The special session of the legislature convened a week ago, focusing on unfinished business to deliver additional economic security to Minnesotans impacted by the pandemic. We approved HF 5, which includes $62.5 million in grants for small business impacted by COVID-19. Gov. Walz signed the bill into law.
The aid comes at an important time to help our businesses get back on their feet. The first $60 million in the bill comes from the federal CARES Act, and $2.5 million from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Emergency Loan Program.
Regrettably, the House, Senate and Governor did not reach agreement on other important measures and the legislature adjourned early this morning. One of the casualties of the session was a bill the House approved on Friday, sending additional CARES act funding to help communities throughout the state facing financial struggles due to the pandemic. The measure also included mortgage and rental assistance, expansion of broadband internet and a temporary pay raise for our personal care assistants.
I am optimistic the House, Senate and Governor will reach agreements on the outstanding bills and we will be back at the Capitol soon to usher them across the finish line.
Police Accountability Act approved by House
Early Friday morning The House passed the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020, a comprehensive package in response to the killing of George Floyd. This racial justice legislation was crafted by my colleagues in the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) caucus. The Senate passed a substantially weaker bill and ultimately there was not agreement. I look for progress on this bill as negotiations continue.
Virtual Town Hall
Much appreciation to everyone who took time out of your busy evening to attend our recent SD48 Virtual Town Hall. As usual, SD48 residents were engaged and asked excellent questions. Sen. Cwodzinski, Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn and I addressed a variety of questions, ranging from ways the state can assist those affected by COVID-19 to social justice and police reform. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and time with us.
Youth sports to resume
The Minnesota Department of Health announced new guidelines this week for resumption of youth sports. Outdoor sports can return this Wednesday and indoor games and scrimmages can resume on July 1. This is welcome news to many parents and student-athletes in our community.
Phase III Stay Safe Plan takes effect
The limited re-opening of dine-in restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues began recently. Occupancy rates will be limited based on risk, with an overall occupancy maximum of 250 people. You can learn more here about the Phase III Stay Safe MN plan.
Everyone can work to reduce the spread of COVID-19
- Wear masks when in public. 10-50% of virus carriers are asymptomatic. Wearing masks helps control the virus and has been shown to lower COVID-19 spread.
- Avoid enclosed spaces with groups of people, where the virus can linger in the air for long periods of time.
- Get tested if you have cold or flu-like symptoms - Find testing locations.
- Stay six feet away from others.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or sleeve, or a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands afterwards.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose and mouth – with unwashed hands.
- Up-to-date guidance is available from the Department of Health.
Please continue to reach out with any input, ideas, or feedback about the issues important to you. I value hearing from you, so please don’t hesitate to call or email me any time. You can also connect with me on Facebook here. It’s an honor to represent you at the State Capitol.