Dear Neighbors,

It has been a busy couple of weeks at the Legislature. The joint House and Senate elected four new members to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and we have been working diligently to pass bills and create the state budget for the next two years. If you would like to discuss any issues affecting you or our community, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Greg Clausen

Condemning Anti-Asian Violence

Earlier this week, eight people were shot and killed in Atlanta, many of whom were women of Asian descent. This horrifying attack comes amidst a drastic increase in anti-Asian violence over the past year, with a disproportionate number of attacks against Asian-American women. This is unacceptable. We condemn this violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander community and mourn the victims of this attack. We hold our Asian American Pacific Islander community members in our thoughts and actions this week following this tragic hate crime in Atlanta.

MN Department of Human Rights: If you experience discrimination, call the Discrimination Helpline at 1-833-454-0148.

Local Updates

Highway 55 and Doyle Path Safety

Safety on Highway 55 at Doyle Path has been a big concern of mine. Law enforcement indicated many accidents in this area over the past few years, resulting in three deaths. The Highway 55 and Doyle Path intersection accident rate is identified as critical. Last year I began meeting with Rosemount city officials, Dakota County Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Rosemount Police Chief Dahlstrom, Dakota County Sheriff Leslie, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and local businesses to create action steps towards greater safety.

One way to address this problem includes dedicated turn lanes at this intersection. The Minnesota Department of Transportation recently notified my office that they can deliver the project earlier than originally anticipated and plan to construct improvements beginning July 2022.

More details and updates HERE.

Minnesota Zoo Virtual Summer Camps

The Minnesota Zoo is expanding opportunities to connect kids with the Zoo this summer. The Virtual Summer Camp is for students Pre-K through 6th grade and will allow students to connect to animals, nature, and the Zoo. The camps will involve at-home crafts, activities, and live interactions with animals via Zoom.

More information HERE.

Latest COVID Guidelines in Minnesota

Minnesota remains cautious and vigilant to protect the progress we have made in protecting Minnesotans from COVID-19, but our numbers are hopeful and the state moved the dial forward in regards to COVID guidelines. As we make adjustments, it is important we continue to wear masks, maintain social distancing, wash our hands, and get a test if appropriate.

To make it easier to safely gather with family, the state is doing the following:

  • Social gatherings: Up to 50 people outdoors or 15 people for indoor gatherings, both without household limits.
  • Wedding ceremonies and religious services: No percentage or capacity limits. Social distancing and masks required.

To support small businesses:

  • Bars and restaurants: Increasing allowable occupancy to 75%, up from 50%, with a limit of 250 people. The limit applies separately indoors and outdoors. Bar seating increases to parties of 4.
  • Salons/barbers: No percentage or capacity limits, but social distancing and masks required.
  • Gyms/fitness centers/pools: Increasing allowable occupancy to 50%, up from 25%.

All venues can open at 50% capacity up to 250 people. Venues with capacity over 500 can add additional guests, effective April 1:

  • Seated outdoor venues can add an additional 25% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 10,000 people.
  • Non-seated outdoor venues can add an additional 15% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 10,000 people.
  • Seated indoor venues can add an additional 15% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 3,000 people.
  • Non-seated indoor venues can add an additional 10% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 1,500 people.

Effective April 15, work from home will be strongly recommended for those who can, but not required. All employers should continue to accommodate employees who wish to work from home and must provide reasonable accommodations as required by law.

Vaccine Update

Minnesota has vaccinated over 70% of those age 65 and older allowing the state to increase eligibility for Minnesotans who will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Due to an increase in vaccine supply, the Walz administration opened vaccines to phases 1b and 1c at the same time, which will include an estimated 1 million Minnesotans.


Providers have been directed to prioritize vaccine appointments for people in the first of these phases. Minnesotans in the second of these phases should look for messages from the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, their employer, or their medical provider to find out when they are able to get the vaccine.

The easiest way for newly eligible Minnesotans to find out how to get their shot is by signing up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector. The Connector will alert users about their eligibility and opportunities to get shots near them, including potential selection for shots at the state’s Community Vaccination Program sites.

Access the Vaccine Connector HERE.

Investing in our Schools and Students

Colleagues and I held a press conference last week to highlight the need of fully investing in our students and schools so that our education system supports all students, regardless of their race, zip code, or economic status.

Watch press conference HERE.

We support fully funding education to provide relief to districts that were affected this past year due to COVID-19 and support efforts to close the opportunity gap within Minnesota’s current education system. Minnesota’s education system has had one of the worst opportunity gaps in the country, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. We need to fully fund our education system so students get a quality education no matter their race, income, or location.

Other priorities include the need to invest in mental health services to support students. A serious issue is that Minnesota has one of the worst student-to-counselor ratios in the country. There is a sense of urgency to address these issues by renewing School Linked Mental Health Grants and increasing the state student-to-counselor ratio. For students to succeed and flourish in their education, we need to look at the whole child and support their mental well-being, along with their academic and non-academic needs.

Another priority for Minnesota is making sure our teachers reflect the increasing diversity in our classrooms. By hiring more teachers of color and creating a diverse workforce, we are better able to respond to the growing diversity in our student population, providing more representation in the classroom and supporting a system that develops opportunities for teachers to grow throughout their careers to better support students.

Equality begins with education and we need to ensure Minnesotans have the training, certificate, and credential opportunities that lead to a fulfilling career. We have brought forward legislation to establish the Minnesota Direct Care Service Corps, job training programs for underserved communities, and more. A vibrant 21st-century economy requires a 21st-century workforce, and we are committed to investing in the programs and resources that can prepare every Minnesotan for success.

Higher Education in Minnesota

The University of Minnesota announced a return to campus for the fall 2021 semester. Read more HERE.

University of Minnesota Board of Regents

The House and Senate met this week to fill four positions on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. The 12-member board oversees the functioning of the University and has eight seats representing Minnesota’s eight congressional districts and four at-large seats.

Regents elected were:

  • CD 1: Dr. Ruth Johnson (Rochester)
  • CD 4: James Farnsworth (St. Paul)
  • CD 6: Kodi Verhalen (Elk River)
  • CD 7: Doug Huebsch (Perham)

PPP Bill Passed in the Senate

Last week the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to match the federal government’s tax-exclusion for forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans received by businesses in 2020. Approximately 102,400 Minnesota businesses received $11.3 billion worth of loans. Typically, forgiven loans are taxable at the state and federal level, but Congress made special exceptions last year. Conforming to that measure will cost Minnesota $409 million over the next two years.

The bill also includes a $28 million tax exemption for unemployed Minnesotans who collected the additional $600-per-week Pandemic Unemployment Compensation approved by Congress for 17 weeks in 2020. The Senate’s bill allows eligible Minnesotans to subtract 18% of these payments from income for 2020.