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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michelle (Shelly) Christensen (DFL)

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Special Session

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Rep. Christensen

Dear Neighbors, 

This last week we’ve seen many of our local businesses open for the first time in months. The safe reopening of our economy in “Phase III” is Minnesota’s next step in responding to the COVID-19 global pandemic. It may feel small, but the steps we’ve taken so far have saved lives, and as we continue to keep ourselves and our communities safe, we are adjusting how we live with this new normal.

Stay Safe MN 5 Safe Practices

What has changed?

  • Restaurants can begin offering indoor dining while maintaining social distancing, requiring reservations, and seating no more than 50 percent occupancy.
  • Indoor social gatherings can take place with 10 people or less; outdoor social gatherings can take place with 25 people or less.
  • Gyms, personal fitness and yoga studios, and martial arts may open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Indoor entertainment venues, such as theaters and concert halls, can open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Recreational indoor entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys, arcades, and museums, may open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Personal services, such as salons, tattoo parlors, and barbershops, may increase occupancy rates to 50 percent while requiring reservations.
  • Outdoor entertainment venues, such as sporting events, concerts, and theaters, may open at 25 percent capacity. 
  • Places of worship can increase occupancy rates to 50 percent.

Our district is home to incredible businesses, and I hope you all will join me in supporting the establishments that make our district (Stillwater, Lake Elmo, and Oakdale) a unique place to call home. While these measures are certainly welcome, we must recognize that a public health crisis is a process, and it’s only with continued public health guidelines that we can keep ourselves - and our neighbors - healthy and safe. You can watch Governor Walz’s announcement of these measures here


Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform

Our special legislative session started last Friday, and it’s a pivotal moment in our history. Not only are we working to address the public health crisis, but also the public safety issues facing many within our community. No matter what we look like or where we come from, we all want to know we will make it home to our families at the end of the day. 

The killing of George Floyd points to serious flaws in our public safety system. We have excellent and honorable members in our law enforcement community that I have been glad to know, and we can all agree there is a need to, once and for all, build a future where every member of our community knows the people sworn to protect and serve them honors that oath. 

My colleagues in the Minnesota Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus have created a list of proposals for public safety and criminal justice reform. These include measures to:

  • Reform the investigation and prosecution process of officer-involved deaths and wrongful actions
  • Increase police accountability and transparency
  • Raise standards of conduct and support officer excellence
  • Partner officers with the communities they serve
  • Repair and build community trust and create community-centered public safety

The special session will be continuing this week, and I want you to know that as your state representative I will work with my colleagues to build a future where whatever our race, background, or hometown, every member of our district can live in our community without fear of losing their life or loved ones.


Assistance for Small Business

A big win for Minnesota at the start of the special session was legislation delivering assistance to our state’s smallest businesses. This bill creates a $62.5 million fund for small business grants, with a focus on businesses with 50 or fewer employees. With grants of up to $10,000, this is a massively important bill that will provide our local businesses with the assistance they need to continue on during these difficult times.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. This bill has already been signed into law by Governor Walz, and coming information on how businesses can apply will be available here


Input on Distance Learning Experience Needed

The Minnesota Department of Education is starting to create a plan for what school could look like next fall and they are seeking input from parents and guardians. Please share your experience with MDE by taking this survey, which will remain open until June 30. 


Stay Connected

Minnesota’s COVID-19 Dashboard remains the best source for accurate, updated information, and the new Stay Safe webpage covers the resources available to the public as we work to reopen Minnesota safely.

Regardless of whether you can join us for a virtual conversation, please feel free to reach out. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact me at, or leave a voicemail at (651) 296-4244. I look forward to hearing from you!



Representative Shelly Christensen

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