SAINT PAUL – Following a proclamation from Governor Tim Walz, the Minnesota Legislature convened in special session Friday. Among other priorities, lawmakers will work to reach consensus on items unfinished in the regular session, and enact criminal justice reforms following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
“In this special session, Minnesotans are counting on us to get important items across the finish line to assist small businesses and local communities which have been struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Liz Olson (DFL – Saint Paul), the House Majority Whip. “On top of the health and economic challenges we’re facing, George Floyd’s killing has served as a call to action to lift up voices of black and brown Minnesotans toward meaningful changes. All Minnesotans deserve to be safe and healthy during this pandemic and beyond, and I’m hopeful we can work together to start dismantling structural racism and ensure every single Minnesotan can return home safely at the end of the day.”
“We have significant work to accomplish in this special session to protect the health and economic wellbeing of Minnesotans, and to ensure our state can continue to address the threat of COVID-19,” said Rep. Jen Schultz (DFL – Duluth). “We also need transformational changes to policing, criminal justice reforms, and new policies to address racial inequities, the trauma from which people of color have experienced for generations. We have a lot of work to do – the eyes of the world are on Minnesota, and the time to act is now.”
House DFLers are focused on four major areas: getting financial assistance to local governments and small businesses to deal with the impact of COVID-19, completing unfinished business from the regular session — including passing a Jobs and Local Projects bill — enacting legislation on police accountability and criminal justice reform, and rebuilding communities that have suffered property damage.
On Friday, the House approved legislation to deliver $62.5 million in grants for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill – which includes $60 million from the federal CARES Act – focuses on Minnesota’s smallest businesses, many of which are not as well-connected with private banks, and that were required to operate at 50 percent capacity or less as of May 18. The funds will be evenly split in their allocation to Greater Minnesota and Metro-area businesses.