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

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Legislative Update – December 22, 2021

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you’re having a safe and happy holiday season. This time of year is full of fun and festivities, and I hope you will create many cherished memories with friends and family. During all of the celebrations, it's important to acknowledge many people in our community and state are still struggling. Our community cares about one another, so please be sure to keep your neighbors who might be having a tough time in mind and be there for them if you’re able.

New Economic Forecast


Minnesota Management and Budget recently announced the latest economic forecast, which will help guide our work during the 2022 legislative session. State officials announced an anticipated $7.7 billion positive budget balance for the current two-year period. This is good news, highlighting the strong economic recovery we’re experiencing.

Still, the contents of a single economic forecast don’t necessarily reflect the difficulties too many families are facing. There’s no question we’re bouncing back from some very dark days of the pandemic, but the recovery has been unbalanced. Workers and families are still encountering significant challenges toward achieving economic security. Meanwhile, large corporations and the very wealthiest among us – who were doing well even before the pandemic – have continued to rake in more and more. As long as we have people in our communities going hungry, experiencing housing insecurity, or facing large medical bills, it means we have much more work to do at the Capitol.

This coming year, I’ll remain committed to using resources available as a result of the surplus to build a state that works better for everyone. By investing in priorities such as expanded child care, paid family & medical leave, resources for students, and affordable health care, our whole state can have the strong future everyone deserves.

COVID-19 Update

The COVID-19 situation in Minnesota remains serious, with hospital admissions increasing and intensive care units nearing capacity. As a result, others needing emergency care – often for non-COVID related conditions – are forced to wait. Overwhelmingly, those with the most serious COVID illnesses admitted to hospitals are unvaccinated. We’ve also eclipsed the grim milestone of 10,000 Minnesotans having lost their lives due to COVID-19.

Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals working in hospitals are physically exhausted and emotionally drained. Leaders from Minnesota’s health care systems recently purchased a full-page ad pleading with Minnesotans to do their part to help end this crisis. If you haven’t yet, please get your COVID-19 vaccine and if you’re eligible, a booster shot. The vaccine is free, safe, and effective toward preventing community transmission. Perhaps most importantly, if you happen to contract COVID-19, the vaccine is remarkably effective in reducing the risk of serious illness or death. Also, wear a mask around others and if you have symptoms, stay home and get tested.

None of this is easy, but especially with the Delta and Omicron variants continuing to spread, it’s important for all of us to do our part to keep one another safe.

Heating Assistance Available

Winter is at our doorstep and while temperatures are forecasted to be mild this week, we know they will drop once again. No one in our state deserves to be left in the cold, and help is available for those struggling with heating bills. Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program helps families pay for current and past-due bills for electricity, gas, oil, biofuel and propane, emergency fuel delivery, and repair/replacement of homeowners’ broken heating systems. Starting this year, the program has been expanded to include water and sewer bills. Over $130 million in federal funding for this program is available with over 600,000 households eligible. More information is available from the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule is also in effect. The rule protects people from electricity and natural gas shutoffs during the coldest period of the year. If you’re behind on energy bills, you can enter a payment plan with your natural gas or electric provider. Visit the Public Utilities Commission website for more information.

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)