The (first) special legislative session of 2020 ended early Saturday morning. Governor Walz had called it eight days earlier in order to address a number of issues, including extension of the peacetime emergency for COVID-19, financial support for cities and counties reeling from both the pandemic and damage in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder, and police and criminal justice reforms to help prevent another such death. Unfortunately, the Senate chose to adjourn without progress in these last two areas, and we are now in limbo.
If the Governor decides to renew the peacetime emergency, we will return for another special session in mid-July. Either way, there is critical unfinished business that must be addressed - starting with reforms to make sure that everyone in our community, especially Minnesotans of color, can have safe interactions with law enforcement.
Senate District 64 Town Hall
On Tuesday, June 30, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm, please join Sen. Cohen, Rep. Her, and me for a town hall to discuss the special session and where things go from here. In order to participate, you must register in advance here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0kce2uqjgrHdXtTAER5jMxIihx2Xwe1pv6.
Reimagining Public Safety
My colleagues in the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus developed a set of proposals for police and criminal justice reform that became known as the Police Accountability Act. As a member of the House Public Safety & Criminal Justice Reform Committee, I was proud to stand with my POCI colleagues and help shepherd the proposals through the House during the special session. Our committee held more than 12 hours of hearings on the package over two days - video available here and here - and it then passed the House early Friday morning. A summary of the bill is available here, with the full text available here.
The decision by Republican Senate leaders to adjourn abruptly cut off any chance that the package could pass during special session, but my colleagues and I will continue to push. The time for action is now.
Other Critical Unfinished Business
The Senate's decision to adjourn left many other priorities still awaiting legislative action as well. These include the distribution of badly-needed federal aid to cities. It also includes support for St. Paul and Minneapolis to rebuild from damage after the death of George Floyd; the House passed a bill - the PROMISE Act - to do this (details here). Also still to pass is an infrastructure (bonding) bill. As I said in an earlier e-update, with both interest rates and economic activity low, infrastructure investments are important now more than ever.
Bright Spot: Early Childhood
One small bright spot in the special session was action for our state's youngest children. My bill passed to increase rates in the Child Care Assistance Program for low-income families, for the first time in many years - details here and here. As chair of the Early Childhood committee, I also negotiated limitations on the suspension of preschool children; tragically, the disparate school discipline imposed on kids of color starts this young. These and other early-learning provisions were contained in an education policy bill as described here. Finally, we also passed a series of child-care regulatory reforms, including new training requirements to help keep children safe.
Hope that you can join us on June 30. Take care and stay safe and healthy in the meantime. Thank you for the honor of serving our community.
State Representative, District 64B
439 State Office Building
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