesota, 2. protect abortion providers and patients, and 3. ensure equitable and affordable access for all. More details here.


Post 9/11 Veterans Can Now Apply for Bonus

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) has a long history of awarding service bonuses to Minnesota veterans who served in America’s wars, starting in 1919 after World War I, through World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, and now the Global War on Terrorism. MDVA recognizes the sacrifices and courage Minnesotans took to defend our country.

The 2022 Legislature passed, and Governor Walz signed, the first-ever Veterans Omnibus Bill including funding for a service bonus payable to eligible veterans who served from 9/11/01 to 8/30/21. MDVA is honored to facilitate this program for eligible veterans, currently serving service members, or veterans' beneficiaries. Learn more here.


Governor Walz Announces Effective End to Veteran Homelessness in St. Louis County

This week, Governor Tim Walz announced that the St. Louis County Continuum of Care (CoC) has effectively ended veteran homelessness in partnership with the United State Interagency Council on Homelessness, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Veterans Affairs. Governor Walz also issued a proclamation recognizing the St. Louis County CoC for its hard work and for building the appropriate partnerships to ensure that any veteran experiencing homelessness in the region will quickly get the support they need to obtain permanent housing.

Achieving an effective end to homelessness for veterans does not mean there will never be another homeless veteran. Rather, it means that systems are now in place so efforts can focus largely on prevention, and that when homelessness does occur, the response is rapid, making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.

This is something to celebrate, though I am fighting to make this possible for every part of the state, for everyone. We should adequately invest in our housing and homelessness services so no one falls through the cracks.


Minnesota Extends Medicaid Coverage to 12 Months after Giving Birth

Many new health problems can arise after giving birth, and our healthcare system is not set up to support new parents. In a time where we’re not yet able to pass Paid Family & Medical Leave, great news came with this decision from the Governor.

Minnesotans who qualify for Medicaid because of pregnancy can now maintain the coverage a year after delivery — a significant extension from the previous postpartum coverage that ended at 60 days. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the change on Thursday for Minnesota, Maine, New Mexico and the District of Columbia. As many as 7,000 more Minnesotans will have Medicaid coverage each year as a result, the federal government estimates.

"Every child in Minnesota deserves a healthy start, and that begins with the health of the mother," Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said Thursday during a news conference with Vice President Kamala Harris.

For more information, read the Star Tribune article here.



I was happy to celebrate Juneteenth with our community. Juneteenth is a day to reflect on the legacy of slavery and anti-Black racism in our country, as well as a day of action and change-making. We’re still working to dismantle racist systems. A century after emancipation, our Black communities still face tremendous barriers. I follow the leadership of our Black Caucus, supporting equitable education, healthcare, housing, and environmental justice. Addressing harmful disparities is important for the success of everyone in our community.

This is another area where the Senate wouldn’t agree on good legislation. My colleague and Chair of the Education Policy Committee, Rep. Ruth Richardson, authored a bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday. Senator Kiffmeyer blocked this legislation in conference committee; here’s a clip. Other states have agreed on legislation like this in a bipartisan manner, shown by the map below.


COVID-19 Update

Every home in the U.S. is now eligible to order a third round of free at-home COVID-19 tests. Click here to place your order.  You can also call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).  Also, a reminder Americans over 50 and those 12 years and older who are immunocompromised can receive a second COVID-19 booster shot. More COVID-19 updates are available through the Minnesota Department of Health website, or the U of M Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).


Keep in Touch

What are your thoughts on the news that we won’t be able to have a special session? I would love to hear from you. You can always reach me at Also please take a moment to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more frequent news. Thank you for your attention to this e-update, stay cool out there.




District 4A - 
431 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155

Committee Assignments:
Vice Chair: Preventing Homelessness Division
Education Policy
Environment and Natural Resources Finance & Policy
Higher Education Finance & Policy

Legislative assistant:
Robin Schmidt