It’s been a difficult week for Minnesota. While we saw Derek Chauvin found guilty of murdering George Floyd, yesterday, Daunte Wright was put to rest after being killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer. Our community continues to experience unnecessary trauma, and we can only fix this through structural changes to our public safety framework that put human rights and human dignity at the forefront.
At the Capitol, much of our work has moved from committees to the House Floor where we’ve had lengthy debates over the bills that comprise a new two-year state budget. These are the budget bills we’ve passed so far:
We have one more remaining: Health and Human Services, which we will consider Monday. After that, joint House/Senate conference committees will meet to develop compromise legislation that both bodies can agree to. This will be difficult work. While House DFLers have been working to make the important investments in education, health care, economic security, and racial justice, Senate Republicans have focused on indiscriminate cuts coupled with tax breaks for the wealthiest Minnesotans and large corporations, many of whom are doing better than ever while workers, families, and small businesses continue to struggle due to the pandemic. Our state budget isn’t just a financial document; it’s a moral document. I’ll keep fighting to ensure all Minnesotans can truly emerge from this pandemic with the opportunity to succeed and thrive.
Last summer following the murder of George Floyd, lawmakers passed the Minnesota Police Accountability Act and the governor signed it into law. The bill included changes to deadly force standards, a ban on “warrior training” and choke holds, requiring the duty to intercede, investigation and arbitration reform, and expanded training. This was only meant to be the beginning of our work to ensure all Minnesotans can have safe, respectful interactions with law enforcement, along with the accountability and justice they deserve.
Earlier this week, I was proud to support the House DFL’s Public Safety, Criminal Justice Reform, Judiciary, and Civil Law budget. In this bill, we continue the important reforms to ensure our state’s public safety framework has human rights and human dignity at the forefront. The bill also includes the funding necessary to ensure these overdue reforms can come to fruition. Here is a list of the reforms and accountability measures the bill includes.
Systemic racism, and the historical trauma we still experience, are the major reasons we continue to struggle within our public safety systems. Ignoring this fact will lead to the status quo prevailing, which is an unacceptable outcome for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Please watch my remarks from the House Floor as we started debate on the legislation.
Thousands of appointments to receive a COVID-19 Vaccine are available at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. You can schedule an appointment by signing up for the state’s Vaccine Connector or by calling 1-833-431-2053, and support is available for multiple languages (translators are also available on-site). The location has an ADA accessible drive-through option, and free Metro Transit passes are available for everyone who registers.
As of this week, 54% of Minnesotans age 16 or older have received at least one dose. Having as many people vaccinated as possible is the most immediate, significant action we can take to move past this pandemic. Please register to get your shot.
The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency has launched RentHelpMN, a portal for low- and moderate-income renters to get assistance to catch up on overdue rent and utilities. While Minnesotans were displaced from their jobs, the eviction moratorium was an important step to ensure housing security and prevent homelessness. Minnesota has received about $375 million for emergency rental assistance.
Renters can apply directly or learn more about the application process by visiting renthelpmn.org. Download the Renter checklist to see if you’re eligible and find out what documents you’ll need in order to be ready to apply. There are also resources available for landlords. I encourage you to take advantage of this assistance if you’re eligible.
In addition to rent, many families might also be behind on heating bills. On top of the difficulties Minnesotans were already facing due to the pandemic, February’s polar vortex in the southern United States led to a nationwide spike in natural gas prices, which unfortunately too many people are now facing on their heating bills.
Help is available from the state’s Energy Assistance Plan, including for utility payments, help with disconnections or fuel deliveries, and repair or replacement of heating systems. Visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce for more info.
Please feel free to reach out throughout the session to share your feedback, offer your ideas, or let me know if I can be of help. It’s an honor to represent you.