Last week, our nation began a new chapter with the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. I was inspired by Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb”, a powerful reminder of what’s possible when people work together to build the future we all deserve.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
Here’s the latest news from the Capitol:
Defending and Strengthening Our Democracy
Over the past few months, we have witnessed numerous attempts to undermine the will of voters, culminating in a violent insurrection. Last week, House DFLers introduced legislation to defend and strengthen our democracy at this critical moment. The Democracy for the People Act puts Minnesotans at the center of our democracy and ensures that it is responsive to their needs. It strengthens voter registration and absentee voting, restores the right to vote to Minnesotans on probation or parole, reduces the influence of corporations and wealthy donors, and reforms our state’s campaign finance system to empower small donors. The bill also establishes fair criteria for redistricting and a public process to solicit Minnesotans’ input.
On January 20, the Preventing Homelessness Division – which I’m a member of – was honored to have many people who have experienced homelessness testify on how this has affected their lives. As we heard, many circumstances lead to this situation, from job loss, to mental illness, to domestic abuse, to gentrification and so many more. As a society, we are in a position to address the root causes so that all Minnesotans sleep warmly and safely at night. You can see the testimony here.
COVID-19 Business Assistance
The Minnesota Department of Revenue recently issued $67.3 million in COVID-19 Business Relief Payments to nearly 4,000 restaurants, bars, gyms, and similar businesses. These payments were part of the bipartisan assistance package that the Minnesota Legislature passed in December.
Businesses that didn’t receive a payment but think they meet the program criteria can contact the Department of Revenue through an online inquiry process. The inquiry process will be open until Friday, February 5. An additional round of payments will be made after that date for businesses that qualify.
Vaccine Distribution Update
Last week, the Minnesota Department of Health launched a COVID-19 vaccine pilot program to deliver vaccines to Minnesotans who are 65 or older, teachers, school staff, and child care workers. While educators will receive appointment notifications through their employers, Minnesotans who are 65 or older can make their own appointments at nine locations across the state. Appointments are currently full, but available spots will refresh every Tuesday at noon. Eligible Minnesotans can book appointments online here or call (612) 426-7230.
Unfortunately, the vaccine supply is still extremely limited. We are not yet at the point where everyone who’s eligible will be able to get vaccinated. Governor Walz will provide an update on the distribution plan this afternoon, and I will continue to keep you informed throughout the process.
I appreciate all of the questions, ideas, and input that I’ve received during my first few weeks in office. Please continue reaching out! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4128.