This week our second special session in 2020 started, with lawmakers having been called back by Governor Walz to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other urgent issues. Here’s an update from the Capitol.
Please join me for a special Virtual Town Hall Meeting featuring Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison tonight at 5 p.m. The event will be held on my Facebook page.
As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, I work closely with our Attorney General to ensure equity and justice are prioritized for all. Attorney General Ellison is working hard on several fronts for a sustainable and equity-oriented Minnesota. Join us to discuss these actions and how we’re working in the Minnesota House to help reach these goals.
WHO: State Rep. John Lesch, Attorney General Keith Ellison
WHEN: Thursday, July 16; 5 p.m.
WHERE: Rep. Lesch’s Facebook Page
Our special session started Monday after Governor Walz extended the current peacetime emergency due to COVID-19. This action means his administration can continue to access the state’s toolbox and take quick, decisive action to protect Minnesotans through the pandemic.
There is a great deal of other unfinished business for us to tackle, including a Jobs and Local Projects bill – often referred to as the bonding bill. In the House’s proposal, we fund several important priorities in Saint Paul including energy efficiency upgrades at Como Zoo, the Third Street/Kellogg Blvd. Bridge replacement, expansion at the International Institute of Minnesota, facility upgrades at the Minnesota Humanities Center, and more. Not only does this bill make key investments in critical infrastructure, but it would create good-paying jobs at a time when we need them to aid in our economic recovery. You can see the complete list of projects in the Jobs and Local Projects bill here.
We will also continue working to get a strong package of police accountability reforms across the finish line. The Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020 – developed by the Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus – aims to strengthen accountability, reclaim community oversight, and reimagine public safety. George Floyd’s life mattered, and it’s critical that all Minnesotans can expect law enforcement to be delivered in a way that treats everyone with dignity and respects human life, no exceptions.
The small businesses in Minneapolis and Saint Paul impacted by the recent civil unrest deserve the opportunity to rebuild. The PROMISE Act is a comprehensive rebuilding and recovery plan to help businesses rebuild and recover, and House DFLers are committed to ensuring it gets passed into law. Many of the businesses that experienced property damage are minority and immigrant-owned, and areas like the University Avenue, Lake Street, and West Broadway corridors are strong cultural and economic centers in our region, and their vitality is critical to our shared success as Minnesotans.
Here’s a reminder that if you have not yet already done so, it’s important that everyone in our state respond to the 2020 Census. Currently, 70.5 percent of Saint Paul residents have responded, slightly below the state response rate of 71.6 percent. It only takes a few minutes and you can respond online, by mail, or over the phone.
Census data determines how billions of dollars in federal funding is allocated toward priorities like health care, education, public safety, and transportation. It also impacts representation at the local, state, and national levels. As many folks know, Minnesota’s population trends put us on the cusp of losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would result in diminished influence in Washington.
You can respond to the Census online here, by phone, or by mail. Please spread the word! Share this link with your family, friends, and on your social media channels. It’s up to all of us to ensure this process results in a fair, comprehensive count of everybody in our state.
A great way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to vote absentee from the comfort of your own home. Doing this will help protect other voters and election officials, as well as yourself.
Applications are available for absentee ballots for the upcoming primary and general elections here. The online application tool will ask for an email address and an identification number – either a Minnesota-issued driver’s license, Minnesota ID card, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. You can check your voter registration status here and update it here.
Due to rules prohibiting communications like these using state resources after this week, this will be my final e-mail update until after November’s election. While these updates will pause, I still plan on being engaged with the community, including posting updates on my Facebook page, which I invite you to “like” or “follow.” I also invite you to contact me any time to share your feedback or if I can be of assistance.
It’s an honor to serve our Saint Paul neighborhoods as your state representative. I hope you and your family have a healthy, safe, and fun summer.