While much of this week was dedicated to our planned schedule of passing the House’s budget proposals, our community and state were once again thrown into mourning for the life of a black man killed by law enforcement. Daunte Wright’s life mattered. Black lives matter.
The circumstances of his death would have been tragic regardless, but in the shadow of George Floyd’s death and the trial of Derek Chauvin, it can be difficult to see beyond the perpetual grief and trauma our community is facing. I believe we get through these combined moments by working together as a community, and already my heart is warmed by the responses I’ve seen to support Daunte’s family, and in the united call for justice and change.
In the Minnesota House, as a member of the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus, I’m working with my fellow legislators of color to double down on our efforts to push forward meaningful police accountability and public safety measures. The changes we made last summer in the wake of George Floyd’s killing were important, but they were always meant to be the first of many steps.
Under Chair Mariani, the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee has held 21 public hearings about police reform and accountability, 11 of which occurred in 2021. Senate Republicans have not held a single public hearing about police accountability or reform this year. This year, we’re bringing forward commonsense proposals like:
- Strengthening the police officer misconduct database to build a more effective early warning intervention system to keep bad officers off the streets
- Allowing local units of government to establish civilian oversight councils and funding community organizations working to prevent crime in their communities while addressing the need for community healing after a traumatic event
- Prohibiting white supremacists from becoming peace officers
- New limits on the use of no-knock warrants
- Prohibiting altering or destroying body cam footage, requiring footage to be shared with family no more than 48 hours after a deadly force incident, and prohibiting withholding of footage
- Requiring model policing on response to public assemblies
- Requiring the POST Board to prioritize the goal of promoting public safety, including the promotion of human rights — maintaining the basic rights, freedoms, and privileges that belong to every person including the right to dignity, fairness, equality, respect, and freedom from discrimination
We said never again after George Floyd, but more needs to be done. We need to continue to pass measures that make Minnesota a safe place to live and thrive - no matter where you live, or what you look like.
A Capital Investment Bill for All Minnesotans
This week, our work in the House Capital Investment Committee focused on unveiling and taking testimony on our proposal for a 2021 Capital Investment Bill. Capital Investment bills are about more than numbers on a spreadsheet, or even the bricks and mortar they help produce. They are about strengthening communities. Through our work in this committee, we have had the opportunity to help Minnesota emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic challenges by investing in our public infrastructure, creating good-paying job opportunities, and keeping a focus on equity and inclusion - which I believe we’ve done with our bill.
In addition to the traditional capital investment focus on items like higher education facilities, asset preservation, water infrastructure, and roads and bridges that are in this bill, our efforts to look at multiple projects through the lens of equity, climate impact, and affordable housing are also reflected. It would not only help our state bounce back from the hardships of the past year, but also invest in the peoples and issues too often overlooked when it comes to capital projects. This bill will take care of what we have, address the challenges we currently face, and build a better, more inclusive and sustainable future for Minnesota.
This bill faces an uphill battle in the legislature, but I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve put into it, and I’ll continue to fight for its proposals.
Housing, Legacy, and other Budget Bills
Yesterday, we spent most of the afternoon and evening on the House floor, debating and passing our proposals for the House Legacy Amendment and Housing Omnibus Bill. Minnesota faced a housing crisis well before COVID-19, and it’s only been made worse by the pandemic - especially impacting Black, Indigenous, and communities of color like ours. All Minnesotans deserve a safe and affordable roof over their head, and our housing proposal includes:
- Funding for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) for specific programs.
- Establishes the lead safe homes grant program and a task force on shelter resident rights and shelter provider practices and contains amendments to other various programs administered by MHFA.
- Funding for various programs related to affordable housing.
- Provisions related to the Minnesota Bond Allocation Act, residential rental housing/ landlord and tenant law and manufactured housing.