Governor Walz called the Legislature into a special session last Friday. There are four major objectives we’re looking to tackle: getting financial assistance to local governments and small businesses to deal with the impact of COVID-19, completing unfinished business from the regular session — including passing a Jobs and Local Projects (bonding) bill — enacting legislation on police accountability and criminal justice reform, and rebuilding communities that have suffered property damage.
As a result of our work at the Capitol, we will likely be working on the House Floor tomorrow, therefore, our Virtual Town Hall Meeting previously scheduled for then has been postponed to Sunday, June 28. We look forward to connecting with you then.
This special session gives us the opportunity to address criminal justice reform and police accountability with the urgency it deserves. On Saturday, the Public Safety Committee, on which I serve, held a seven-hour hearing to take testimony on a number of measures aimed at reimagining and reforming public safety in the state. We had a five-hour hearing on Monday to discuss amendments and debate the bills. Both this committee and the Judiciary and Civil Law Committee, of which I am a member, voted to approve the proposals.
You can learn more about the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020 – developed by members of the Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus – from this research document here. While many of these proposals have been considered in past years, George Floyd’s death highlights that we must act now. Minnesotans – and people around the world – are counting on us to enact the meaningful changes necessary to ensure every single Minnesotan – without exception – can have safe interactions with law enforcement.
Many small businesses have expressed difficulty accessing COVID-19 resources from the federal government. The Minnesota House and Senate came together in a bipartisan manner to deliver financial aid to small businesses that need it the most. The legislation we approved 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. The focus of these funds will be on Minnesota’s smallest businesses, many of which are not as well-connected with private banks, that had to operate at 50 percent capacity or less.
On Friday the House approved the Human Services Policy Bill. While the legislation was largely technical in nature, it contained three important provisions I authored to strengthen our laws for people with disabilities. First, the bill makes several changes related to background checks for guardians and conservators aimed at reducing delays in getting guardians approved. It also adds criminal history information from other states from a national criminal history record check to information provided to the court.
Next, it included a provision I introduced to require sexual violence prevention training for direct support staff who provide licensed home and community-based services for people with disabilities.
Finally, the bill contains some technical changes to my legislation regarding Consumer-Directed Community Supports, which allows individuals to choose services that best fit their assessed needs, decide when they should receive services and supports, and hire the people they want to deliver services and supports.
One of the biggest challenges families faced during the COVID-19 pandemic was the sudden shift to a distance learning model. In rapid fashion, educators’ entire approach changed nearly overnight to help ensure Minnesota students can still receive the education they deserve. The Minnesota Department of Education wants to hear from parents about their distance learning experience as they plan for the 2020-21 school year. Take this survey to share your experience.
If I can be of any assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and phone number is 651-269-0141. I also invite you to like or follow me on Facebook. It’s an honor to represent you.