Happy New Year Senate District 25! As we start the legislative year, I am wishing you and your family joy and happiness in the year ahead.
Oath of Office and the First Days of Session
Minnesota’s 2021 Legislative Session officially began on January 5. I, along with 66 other State Senators, took part in a swearing-in to office during a ceremony at the State Capitol.
It is an honor to return to St. Paul and represent the amazing people of Dodge and Olmsted counties. This past year has been incredibly difficult for all Minnesotans, but finally, we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. As we begin this legislative session, Minnesota still faces looming challenges, mostly arrived at as result of the pandemic. This session we will have the task of setting a two-year budget while continuing to work to set the state up to recover from COVID.
I look forward to reaching across the aisle and working bipartisanly to open Minnesota up safely while delivering government efficiently and protecting our taxpayers from out-of-control spending.
Senator Senjem’s Committees for 2021-2022
During the first few weeks of the session, most of my work will occur in Senate Committees. During the 2021-2022 session, I have been appointed to serve on the following committees:
• Chair of the Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy Committee • Vice-Chair of the Capital Investment Committee • Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance
I am excited to serve as Chair of the Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy Committee this session. I truly believe that my work on clean energy issues in Minnesota is among most important work I’ve ever done in my time at the Minnesota Senate. As I have become educated about this issue, my ideas and support for them have evolved.
Over the course of the past decade, I have been working toward a transition to clean, affordable, and reliable energy. My most recent efforts involved authoring the Clean Energy First bill, legislation which would direct the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to prioritize energy efficiency and carbon-free resources when evaluating utilities’ integrated resource plans while also ensuring reliability, affordability, and local benefits to Minnesota citizens and workers.
I am excited for committee work to start in the session and will be updating you on legislation as the committees unfold.
Minnesota’s Budget Forecast
On December 2, the Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released its annual November budget forecast, showing an estimated budget surplus of $1.332 billion for the 2020-2021 biennium. The forecast, which is updated twice each year to reflect the state’s revenues and expenditures, will be used to guide the consideration of a supplemental budget during the upcoming legislative session.
The budget forecast came in more economically sound than was projected earlier last year. Unfortunately, our current economic lockdown points towards darker clouds on the horizon. With Minnesotans suffering and people facing hard financial choices, we should focus on returning the excess funds to our families, seniors, farmers, and main street businesses. That, coupled with responsible government spending that cuts the pork, will put us on the best path forward.
COVID Restrictions Update
As the COVID-19 situation improves by nearly every metric across Minnesota, Governor Walz announced measures that loosen restrictions on important parts of daily life on Wednesday.
I appreciate Governor Walz’s decision today to ease the restrictions on Minnesota businesses and to allow them an opportunity to open up safely and responsibly.
Starting January 11:
• Indoor dining at bars and restaurants can open at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 150 people. Parties of no more than six people must remain six feet from other parties; bar seating is open to parties of two; reservations are required; and establishments must close dine-in service by 10 p.m.
• Gym capacity remains capped at 25 percent but maximum capacity increases to 150 and classes can increase to 25 people, assuming distancing can be observed. Machines and people must maintain 9 feet of distance. Face coverings are required.
• Outdoor events and entertainment continue at 25 percent capacity, but maximum capacity increases to 250 people. Social distancing is required.
• Indoor events and entertainment – like bowling alleys, movie theaters, and museums – may open at 25 percent, with no more than 150 people in each area of the venue. Face coverings are required, and they may not offer food service after 10 p.m.
• Youth and adult organized sports have resumed practice as of January 4 and games resume January 14 with spectators, following the appropriate capacity limits for indoor or outdoor venues. Inter-region tournaments and out of state play are discouraged.
• Pools opened on January 4 for some activity and may now open, like gyms, at 25 percent capacity.
• Wedding receptions and other private parties may resume with limits. If food and drink are served at the event, then they are limited to two households or 10 people indoors and 3 households or 15 people outdoors. If there is no food or drink, they are covered by event venue guidelines. Any related ceremony – like a wedding or funeral ceremony – is guided by rules for ceremonies and places of worship.
• Places of worship remain open at 50% capacity but without an overall maximum capacity.
Please feel free to email, call or text me if you have any questions or concerns
Minnesota State Senate
3401 Minnesota Senate Building
95 University Ave W
St. Paul, MN 55155