Public Policy Update: Lots of Wilder Advocacy at the Capitol
Over the past couple of weeks, Wilder staff and community have engaged on a number of different bills at the capitol. Here are some highlights:
- VP of Community Mental Health and Wellness Pahoua Yang testified on a Behavioral Health Workforce Bill House File 970 in the House Commerce and Health Finance and Policy Committees. The bill has now cleared all FOUR committees in the house and is waiting on a senate hearing.
- Children's & Family Mental Health Services Team Member Sara Schmidt testified on a bill to create permanent practices for the use of telehealth with everything we’ve learned since COVID in the Senate Commerce Committee. Sara highlighted the importance of audio-only as a service option that can increase access for clients.
- SPPN Parent Leader Erica Valliant and Director of Public Policy and Community Relations Dominic McQuerry helped rally advocates on Day 2 of Virtual Homeless Days on the Hill. They shared their experience in helping establish the Homework Starts with Home program. Can you spot them in the photo?
Thank you to all Wilder staff and community who have engaged in any way this session. Keep a look out at the bottom of these posts for chances to engage.
There is a lot in the American Rescue Plan
On Thursday March 11, 2021 President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. This is the second largest bill ever passed and is full of provisions that could help many who are struggling due to the pandemic. The $1400 stimulus checks are straightforward, but it will likely take years for us to understand the full impact of this bill, but here are highlights that could directly impact our community.
- Direct Payments - $1400 payments to individuals making up to $75,000 ($150,000 for couples).
- Extended unemployment benefits – the $300/week increase will continue through Sept. 6, 2021.
- Child Tax Credit – The Child Tax Credit was made fully refundable for tax year 2021 and increased from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under 6 years old, and to $3,000 for older children.
- $40 billion for child care related spending
- $52 billion for housing, homelessness and utility assistance
- 4 month WIC increase of up to $35 per month
- Extends the 15% increase in SNAP benefits through September (was set to go through June)
- $1.4 billion for the Older Adults Act including nutrition programs
- Increase in subsidies for some who buy their insurance through marketplaces like MNSure
- COBRA - Bill includes 100% subsidy for COBRA premiums through the end of September.
- $7.5 billion to distribute and administer vaccines
- $46 billion for diagnosing and tracing COVID
St. Paul Community-First Public Safety Commission Town Halls
On March 16 and March 20, the Citizen’s League will be convening town halls to get community input that will help inform the commission they are convening on alternative response models to police for priority 4 and priority 5 calls for service. If you cannot attend, there are alternative methods for submitting input available at the bottom of this page.