Committee work has kicked into high gear as bills started moving through the legislative process in earnest this week.

On Wednesday, House File 63 was heard in the Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee. This is a bill that I have worked on for a couple of years to be ready by the 2021 deadline for recipients to repay Mille Lacs County the loans that were provided to 30 different businesses located in Crow Wing, Aitkin, and Mille Lacs counties on the shores of Lake Mille Lacs.

This business aid was provided with the help of former Governor Mark Dayton after the closure of Lake Mille Lacs to walleye fishing in August 2015. The program was structured in a way that designated Mille Lacs County as fiscal agent for the grant received from the Department of Employment and Economic Development in 2016.

Joining me during Wednesday’s hearing was Tina Chapman, former owner of Chapman’s Mille Lacs Resort in Isle and head of Lake Mille Lacs Tourism, owner Steve Johnson of Portside, and Mike Wimmer, the economic development manager for Mille Lacs County.

I appreciate the fact that Tina, Steve, and Mike took the time to testify via Zoom in support of this legislation and am thankful that Chair Noor was willing to give this important bill a hearing in his committee.

Stay tuned for further updates on this bill as session continues.

SOCIAL STUDIES STANDARDS DELAYED

Good news this week as the Minnesota Department of Education announced that they will delay the final committee composition of new social studies standards because of “significant” feedback from throughout Minnesota.

Earlier this year, I asked Republican members of the Education committees to support me in urging the Department to reject the first draft of the standards because the standards, written by a 44-member committee, emphasized identity politics over history and civics, causing more division in our society.

The absence of American values and the positive role that the United States has played in world history was problematic.

I am grateful that the writing of these standards has been delayed, thanks to the public outcry from thousands of Minnesotans

LOW INCOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

As Minnesotans continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, I want you to know that there is still assistance available to income-eligible households (both owners and renters) for home heating bills and furnace repairs. The Energy Assistance Program can help by providing financial assistance:

• To pay past due energy bills to avoid disconnection

• To purchase fuel for delivery in emergencies

• To repair or replace homeowners’ malfunctioning furnaces.

The application period is open until May 31, 2021. Click here for more information and to apply: https://mn.gov/commerce/eap.jsp.

STAYING IN TOUCH

Please be sure to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by phone at (651) 296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Sondra Erickson is the State Representative for House District 15A.

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