I hope you’re doing well, and this email finds you and your family staying healthy. With Minnesota’s positive COVID cases on the rise, and our state dealing with the worst outbreak in the country, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm has announced that booster vaccine eligibility will be expanded this week to anyone who wants one. The waning effectiveness of the vaccine poses a significant threat in our efforts to combat the virus, protect our elders and immunocompromised loved ones, and our hospital capacity. You can find a location to get your booster here. It’s also not too late to begin your initial vaccine series. Minnesota’s vaccine locator can help you find an appointment or walk-in opportunity.
Over 44,000 kids ages 5-11 have received their vaccine since the CDC has approved a version from Pfizer. Vaccines for children are only available with parental permission. Parents can learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens and find where to get their children vaccinated at mn.gov/vaxforkids. I also encourage parents to speak with their pediatrician, family medicine clinic, or local pharmacy about appointments.
Infrastructure in our Communities Across the State
Last week, the House Capital Investment Committee made a stop in Inver Grove Heights to see firsthand what local infrastructure improvements would mean for our community. I’m authoring legislation to make an inclusive play structure a reality for kids in our community with disabilities. All our kids deserve access to inclusive recreation and investing in the Heritage Village Park-Inclusive Playground and Facilities project would serve all children in our region. My legislation would fill a gap in funding for the project, which has already received funding approval from Dakota County and the federal government.
The Committee also stopped at Inver Hills Community College to learn more about their request for state investments to renovate the Technology and Business Center, correct critically dated and deferred maintenance in the building, and make other overdue fixes.
In Eagan, the committee saw the site of a proposed Minnesota Greenway Pedestrian/Railroad Separation project, which would fill a key gap in the regional greenway with a railroad crossing, boardwalks, and other safety improvements, including ADA compliance. I’ll continue to advocate for all of our communities’ projects in the 2022 session.
Federally, Minnesota received good news last week with the President’s signature of the infrastructure bill into law. Our state will benefit with:
$4.5 billion for highways
$302 million for bridges
$100 million for broadband internet
$68 million for electric vehicle charging stations
$818 million for public transportation
$680 million for clean water
MinnPost has a great, comprehensive story on how these figures will keep moving our communities forward and includes bipartisan praise on how we’ll get to work together to make investments in our state’s infrastructure. You can find the article here.
Missing and Murdered African American Women Task Force
Today, the Missing and Murdered Black Women & Girls Task Force held its first meeting. The purpose of the Task Force is to advise the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and report to the Legislature on recommendations to reduce and end violence against African American women and girls in Minnesota. The task force may also serve as a liaison between DPS and agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide services to victims, victims’ families, and victims’ communities. You can find more information here.
Energy Assistance Available
Today’s wind and chilly weather is a reminder that winter is just around the corner, and nobody deserves to be left out in the cold. On October 1, Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule (CWR) took effect. This is two weeks earlier than prior years due to a new law the legislature passed last session. The CWR protects people from electricity and natural gas shutoffs during the coldest period of the year. If you’re behind on energy bills, the CWR allows you to enter a payment plan with your natural gas or electric provider. Check out the Public Utilities Commission website for more information.
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 has been made available for this program with over 600,000 households eligible. More information is available from the Minnesota Department of Commerce.