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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL)

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Special Session Recap

Friday, June 26, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

The Minnesota Legislature went into a special session on June 12, 2020 and ended at 7am on Sunday, the 21st  with the hopes of passing unfinished and much needed legislation. 

The legislative POCI (People of Color Indigineous) caucus  worked incredibly hard to craft and move legislation around public safety reform. It is so disappointing that my Republican colleagues would prefer the status quo to working with us to create real change. Even though the Senate Republicans decided to pack up and go home, I am committed to coming back for future special sessions to pass these critical bills.

Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020

The House DFL recognizes that we need systemic reform if we are to ever have a public safety system that makes all Minnesotans safer and the House was able to pass a comprehensive package of policing reforms in this special session. We are hopeful that our Senate partners will work with authenticity to reach an agreement in time for the next special session, tentatively scheduled for July 12.

Here is the full list of reforms the passed off of the House floor with a DFL majority:

 

Reclaiming Community Oversight

Putting power into the hands of the people and neighborhoods that police officers are sworn to serve and protect.

  • Retroactive Repeal of Statutes of Limitations (Vang)
  • Warrior Training Prohibited (Richardson)
  • Choke Hold Ban (Moran)
  • Duty to Intercede (Becker-Finn)
  • Police Residency Reform (Hassan)
  • Data Collection and Regulatory Reform/etc. (Mariani)
  • Arbitration Reform (Her)
  • Law Enforcement Oversight Council Reform (Gomez)

Reforming Accountability

Restoring confidence and trust in the systems that are meant to provide justice for all Minnesotans.

  • Use of Force Reform (Moran)
  • Prosecutorial Reform (Becker-Finn)
  • Investigatory Reform (Mariani)
  • Cash Bail Reform (Noor)

Re-Imagining Public Safety

Ending the unacceptable culture that is responsible for the murder of George Floyd and far too many others who look like him.

  • Public Safety Peer Counseling Debriefing (Noor)
  • Police Officer Critical Incident Review (Kunesh-Podein)
  • Community Led Public Safety (Gomez)
  • Mental Health Training (Richardson)
  • Autism Training (Richardson)
  • Restore the Vote (Moran)

CARES Act to Help Local Governments

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Actis legislation delivers $841 million of relief to Minnesota’s counties, cities, and townships - allowing for  new investments in the communities of Minnesota. Unfortunately, this issue became divisive as well and we were unable to come to a final agreement during the Special Session. Thankfully, Governor Tim Walz released those funds with a plan to distribute the funds to communities across the state impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. $841 million will be distributed to Minnesota counties, cities, and towns to support local government coronavirus relief efforts. $12 million will be allocated toward food shelves and food banks. Our communities of Columbia Heights, New Brighton, and St. Anthony will receive $1.5 million, $1.7 million, and $683,000 respectively.

House DFL PROMISE ACT

We also took advantage of the special session to introduce and pass the PROMISE Act to provide immediate assistance in rebuilding neighborhoods that were hurt by the recent unrest in an equitable and community-led manner. We needed to take action and support these communities, which are unfortunately now undergoing a very difficult recovery period.  You can watch our press conference on this legislation here. The PROMISE ACT will:

  • Create a special panel to review cases and provide direct compensation to impacted individuals.
  • Partner with cities and community organizations to create economic relief programs for impacted businesses and organizations.
  • Give local units of government flexibility and tools to prevent gentrification.
  • Direct the Minnesota Department of Commerce to assist business owners, and require insurance companies to notify the department of any rejected claims.
  • Help with the rising cost of leases for eligible residential and commercial properties.
  • Eliminate the sales tax on the purchase of construction materials used to rebuild damaged or destroyed properties. 
  • Provide property and sales tax cuts for eligible properties.
  • Establish a “Metropolitan Area Redevelopment Corporation” to create a long-term plan for equity-driven redevelopment and transformation.

PROMISE Act

Assistance for Small Business

One important bill that passed with strong support is the creation of a $62.5 million fund for small business grants. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees can receive grants up to $10,000 each. This is a very important bill that will provide our local businesses with the assistance they need to continue on during these difficult times. Of the $62.5 million total, there are several areas where the funding is targeted:

  • $18 million for micro-businesses with six or fewer full-time employees,
  • $10 million for minority-owned businesses,
  • $2.5 million for women-owned businesses,
  • $2.5 million for veteran-owned businesses, and
  • $2.5 million for ethnic malls with at least 25 vendors (e.g. Hmong Village, Somali Karmel Mall). Individual grants can be up to $250,000 for each mall owner and must be used primarily for rent forgiveness for mall vendors.

To be eligible, the business must meet the following requirements:

  1. Have a permanent physical location in Minnesota, 
  2. Be owned by a permanent resident of MN, 
  3. Be in good standing with the Sec. of State’s office and the Dept. of Revenue as of March 1, 2020, and 
  4. Demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grants will be awarded by lottery and the funds will be evenly split in their allocation to Greater Minnesota and Metro-area businesses. The process is now open, and applications will be accepted during a 10-day period beginning on Tuesday, June 23, and lasting through Thursday, July 2. You can find more information on how to apply here.

Keep in Touch 

That's all for now -  more than ever before, please reach out with comments and questions at rep.mary.kuneshpodein@house.mn or 651-296-4331. 

 

Stay well, 

Mary KP

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