First, I want to acknowledge that the past few weeks have been difficult for many Minnesotans. In addition to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and economic hardship, we are facing an urgent need to address racial inequality and reform our criminal justice system.
Last Friday, the Legislature convened for a special session. In the face of significant challenges, we are seizing this opportunity to build a state where everyone can thrive. Here’s a brief update on what we’ve accomplished so far:
Assistance for Small Businesses
When the House convened last week, our first order of business was approving $62.5 million in grants for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill includes $60 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and $2.5 million from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Emergency Loan Program. Under the bill, small businesses with 50 or fewer employees can receive grants up to $10,000. Priority will be given to Minnesota’s smallest businesses and those that were required to operate at 50 percent capacity or less.
Support for Minnesota Children and Families
The House also passed the Human Services Policy Bill, which will help Minnesotans navigate our human services systems. The bill makes a variety of changes related to early childhood programming, services for people with disabilities, child protection, and more. It includes provisions of mine that will help our state’s child care providers stay in business during and after the pandemic and ensure that our youngest Minnesotans receive high-quality child care. More information about this legislation can be found here.
Criminal Justice Reform
As I’ve mentioned in previous emails, the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus recently introduced legislation to help ensure that all Minnesotans can feel safe in their communities. The proposed solutions aim to increase police accountability, build trust between police officers and the communities they serve, and reimagine public safety. Many of the proposals have been discussed for several years. It’s time to enact these long overdue reforms.
On Saturday, the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee held a public hearing to review each of the bills in-depth. If you’d like to learn more about one or more of these measures, you can read an overview of the hearing here or watch it here.
While public safety and criminal justice reforms are a good first step, we’ve still got a lot of work to do to address persistent inequalities and the racism that exists in our own communities. For more information, read my latest “Legislator Lingo” column here.
Make Your Voice Heard
Share Your Distance Learning Experience
The Minnesota Department of Education is inviting families to share their distance learning experience as they plan for the 2020-2021 school year. The input you provide will inform the agency’s decisions and the guidance they provide to schools this fall. You can take their Fall Planning Survey here.
Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on COVID-19 assistance, early care and learning, police accountability, or other issues that are important to you. It’s an honor to represent our community.