The Legislature is currently in a special session, and we’re working to address the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and other important issues. One of our top priorities is passing a strong Jobs and Local Projects bill – or bonding bill – to invest in public infrastructure and create good-paying jobs. The legislation we’ve put forth in the House contains funding for several projects in our area, including a filtration system for Bemidji’s water treatment plant, sewer and water system improvements for Deer River, and the Northwest Indian Community Development Center in Bemidji.
As COVID-19 continues to challenge our communities, we need to ensure critical services can continue. We’re working on several bills to help Minnesotans get support during these difficult times. For example, one of the bills would assist disability service providers. A series of targeted tax cuts for working families, farmers, and small businesses is also on the table.
We’re also working on solutions to help all Minnesotans feel safe in their communities. The killing of George Floyd was inexcusable and should never have occurred. We need to adopt commonsense reforms to prevent similar tragedies. However, we need to move forward thoughtfully and in a way that allows our law enforcement officers to carry out their critical and dangerous public safety mission.
COVID-19 continues to challenge Minnesotans, putting many folks in difficult economic situations. With funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Governor Walz has been able to deliver targeted funding to help people weather the storm.
Child care providers are a vital part of our communities. During the pandemic, many of them have experienced a significant increase in costs due to smaller group sizes and the cleaning, staffing, and workflow changes needed to keep children safe and healthy. Last week, Governor Walz announced that $56.6 million of the funding our state received will be used to support providers who are struggling to keep their doors open. Families seeking care can view a map of open providers here or call the Child Care Aware parent line at 1-888-291-9811.
About 300,000 Minnesotans have visited food shelves each month since the pandemic began. Last week, the governor shared a plan to use $12 million of federal funding to combat hunger. This will help approximately 300 food shelves and seven food banks across Minnesota support an increasing number of visitors. Information about food assistance resources is available here.
On Tuesday, Governor Walz announced that $100 million worth of investments will go toward housing assistance. In addition to preventing evictions and homelessness, this funding will help Minnesotans make rent and mortgage payments and maintain housing security. Minnesotans will be able to apply for assistance with local administrators in August. You can find more information about housing assistance here.
Absentee voting from the safety and comfort of your own home is a great way to protect yourself, other voters, and election officials from COVID-19. You can request an absentee ballot for the upcoming primary and general elections here. The online application will ask for an email address and an identification number – either a Minnesota-issued driver’s license, Minnesota ID card, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. You can check your voter registration status here and update it here.
If you haven’t responded to the 2020 Census yet, here’s a reminder to do so. You can respond online here, by phone, or by mail, and it only takes a few minutes. Please remind your family and friends to respond too. More online, mail, and phone responses means fewer census workers will need to go door to door during the pandemic, which will keep everyone safer.
Census data determines how billions of dollars in federal funding is allocated and impacts representation at the local, state, and national level. The census is extremely critical because Minnesota may lose one of our eight seats in Congress. Your response will help our state keep the Congressional seat and get our fair share of funding for schools, roads and bridges, emergency services, public safety, and more.
This will be my last legislative update until after the November elections due to campaign rules. While I won’t be able to send these emails for awhile, I’m still available to answer questions and discuss issues that are important to our community. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 651-296-5516. I also invite you to “like” or “follow” my Facebook page here.
It’s an honor to serve as your state representative. Have a great summer.