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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL)

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Legislative Update: March 10, 2021

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
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Happy Women's History Month!

It's important to celebrate the daring actions of women in our history while still pushing forward progressive child care policy and paid family medical leave, both of which disproportionately impact women. This week we have some good news about the state of vaccine distribution in Minnesota, and some updates from the capital.

Ban the ‘Gay and Trans Panic Defense’

I have recently introduced legislation in the house, accompanied by Senator Scott Dibble's bill in the Senate, to ban the use of a person’s perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity as a defense for assaulting or murdering an LGBTQ person. This legal argument asks a jury to rule that a same-gender sexual advance is enough of a provocation to excuse a defendant’s violent reaction, even including murder.

While a bill like this is overdue, having this conversation and moving through a ban like this is extremely vital to the health and safety of the LGBTQ+ community in Minnesota. 

Sen. Scott Dibble, Ellen J. Kennedy, and I recently released a statement on the importance of addressing this issue. You can read more about it here


New Course at Mitchell Hamline

In addition to the bill, I invite you to read more about the new course at Mitchell Hamline that focuses on transgender rights and the law, further highlighting the need to shed more light on the unsafe legalities and disparities faced due to gender identity and sexual orientation in Minnesota. 

Profs Ellen Kennedy and Tara Kalar ’12 are the class’s instructors.

Virtual Visit With the Como Zoo

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory has been around for over a hundred years, building community through art, nature, and education. Last week, I brought some friends to testify before the Legacy Finance Committee to expand investments to Como Zoo, and help preserve our Saint Paul treasure. 


Caring for Children in Foster Care

It’s time for Minnesota to rethink how we license foster care providers. Family foster homes are not a business, and we need to regulate unsafe conditions with higher caregiving standards that prioritize the health and safety of children. We know when children are safe and healthy, they show higher graduation rates, decreases in mental health disorders, and less overall trauma. 

Last week, I presented House File 1287 before the House Human Services Finance and Policy Committee to modify licensure and background studies for applications for family foster setting licenses. The committee heard testimony from field experts Joanna Woolman, Alexis Oberdorfer, and Kate Rickord in support of the bill, which passed the committee with a bipartisan vote and was referred to the Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

All Minnesota children deserve to be cared for, and this bill is another step in that direction. 

Legislation Criminalizing Transgender Girls from Participation in Female Athletics

Recent legislation in Minnesota, proposed by Republican Rep. Eric Lucero, would restrict transgender girls from participation in female athletics and charge them with a crime for participation. A similar bill was heard in the Senate two weeks ago. 

This bill serves no other purpose than to demonize a group of people who are already highly susceptible to violence, discrimination, and systemic oppression. The real purpose of this legislation is to instill fear in our community and promote transphobia.

If no one is free until all of us are free, then liberation starts with tearing through every barrier, every wall, and every discriminatory policy that criminalizes the rights of trans and gender-nonconforming people. Our children deserve to explore their passion for sports without restrictions.

You can read the joint statement here.

Legislation to Remove Limitations on Sex Crimes

In my last newsletter, I highlighted my new legislation (House File 1121) which would eliminate specific requirements for indictments or complaints on sex offenses. Last week, the bill passed through the House Public Safety Committee with a unanimous vote, gained several additional co-authors, and was referred to the Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

I am working directly with constituents, experts, and my colleagues in the legislature to make sure this bill makes it to the House floor. We need to lift barriers that prevent justice from being served for sexual assault survivors.


Minnesota Vaccine Distribution Update 

We just received great news: Minnesota is expanding vaccine eligibility on Wednesday, March 10 as the state reaches its goal of vaccinating 70% of Minnesotans 65 years of age and older. At our current pace, Minnesota is now several weeks ahead of schedule. More than 1.8 million Minnesotans will become eligible to receive a vaccine beginning this week.

Now eligible

Phase 1b Tier 2 populations include: 

  • Minnesotans with specific underlying health conditions: Sickle cell disease, Down syndrome, those in cancer treatment or immunocompromised from organ transplant, oxygen-dependent chronic lung and heart conditions (COPD & CHF)
  • Targeted essential workers: Food processing plant workers
  • Minnesotans with rare conditions or disabilities that put them at higher risk of severe illness

Phase 1b Tier 3 populations include:

  • Minnesotans age 45 years and older with one or more underlying medical conditions identified by the CDC
  • Minnesotans age 16 years and older with two or more underlying medical conditions*
  • Minnesotans age 50 years and older in multi-generational housing
  • Essential frontline workers: Agricultural, airport staff, additional child care workers not previously eligible, correctional settings, first responders, food production, food retail, food service, judicial system workers, manufacturing, public health workers, public transit, and U.S. Postal Service workers

All Minnesotans who have not received a vaccine should sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector to get regular updates on vaccine availability and eligibility. In some cases, health care providers or employers will have more information for patients or employees on vaccine availability. Minnesotans can also call the translation hotline at 833-431-2053 for assistance signing up over the phone.


Get Involved and Stay In Touch

Public hearings are a great opportunity to learn and participate in the legislative process. All of them are live streamed on one of the House webcast channels, and you can view the agenda and materials that legislators receive on each committee’s webpage. If you can’t catch a hearing live, they’re usually uploaded to House Public Information Service’s YouTube channel later that day. I encourage you to check out the hearing schedule and get involved!  

For any questions you have on the resources available to our community or our work in the Minnesota House, please feel free to contact my legislative assistant Sonia Romero at or 651-296-4307. 

In Solidarity, 


Athena Hollins

Minnesota State Representative (House District 66B)