The pandemic is not over. We are seeing a strong push by corporate interests to return to business as usual and accept loss of life due to COVID-19 as collateral damage. We must not succumb to this pressure. People have a right to live and work in safety. If workers' safety cannot be assured, than they have a right to refuse work without sacrificing basic needs. Thus far, the overwhelming majority of relief provided by the State of Minnesota has gone to profitable businesses and the wealthy. It's time for us to stop providing handouts to businesses that have thrived during the pandemic. Instead we need to focus on providing relief to regular people small businesses in the industries that have actually suffered.
Resources for Renters and Further Demands
Our senate district has more renters than most, many of whom are suffering from loss of income or work due to the COVID19 emergency. Due to the Evictions Moratorium Offramp passed in 2021, only renters who are eligible and have applied for relief are protected from evictions. If you are behind on rent, please contact a pro-bono housing attorney and apply for relief at renthelpmn.org
- Per the Evictions Moratirum Offramp, it is unlawful for you to be evicted due to non-payment if you are waiting on relief. If you are being threatened with the possibility of eviction, you may file a complaint with the MN Attorney General's office.
- If you are not able to pay your rent this month, the renters' rights organization Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia (a.k.a. IX) has created a form letter for notifying your landlord of non-payment. Note that this will not protect you from eviction, late fees, or retaliation.
- If you have a legal question, IX recommends contacting MN Homeline for free housing related legal advice.
Healthcare for All Now
- One of the key flaws in our employer-based health insurance system is that it is ill suited to deal with a public health emergency that also impacts employment, such as a pandemic. We need MinnesotaCare for All and ultimately Medicare for All. Any Minnesotan who does not have healthcare should automatically be enrolled in MinnesotaCare for the duration of the crisis.
It is to our collective advantage to have sick Minnesotans seek and recieve treatment! Testing should be free to those in need and available to all regardless of health insurance. No one should be responsible for out of pocket costs related to the diagnosis or treatment of COVID19.
Housing, Health and Stopping the Spread
In order to stop the spread of COVID-19, most Minnesotans are social distancing by staying at home. Our homeless Minnesotans do not have this option. Our shelters are overcrowded and underresourced and many remain on the streets. Meanwhile, we have hundreds of ICE detainees and thousands of prisoners in MN who are completely exposed to infection.
- There are thousands of vacant hotel rooms in the Twin Cities Metro area. In addition there vacant housing units owned by the government or investors. For the good of public health, we need to make these available as semi-permanent housing for folks who are currently crowded into shelters or left out on the streets.
- Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has hundreds of detainees in the state of MN. Many in ICE custodee have committed no crime other than the "crime" of being undocumented. We need to release detainees before detention facilities turn into death camps due to the unmitigated spread of COVID19 and other infectious diseases.
- Minnesota is currently home to thousands of prisoners. Many of these prisoners pose little to no risk to public safety. That means we must release those who are incarcerated for technical violations, those eligible for work release, as well as medically vulnerable and immunocompromised prisoners.
- It is up to the state to ensure that all prisons, jails, and detention facilities are adequately equipped to deal with the COVID19 pandemic, including providing enough N95 masks and ventillators to prevent loss of life and medical risk to inmates and personell.
Worker Safety and Dignity in the COVID-19 Era
This crisis has shown us all which employees are truly essential. We made a promise to these workers to compensate them for the risks they have taken during this pandemic. It's time to pass $1500 relief checks to MN's frontline workforce.
Those who have continued to go to work deserve workers' compensation if they become sick. The MN legislature passed a workers' compensation bill to cover what it calls "frontline employees." While the bill does cover our healthcare workers, it leaves out other frontline employees such as sanitation workers, grocery and convenience store workers, and many workers who continue to run our state throughout this crisis. This is an unacceptable.
Times like these underscore the need for statewide paid sick/safe leave.