A coalition of childcare centers across the state today is delivering a message to key state lawmakers about priorities for the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) and state funding for early care and education. "We have a petition with 1,159 signatures from providers, teachers and families in our base of over 500 community-based childcare centers across the state." The "Kids Count On Us" coalition's Kessa Andrews is calling on lawmakers to raise wages for staff, to use childcare assistance program funding to raise the reimbursement rate to 50-percent for families, and to use a small portion allocated for creating a department [...]
President Biden says from May 24th through July 4th, Uber and Lyft will offer everyone free rides to and from vaccination sites: "I think that is really stepping up: both Uber and Lyft, free rides, to -- they'll wait -- and from, they'll take you back home." The president made today's (Tues) announcement at a virtual meeting with six governors, including Tim Walz -- who told the president: "I'll be at the Saint Paul Saints opener, a Twins affiliate, and we're giving vaccinations to folks coming through the gate as they come there. They know that a vaccinated Saints fan is [...]
As lawmakers debate possible ways of ending Minnesota's COVID moratorium on evictions, advocates say the ban on evictions for non-payment of rent should continue for one year, until all federal assistance is distributed. Ivory Taylor with Homeline says: "With the lifting of the federal or state moratorium, as many as 53-thousand Minnesota households are at immediate risk of eviction -- and we know that this disproportionately impacts Black and Brown Minnesotans." Owen Duckworth with "The Alliance" says 25 percent of Black, indigenous and people-of-color households in Minnesota report they're behind on rent -- compared to just nine percent of households with [...]
Backers admit a bill to legalize recreational marijuana that will likely pass the Minnesota House tomorrow (Thurs) has little chance this session in the GOP-controlled state Senate. But Republican Representative Nolan West from Blaine says the strategy is to get the bill into a form that people can feel comfortable with in 2022: "I think it's a better conversation for next year. The budget is way more important than this. We should be focusing on the budget. Why are we doing this right now? It's a next-year issue." Lawmakers are generally more willing to take on controversial policy issues in even-numbered [...]
As lawmakers and the governor wrangle with end-of-session budget negotiations, Republicans are demanding the legislature have control over billions of dollars in federal COVID assistance that's coming to Minnesota. Ham Lake Senator Michelle Benson points to inappropriate spending of federal dollars under what she calls "one-man rule" of Governor Tim Walz: "Tens of thousands of dollars that were supposed to reach specific populations, help them... reduce the spread of COVID. They're supposed to reach tens of thousands of people. There were some of their videos that reached four." Republicans are highlighting other alleged misuse of federal dollars on a webpage called [...]
The Minnesota House Thursday afternoon is set to vote on a bill to legalize recreational marijuana. Leili Fatehi with Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Legislation says that's significant. "This session is the first time we've had an adult-use cannabis bill even get voted out of a legislative committee and it's very exciting that it's gotten voted out of not just one committee but 12 committees and now it's going to the House floor, where we anticipate it will pass there as well." Fatehi admits it's not likely the measure will pass this session in the Republican-led Senate--where Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has [...]
Just over 60-percent of Minnesotans 16 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. Tomorrow the CDC is expected to announce the all-clear in allowing kids 12 and older to be eligible for the Pfizer vaccination. State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says this would mean an additional 300-thousand Minnesotans can roll up their sleeves for the shot: "It's going to take a lot of additional community-based strategies that we've talked about in the past couple of weeks. Mobile vaccination, we're looking forward to partnering with some of our great community events over the summer." Malcolm expects Minnesota [...]
Early recognition can be the key difference between life or death when it comes to suffering from a stroke. Strokes are a leading cause of serious and long-term disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. Leah Roering a stroke specialist with CentraCare says there are several factors that can play into someone having a stroke. Roering says treatment may be available if you get to the emergency room at the first signs of stroke such as balance loss, face or arm weakness, and speech. May is Stroke Awareness Month.
The Federal Unemployment Supplement Insurance program is set to expire in September. Republican Congressman Tom Emmer says the $300 weekly federal supplement is causing many people to choose -- not to go back to work: "Is it their fault that the federal government decided to make unemployment insurance quite frankly more lucrative than going out and earning a wage? That's not their fault. Americans are smart and they're going to collect that money while it's there and then when it's gone, they will go back to work." Emmer is concerned Democrats will push to extend these payments beyond September.
GOP lawmaker says House Dems holding up business, individual tax relief over top-bracket income tax hike
Republican Representative Greg Davids from Preston says the state has permission to use federal "American Rescue" money to reduce state taxes for businesses and individuals who received assistance during the pandemic -- but he says House Democrats are holding that tax relief hostage because they want to increase taxes on wealthy Minnesotans. Davids says there's no way, when the state has a multi-billion-dollar budget surplus and a full "rainy day" fund... "...that you can ask for one nickel from the taxpayers. That's just unconscionable." House Democratic Majority Leader Ryan Winkler responds Republicans are threatening to shut down state parks and cut [...]