Lawmaker's View: Minnesotans' commitment, compassion helping lawmakers navigate
These are unquestionably tough times; and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear Minnesotans care deeply about our state and want to see one another succeed. Minnesotans deserve a great deal of credit during the challenges we’ve encountered for following public health recommendations to keep our communities safe, including taking social-distancing guidelines seriously. This promises to improve the future for all of us. I’m also inspired by the kindness Minnesotans are sharing with one another. For instance, it’s incredible to see so many folks contributing their time by sewing masks.
I was proud lawmakers came together to quickly enact legislation responding to the pandemic. We delivered funding for our public health response, ensured health care providers have the resources they need to provide care for those who need it, and created a COVID-19 Minnesota Fund to aid in a quick response as problems arise. Significantly, we ensured frontline workers will be able to access workers’ compensation benefits if they become afflicted with COVID-19.
Still, significant challenges remain, and House DFLers remain committed to solutions in several key areas. While Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order creating a moratorium on evictions during our current emergency, renters and homeowners who are already facing financial struggles will need to make rent and mortgage payments. House DFLers are working on a plan to invest $100 million in housing resources to help ensure everyone can have a place to call home during this crisis.
Distance learning has meant many hourly school employees — like bus drivers, paraprofessionals, and food service personnel — are in an uncertain situation. While there’s an expectation that districts should compensate these workers for time missed, right now there is no guarantee they will do so. House DFLers are advancing a plan to protect economic security for these dedicated professionals, and it’s time for Senate Republicans to join us on solutions like these to ensure families can make ends meet.
Small businesses and their employees have experienced an unthinkable hardship due to this pandemic due to no fault of their own. It’s no secret that large corporations benefited greatly from federal assistance so far, and House DFLers are committed to ensuring small businesses — our state’s economic engine — can succeed once we emerge on the other side of this. Through targeted, forgivable loans to our small and minority-owned businesses, we can help ensure they can continue to be pillars of our communities.
As difficult as it has been to experience changes like distance learning, being separated from family and friends, and businesses being closed, we need to be thoughtful and responsible in our next steps. The actions we can take to improve our economy will be based directly on the results of our public health efforts. Increased testing, expanded treatment, and more capacity within our health care system will mean we can gradually open more businesses and resume engaging in more activities.
We all want ourselves, our families, and our neighbors to be in good physical health, remain safe, have quality mental and social well-being, and be economically secure. House DFLers share these goals and are committed to solutions to help the people of our state weather this storm and have the opportunity to succeed and thrive again once it passes.
Minnesotans have a significant role to play in ensuring everyone can remain safe and healthy. Keep following social-distancing guidelines; it’s working to slow the spread of the disease. Continue to be kind and patient with one another. Check in on friends, family members, or neighbors who may be vulnerable or isolated.
We are all navigating this crisis together, and will emerge from it together as well.
Rep. Liz Olson, DFL-Duluth, is the House Majority Whip and represents western Duluth’s District 7B in the Minnesota House. She can be reached at email@example.com or 651-296-4246.