The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our local governments greatly. Late last week, Governor Tim Walz announced a plan to distribute $831 million in funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to Minnesota’s cities, counties, and towns. Under this plan, the city of Minneapolis will receive $32.2 million in aid to help ensure residents can continue to rely on the public services they depend on. Here’s an update from the State Capitol.
On July 1, several new laws will take effect. Among these is the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which is landmark legislation lawmakers approved this year to help ensure people with diabetes can access the insulin they need to live in an emergency situation, and to create a long-term path to access affordable insulin. The bill is named after Alec Smith, a 26-year-old from Richfield who tragically died when he was forced to ration his insulin because he couldn’t afford to refill his prescription. It’s inexcusable that this could happen to anyone in this country, and this legislation is needed to ensure it never happens to anyone in Minnesota again.
Also taking effect on Wednesday is the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act. It will require drug makers to report the reasons for price increases and provide other detailed information about the cost of manufacturing, marketing and distributing drugs. It would require price transparency for existing drugs, new drugs and newly acquired drugs. This is a major step forward in our efforts to shine a light on high drug prices, and we will keep working on solutions to ensure all Minnesotans can access the medications they need. You can read more about these and other new laws here.
George Floyd should still be with us. In response to demand for change to deliver more robust police accountability and eliminate systemic racism, the House of Representatives approved the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020 during the recent special session. This strong package of reforms – put together by the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus – had three distinct goals: reclaim community oversight, reform accountability, and reimagine public safety. You can read a fact sheet about the legislation here.
Unfortunately – with the world’s eyes on our state to see if we will enact the changes our communities desperately need – the Senate Republican Majority walked away from their job and adjourned the special session, refusing to budge from their small proposals of half measures that didn’t go nearly far enough in addressing the core problems which allow what happened to George Floyd possible in the first place. Their failure to fulfill this key duty is unacceptable, and we will keep working to deliver the solutions our communities are counting on to ensure everyone can go home safe at the end of the day.
Tomorrow night, Wednesday, July 1 at 5pm, the POCI Caucus is holding a Town Hall Meeting about police accountability in Maple Grove at the Town Green Bandshell. We hope you can join us. More information is available here.
The pain resulting from George Floyd’s horrific killing remains with each of us, and enacting bold police accountability reforms is of the utmost urgency. While we advocated for these overdue solutions, businesses were destroyed by unrest, and we have a responsibility to help them rebuild. During the special session, the House approved the PROMISE Act – a comprehensive plan to help businesses rebuild and recover from the recent civil unrest. Many of businesses impacted were Black, immigrant, and communities of color-owned. PROMISE stands for Providing Resources, Opportunity and Maximizing Investments in Striving Entrepreneurs. I was the chief author of one provision in the bill to create the Metro Area Redevelopment Corporation (MARC), which would be charged with developing a long-term plan for equity-driven redevelopment and transformation. About $60 million annually will be generated for this purpose.
The PROMISE Act is our next step to ensure neighborhoods can recover and the small businesses that contribute so much to our community’s vibrancy can thrive again, and while the Senate didn’t approve the bill, we will keep working to deliver these needed resources. You can watch my remarks from the House Floor about this bill here on YouTube.
Today, Tuesday, June 30, at 5:00 pm you’re invited to attend a community forum on the PROMISE Act. The event is taking place in the ballroom at Plaza Verde (1516 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407). Feel free to RSVP on Facebook here.
I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming 4th of July weekend, but I encourage everyone to do so safely. As you spend time with family and friends, keep in mind that we all must remain steadfast in our commitment to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Maintain social distancing, wash your hands often, and wear a mask to protect others.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me whenever I can be of assistance. It’s an honor to represent you.