It’s been an exciting week at the Capitol! Today, Governor Walz announced that all Minnesotans who are 16 years old or older will be eligible to get vaccinated next week. While the state won’t have enough doses for everyone to make an appointment immediately, the vaccine supply that we receive from the federal government will continue growing over the coming weeks. We’ll need to remain patient, but this is a significant step forward!
If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, I encourage you to check out the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector. This tool can connect you to resources to schedule a vaccine appointment and alert you if there are vaccine opportunities nearby. You can sign up at vaccineconnector.mn.gov or call 833-432-2053.
In other news, the House passed several important bills this week! Here’s more information about the legislation we took up to support our students and the heroes of this pandemic:
On Monday, we passed a summer learning plan to help students recover from any difficulties they’ve faced due to COVID-19 and get back on track. The plan provides funding for summer programs, tutoring, hands-on learning opportunities, mental health services, and more. These critical investments will help meet students’ academic and emotional needs and ensure that they have every opportunity to succeed. I was happy to cast my vote for this important legislation.
Over the past year, frontline workers have made many sacrifices in order to keep the rest of us safe and healthy. While many of these workers are now eligible for vaccines, doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, police officers, correctional officers, and the child care workers who look after their children are still in vulnerable positions.
The Legislature passed a bill to ensure frontline workers would receive workers’ compensation if they contracted COVID-19 or were exposed to it on the job last year, but that provision is set to expire in May. Yesterday, the House voted to extend that deadline. Saying “thanks” to the heroes of this pandemic is not enough; we need to back up our words with action.
Minnesotans shouldn’t be forced to choose between earning a paycheck and taking care of themselves or their loved ones. COVID-19 has highlighted how important it is to be able to stay home when you’re sick or caring for a family member, for your own health and the health of others. However, many workers don’t have that ability; more than 900,000 Minnesotans don’t have access to sick time or paid time off. Yesterday, we passed a bill that extends these basic benefits to all workers.
Under this legislation, workers would earn at least one hour of paid Earned Sick and Safe Time for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours per year. Minnesotans can use this time to tend to their own physical or mental health needs, a family member’s needs, or for an absence related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Women, especially women of color, are still often paid less than men with the same job, education, and experience. For every dollar that a White man is paid, Asian women make 85¢, White women make 82¢, Black women make 61¢, Indigenous women make 58¢, and Latina women make 53¢. For that reason, employers that use pay history to evaluate job applicants and determine compensation for new hires may perpetuate gender- and race-based discrimination. The Preventing Pay Discrimination Act, which the House passed this week, puts an end to this practice. It’s a key step toward closing the wage gap and ensuring that all Minnesotans get equal pay for equal work.
Many Minnesotans who work at hotels, airports, event centers, and related businesses were laid off last year. Since many people are still avoiding travel and large events, some of these workers – the majority of whom are women, people of color, or both – haven't been able to return to their jobs. They’re asking to have the opportunity to return to their jobs when their employers are ready to bring people back to work. In response, I voted for a bill that would help hospitality and service industry workers regain the jobs they had before the pandemic.
If you haven’t responded yet, please take a few minutes to complete my legislative survey. Your input will help inform my decisions as we approach the last few weeks of the legislative session. Thank you to everyone who has already shared their feedback!
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 651-296-4128 if you have any questions or comments that you’d like to share. I always appreciate hearing from you.