February 2020 Newsletter: What I’ve Been Working On

It’s been a busy month for me in the Senate.

I released my report detailing the state of housing in Minnesota, formed a Bipartisan Rural Working Group, and have been working to ensure our country is properly equipped to fight Coronavirus.

Here’s a bit more about what I’ve done over the past month:

Releasing Report on Findings From My Statewide Housing Tour

If you don’t have a safe, stable, affordable place to live, nothing else in your life works. Which is why we must take steps to address the serious housing shortage across Minnesota. 

Over the past several months, my staff and I have been on a “Statewide Housing Listening Tour” across Minnesota. We made a total of 21 stops, and listened to folks from every kind of community to gather input on how to address the housing crisis. The goal was simple: find solutions so that we can ensure every Minnesotan is able to find affordable housing.

I completed an extensive report on my findings and presented it in Duluth with Mayor Emily Larson. I encourage you to check out the full report here

Forming a Bipartisan Senate Rural Working Group

People who don’t live in small towns or rural areas often think about what these communities lack. But when I visit rural Minnesota, I see a lot of good things happening.
I’ve seen firsthand how leaders and organizations are coming together to do unique and innovative things to not only create jobs and economic development, but to also tackle local problems. It’s long past due we highlight their experiences in our nation’s capital.
So last year I launched a Bipartisan Senate Rural Working Group to lift up local ideas that help rural communities thrive. We’re seeking out successful local ideas and partnerships and want to bring them back to Congress to spur efforts to restore economic prosperity in rural communities across the country. And this month, I convened this group in Washington for the first time. We’ll soon be having more discussions on issues like broadband, energy, housing and education.  

I’m inspired by the spirit, resilience and ingenuity of people I’ve met in rural communities across Minnesota. I look forward to continue bringing local ideas to Washington.

You can see some photos from our first event here.

Calling on Amazon to Protect Workers

Amazon’s impressive rise as a shopping giant has come at a cost, as the company has repeatedly put profits over people.

Amazon’s strict work production quotas are forcing employees to fulfill orders so quickly that they either put themselves at risk of getting an injury or losing their jobs. What’s more, reports from fulfillment centers like the Shakopee Fulfillment Center in Minnesota indicate work-related injuries at Amazon are higher than other private sector employers, and the warehouse industry as a whole.

Working with several of my Senate colleagues, I’m pressing Amazon to take immediate steps to ensure Amazon’s managers treat their workers fairly and do not require them to risk their own health and safety simply to do their jobs.

You can read the full letter I sent to the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, here.

Combatting the Coronavirus

As the Coronavirus continues to spread, I want to highlight a few things I am calling for to ensure that the federal government can operate to combat the virus as efficiently as possible. 
1) We should appoint a dedicated professional to be put in charge of fighting outbreaks like Coronavirus and other global health issues.
2) We need to provide funding for the Public Health Emergency Fund, which was specifically designed for outbreaks like Coronavirus and has been without any support since 2012. It’s time we fund it. 
3) Promises have been made to states that medical testing kits, which screen for Coronavirus, would be given out. This still hasn’t happened in many states and I’m calling on this administration to make good on their promise and fix this issue immediately. 

I talk about this in more detail in my recent Twitter thread.

A final point: the Trump Administration is considering removing tens of millions of dollars from a home heating assistance program, known as LIHEAP, which is designed to help folks across the country—often seniors or families with children—afford heating in their homes during the winter. The administration is doing this in the name of using those funds to fight Coronavirus. 

This should not happen. There is no need to remove funds from such a vital program like LIHEAP,  which helps 315,000 Minnesotans, with the majority living in Greater Minnesota. I will be fighting these efforts and making sure we get the resources we need—from the right places—to help address the spread of the Coronavirus.