A week long special session ended on Saturday morning following intense negotiations on a variety of issues between the Senate, House, and Governor Walz. Ultimately, little was agreed to on the major issues facing the legislature including police reform, a bonding bill, and the allocation of federal CARES Act funding for local units of government.
I am most disappointed that we were unable to reach agreement on CARES Act funding as last weekend, the House, Senate, and Governor had reached a bipartisan agreement to distribute $841 million in federal dollars; $467M would go to counties, $350M to cities, and $23M to towns.
Unfortunately, House DFLers and Governor Walz blew up the agreement by inserting language from Walz’s supplemental budget proposal into the bill.
By reneging on their agreement, House DFLers and the Governor are blocking significant federal dollars from being sent to local government to help pay for COVID-19 testing, COVID-19 response for hospitals, PPE for front-line workers, financial support to local businesses, and helping keep our local governments solvent as they deal with extra expenses as a result of the pandemic.
This is federal money that was approved by Congress in the early days of the pandemic and should have been released to local governments weeks ago. Governor Walz has the ability, using his emergency powers, to directly issue these funds. I would hope he would do so in conformity to the formula agreed upon by the legislature.
If not, this will be a priority again in a future special session.
We were also unable to reach compromise on commonsense police reform.
Unfortunately, instead of working to build consensus, Democrats in the House opted to load their police reform bill with several highly controversial provisions that made it nearly impossible to support.
As a member of the Public Safety Committee, I have looked at issues related to policing for some time. I believe there were certain things we all could have agreed on that would have helped improve safety in our communities. Sadly, when allowed to pass bipartisan bills, the House took an "all-or-nothing" approach and decided nothing was better than passing things both sides agreed on.
I urge local businesses to apply for a newly created Small Business Relief Grants program administered through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The program provides $10,000 grants to small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees are eligible. Half of the funding will go to businesses in Greater Minnesota and a half to businesses in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, as required by law.
The application period will begin on Tuesday, June 23, and close at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 2. To be eligible, businesses must have a permanent physical location in Minnesota and be majority-owned by a permanent resident of Minnesota. Businesses must be able to demonstrate hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Additional eligibility requirements and application information can be found online at DEED’s Small Business Relief Grants page.
Please continue to reach out to me to share your questions, thoughts, or concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4293 or via email at email@example.com.
Have a great week,