I want to start by acknowledging the grief, outrage, and pain that our state and our community are experiencing. The murder of George Floyd is fresh in our minds, and we are still dealing with unprecedented challenges and economic hardship as a result of COVID-19.
Last Friday, the Legislature convened for a special session. My colleagues and I are listening to the people of Minnesota and seizing this opportunity to create meaningful change. Here’s a brief update on what we hope to accomplish:
George Floyd should still be alive today. His death highlighted areas where our state can and must do better when it comes to racial justice. In response, the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus introduced the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020. This package of legislation is the first step towards ensuring all Minnesotans can feel safe in their communities. The proposed solutions – many of which have been discussed for several years – aim to increase police accountability, build trust between officers and the communities they serve, and reimagine public safety. It’s time to enact these long overdue reforms.
The House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee held a public hearing to review each of these bills in-depth over the weekend. If you’d like more details about one or more of the proposals, you can read an overview of the hearing here or watch it here.
While police accountability and criminal justice reform is a good first step, more work is needed to build a state where everyone can thrive – no matter where they live or what they look like. We must address persistent inequalities in other areas of our society, including housing, education, and health care. I will continue working with Minnesotans and other legislators to address these issues.
It was heartwarming to see Minnesotans coming together to clean up and gather food and supplies in the days following George Floyd’s killing. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had many conversations with residents and business owners in our area and in Minneapolis and St. Paul. I’ve also visited businesses and neighborhoods where damage occurred. The impacted communities will need significant assistance to recover and rebuild.
On Monday, House DFLers introduced the PROMISE Act, a comprehensive plan to support Minnesota businesses. The legislation will help rebuild businesses and the neighborhoods where they’re located in an equitable way. Equity is an important part of this process because many of the businesses that were damaged are owned by people of color. More information about the PROMISE Act is available here.
When the House convened last week, our first order of business was approving $62.5 million in grants for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill includes $60 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and $2.5 million from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Emergency Loan Program. Under the bill, small businesses with 50 or fewer employees can receive grants up to $10,000. Priority will be given to Minnesota’s smallest businesses and those that have been required to operate at 50 percent capacity or less. Governor Walz signed this bill into law on Tuesday.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is advising everyone who attended a protest, vigil, or community event to get tested for COVID-19. If you start to feel sick, MDH recommends getting tested right away. If you don’t have any symptoms, you should get tested 5-7 days after the event. You can find nearby testing locations and more information here.
The Minnesota Department of Education is inviting families to share their distance learning experience as they plan for the 2020-2021 school year. The input you provide will inform the agency’s decisions and the guidance they provide to schools this fall. You can take their Fall Planning Survey here.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or if I can be of assistance during these difficult times.