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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 walked away from that job and from their budget deal with House leadership. They are ignoring the values of working families: affordable housing, accessible healthcare, transportation, and fully funded public education.
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 investments in healthcare, education, crime prevention, clean energy, and infrastructure. It seems that the Senate majority does 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 were squandered 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. My only hope is that we will have a more favorable legislature that will focus on Minnesotan values after November.
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 resources 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 telehealth 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 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.
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 investments 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 22**nd** Deadline to Apply for Frontline Worker Bonus*
Workers who were on the front line of the pandemic have another month to apply [ [link removed] ] 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.
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, and veterans' beneficiaries. Learn more here [ [link removed] ].
*Wrong About Everything Appearance*
I joined the hilarious cast of the bipartisan Minnesota politics podcast, Wrong About Everything [ [link removed] ], for their last episode. We discussed the legislative session, the January 6th commission, and bantered about much more. Listen here [ [link removed] ]!
I was happy to celebrate Juneteenth with our community last weekend. 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. The Senate blocked this legislation in conference committee; here?s a clip. [ [link removed] ] Other states have agreed on legislation like this in a bipartisan manner, shown by the map below.
Every home in the U.S. is now eligible to order a third round of free at-home COVID-19 tests. Click here [ [link removed] ] 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 [ [link removed] ], or the U of M Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP [ [link removed] ]).
*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 [email protected] <[email protected]>. Also please take a moment to follow me on Facebook [ [link removed] ] and Twitter [ [link removed] ] for more frequent news. Thank you for your attention to this e-update. Stay cool out there!
PS: Here?s my cat?s cool new hairdo.
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