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2014 Legislative Update

During the last couple weeks, the MN Legislature passed several important bills that affect our community’s well-being.  Here is an update:

English Language Learner bill

The omnibus early childhood through grade 12 education budget bill passed with bi-partisan support on April 4, 2014.  Of its many provisions, the most relevant to our Asian Pacific Minnesotan community is Article 3 regarding English Learners.  It requires early childhood literacy program providers to use a culturally relevant integrated approach to literacy and extended the time a qualifying EL student may generate aid to attain English proficiency from 5 to 6 years.  Many of our community members are recently-arrived immigrants and refugees, and therefore will benefit from this legislation.

Anti-bullying Bill (Safe Schools Act)

After its passing by the both the House and the Senate, Governor Dayton signed into law the Safe Schools Act on April 9, 2014.  This legislation requires all Minnesota school districts to develop and execute a plan to reduce bullying.  The MN Department of Health and Department of Education found that 54% of Asian Pacific teenagers reported bullying in the classroom compared to 31% of their White peers.  Our Asian Pacific Minnesotan community is relatively young, with 31.5% of our population under age 18, compared to the rest of the state at 24.2%.  A significant number of our youth are refugee-experienced English learners in public schools who will benefit from this legislation.

Women’s Economic Security Act

The House passed this legislation last week, which strives to break down barriers to economic progress facing Minnesotan women and their families, and therefore affects all Minnesotans.  Among its many provisions, it aims to close the gender pay gap, strengthen workplace protections and flexibility for pregnant women, expand access to high-quality and affordable childcare, enhance protection for victims of domestic violence, and expand employment opportunities for women in high-wage, high-demand professions as well as support growth for women-owned small businesses.  Our Asian Pacific Minnesotan women, especially those who are working mothers and wives, will be helped by this legislation.

Minimum Wage Bill

After passing both the House and the Senate, Governor Dayton signed into law the Minimum Wage bill on April 14, 2014.  By August 2016, Minnesota’s minimum wage will be raised to $9.50/hour for large businesses and $7.75/hour for small businesses and indexed to inflation.  This legislation will affect more than 350,000 Minnesotans who work at or below minimum wage.  Asian Pacific Minnesotans’ per capita income is $25,121, compared to White Minnesotans’ per capita income of $32,750.  Some ethnic communities within our Asian Pacific Minnesotan population who have much lower per capita income will benefit from this bill.

Thank you for reading this legislative update.  The legislative session is in recess from April 11 to April 21, 2014, and will reconvene on April 22 until May 19, 2014.  Our Council’s legislative agenda can be found on our website.  Please don’t hesitate to contact our office with your questions and thoughts on any legislative matter.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Additional LIHEAP Funds $15,814,434 to Help Minnesotans Stay Warm

MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

For Immediate Release

January 30, 2014

Commerce Commissioner announces $15,814,434 in additional LIHEAP funds to help Minnesota consumers stay warm this winter

SAINT PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced today that Minnesota will receive an additional $15,814,434 in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the Energy Assistance Program (EAP). The total amount of funds Minnesota has received this year is $114,540,746.  The LIHEAP program in Minnesota helps low-income homeowners and renters pay heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of customers.

This announcement is critical for Minnesota’s low-income households, especially those with seniors, young children, veterans, and people with disabilities.  The ongoing sub-zero, arctic weather and sky-rocketing propane prices have added additional stress to family budgets.  To address this need, the Department of Commerce recently increased crisis benefits from $500 to $1,000 for households that heat with propane or heating oil.  The additional LIHEAP funds announced today is greatly needed and with projected sub-zero temperatures continuing in the next few weeks, the State of Minnesota is calling on Congress to provide additional funding.

“These critical federal dollars will make a difference to help Minnesotans who struggle to pay for home heating and make ends meet in the cold winter months ahead. The Minnesota Commerce Department has and will work hard to make sure these funds best help low-income families and individuals in need of energy assistance,” said Commissioner Mike Rothman. “No Minnesotan should be without a warm place to call home during this bitterly cold winter.”

The Minnesota Department of Commerce administers the LIHEAP in partnership with 32 local service providers throughout the state. LIHEAP is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program helps renters and homeowners earning less than 50 percent of the state’s median income ($42,789 for a family of four) obtain grant money to help pay their heating bills.  Last year, Minnesota served 147,636 households and renters with $109 million in federal funds.

How to apply:

Qualifying families must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area. Funding is limited and is administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested households should contact their local service provider by calling 1-800-657-3710 or visiting the Energy Assistance section of the Commerce Department’s website (mn.gov/commerce/energy). The Minnesota EAP is supported by federal LIHEAP funding and administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

State Emergency Operations Center:

Governor Mark Dayton declared a State of Peacetime Emergency in Minnesota in response to the persistent cold weather and the increased risk households may run out of heating fuel, a situation that would pose immediate threat to public safety. This declaration activated the state’s emergency operations center housing a hotline for Minnesota residents with questions about the current propane situation or who are in danger of running out of heating fuel.  Minnesotans can call 651-297-1304 in the metro area or 1-800-657-3504 in greater Minnesota.

What consumers and Minnesota residents can do to stay safe:

People who use propane to heat their homes can take several steps at this time.

  • Conserve energy as much as possible. Turn down thermostats and be aware of your propane use.
  • Check in on your family members, neighbors and friends.  Call 9-1-1 only in a crisis
  • State Hotline and Department of Commerce online resources are available

o   1-800-657-3504 in greater Minnesota

o   651-297-1304 in the metro area

o   Department of Commerce Energy Assistance Program Section

Use Alternative Heat Sources Safely:

People often turn to alternative heat sources to stay warm when the temperature plummets. The State Fire Marshal (SFM) reminds residents to use caution when using alternative heating sources.

Types of alternative heating sources often seen include:

  • Portable electric heaters
  • Liquid-fueled heaters:
  • Kerosene
  • Waste oil
  • Gas-burning heaters – Propane is most common
  • Solid-fuel heating:
  • Wood-burning
  • Pellet-burning

Any heating appliance with an open flame needs to be vented to the outside because the combustion process of burning fuel uses oxygen and also gives off carbon monoxide — a deadly combination inside of a home.

Other tips when using alternative heat sources:

  • Keep anything flammable — including pets and people — at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Make sure portable space heaters have an automatic shut-off.
  • Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Space heaters need constant watching. Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep. Never place a space heater close to any sleeping person.
  • Make sure all cords on electric heaters are in good shape and checked periodically for any frays or breaks in the insulation surrounding the wires.
  • Check the cord and outlet occasionally for overheating; if it feels hot, discontinue use.
  • Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
  • Use a heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters will have the most up to date safety features; older space heaters may not meet the newer safety standards.

Stay Warm Minnesota

Other forms of assistance may be available through county social service programs, community-based organizations, and nonprofit agencies. See the Stay Warm Minnesota Webpage for a list of resources.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Community news, Resources

 

Small Business and Housing Resources Fair

The Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA) will be hosting a Small Business and Housing Resources Fair this weekend on Saturday January 18 at Hamline University Anderson Center from 10:00am – 3:00pm.

All attendees will learn how to start business, where to get business loans, renter rights, and how to buy a house. Interpretation in Vietnamese, Hmong, Lao, and Karen will be available.

Please contact AEDA for questions or concerns at 651-222-7798 or info@aeda-mn.org

AEDA_SBHRF_program

SBHRF_organizational_flyer_english

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Saint Paul Public Library: Call for Submissions – Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators

SAINT PAUL — The Saint Paul Public Library seeks to support Karen-speaking families in our community by publishing two bilingual children’s picture books in English and Karen. We are seeking authors and illustrators to submit work in English or Karen. The target audiences are beginning readers, from birth to kindergarten. Each book will have to have 20 pages of text and illustrations.

The selected authors and illustrators will receive a one-time stipend based on market rate compensation, dependent on qualifications and final budget.

Deadline for submissions: January 17, 2014

Selected authors will be notified by January 31, 2014 and will assist in selecting their illustrator

Selected illustrators will be notified by February 14, 2014

The authors and illustrators are expected to work together to complete the project by April 18, 2014

Design layout will be provided by Saint Paul Public Library, working with authors/illustrators

Please submit the following information and materials to apply:

- Full name
– Telephone number and/or email address
– Brief biographical statement

For authors: two or more samples of work and one idea for a book AND/OR one completed, unpublished original piece

For Illustrators: three or more samples of work. Original pieces of work will only be returned with included postage paid packaging. We accept art samples from website URLs

Please submit documents through mail, email, or fax:

Pang Yang

Saint Paul Public Library
90 W 4th St
Saint Paul, MN 55102

-OR-

Email to pang.yang@ci.stpaul.mn.us

Electronic documents must be submitted in Word or PDF format

-OR-

Through fax to 651-266-7060, ATTN: Pang Yang, Submission

Please send questions or comments to pang.yang@ci.stpaul.mn.us or 651-266-7077

Call for Submissions – Karen Authors and Illustrators

- See more at: http://www.sppl.org/about/library-news/call-submissions-children%E2%80%99s-book-authors-and-illustrators#sthash.kcS6SMKi.dpuf

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

2014 Tet Festival

Join the Vietnamese Community for their New Year celebration! January 25, 2014 from 2pm – 10pm at the Union Depot 214 4th St. in Saint Paul. FREE admission! Contact Hieu Tu for more information at 763-218-4928 or Tiffany Le at 651-399-0212

 

tet2014

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

An Evening with Ka Vang: Artivism — Creating Community Through the Arts

Spend an evening creating art with Ka Vang, Twin Cities Hmong American writer, educator, and “artivist.” During the course of the evening, Vang will read selections from her work, guide the audience in creating a community poem, and discuss how she uses her writings as a tool for social justice and to fight against injustice and oppression. Through interactive exercises, audience members will be encouraged to reimagine common folktales, stories, and poems in innovative ways.

 

Date: Thursday, February 6, 2014
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Location: Minnesota Humanities Center
Cost: $10, includes light snack and materials
Intended Audience: K-12 Educators
Clock Hours: 2 clock hours available upon request

 

For more information and to register, visit: http://mnhum.org/mno

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

State Announces New Plan on Homelessness and Rental Assistance

(St. Paul, MN) – State officials joined Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges today at Jackson Elementary School in Frogtown to announce Minnesota’s new Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The event also celebrated the first funding award under the plan, which allocates $2 million for rental assistance for homeless and highly mobile families with children to improve school performance.

The Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness, a collaboration of the Commissioners of 11 state agencies created by Governor Dayton, detailed strategies and actions under two major goals in the plan: 1) Prevent and End Homelessness for Families with Children and Unaccompanied Youth by 2020; and 2) Finish the Job of Ending Homelessness for Veterans and for People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness by 2015.

Council Co-Chairs Mary Tingerthal, Minnesota Housing Commissioner and Lucinda Jesson, Department of Human Services Commissioner, stressed the importance of stable housing for a thriving Minnesota. More than 248,000 residents pay more than half their income for housing.

“Preventing and ending homelessness matters to Minnesota’s future. It is shocking that more than 10,000 Minnesotans are homeless on any given night and simply unacceptable that children and youth make up nearly one-half that number.” – Mary Tingerthal, Commissioner, Minnesota Housing

This bold new plan establishes accountability for Commissioners and staff of participating state agencies and builds on what is already working to end homelessness. The plan marks a renewed statewide effort that began ten years ago with a plan to end long-term homelessness. That plan called for and successfully created 4,000 new supportive housing opportunities for people experiencing long-term homelessness.

“The imbalance between housing costs and incomes seriously undermines our state’s ability to improve educational outcomes, build a resilient workforce, and create a stronger Minnesota. This plan sets us on a path to both prevent and end homelessness for more families and individuals.” – Lucinda Jesson, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Human Services

In addition to launching the new Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, Brenda Cassellius, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education attended the event at Jackson Elementary school to draw attention to the increasing number of homeless and highly mobile children. During the
last legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature approved funding of the Rental Assistance for Highly Mobile Students Initiative.

The initiative provides rental assistance for up to 24 months, as well as supportive services for families with school‐aged children who move frequently. The goal of the initiative is to allow children to attend the same school without interruption through the school year to improve attendance rates and student achievement. Funding was awarded to the following organizations:

Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, working with St. Paul Promise Neighborhood $875,000
Project for Pride In Living, working with the North Side Achievement Zone in Minneapolis $800,000
Clay County HRA, working with the Moorhead Public Schools $325,000

“Children who experience costly interruptions to their learning are at greater risk of lowered achievement. This initiative is one more important piece in our efforts to better support Minnesota students, allowing them to focus on their number one job: learning.” – Brenda Cassellius, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Education

The Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness includes Commissioners from eleven state agencies including: Corrections, Education, Employment and Economic Development, Health, Higher Education, Human Rights, Human Services, Housing, Public Safety, Transportation and Veterans Affairs.

This is a joint press release from the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Minnesota Housing Finance Agency:
http://mn.gov/dhs/images/State%2520Homeless%2520Plan%2520NR.pdf

For more information:
Contact Jeremy Drucker at 651.431.2920 (office) or 651.263.7632 (cell)

Wilder Foundation: webmaster@wilder.org or 651.280.2000
Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood: promiseneighborhood@wilder.org
Project for Pride In Living: ppl@ppl-inc.org or 612.455.5100
Northside Achievement Zone: 612.594.8286 or Jillian Kahn jkahn@the-naz.org

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
 
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