Dear Iron Range Neighbors,
This past Monday, a new special session of the Legislature got underway. Minnesotans are counting on and expect us to work together to find a compromise on a number of critical issues affecting our health and economic wellbeing. If we all commit to putting people before politics, there’s no reason we can’t make bipartisan accomplishments that are important to all Minnesotans. Here’s an update from the State Capitol on the important work ahead of us.
Jobs, Local Projects, and Critical Economic Investments
My top priority this session is to enact a strong bonding bill, which will invest in critical public infrastructure and create construction jobs at a time when they are sorely needed. The bonding bill is critical to our region and it includes important projects like Eveleth public building renovations, Virginia’s regional public safety center, the East Mesabi Joint Water System, the Northeast Regional Corrections Center and more.
We’re also working on a package of targeted tax cuts for working families, farmers, and small businesses. This package includes my legislation to allow a mileage reimbursement subtraction for volunteer drivers. Now more than ever, volunteers are a critical component to the wellbeing of our community. I’m pleased we were able to do something to support those who give their time to others. The legislation would also approve Virginia’s local sales tax to help fund the new regional public safety center.
Criminal Justice Reform
Following George Floyd’s killing in May at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer we saw a civil unrest rip through cities leaving a wake of destruction never seen before in our state’s history. Make no mistake: what happened that day was inexcusable, and should have never been allowed to occur in our state. Following this tragedy, it’s our job to advance solutions which help ensure it never will again.
We must move forward on this issue thoughtfully though, and in a way that allows law enforcement to continue to carry out their critical public safety mission. Part of this involves bringing our police departments and sheriff’s offices to the table to get their input. Recently, I sat down with leaders of all five public safety agencies serving our district to gather their feedback about what we need to do. I learned that much of what’s been proposed – like changes to use of force policies and increased oversight – law enforcement is already on board with. Every single person deserves to live with dignity and respect, and we also need to ensure police officers can effectively do their jobs to keep everyone safe. One size doesn’t fit all, and we need to be sure that the reforms we enact will serve everybody across the state.
COVID-19 continues to be unpredictable, presenting public health and economic difficulties alike. While funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has allowed us to support local governments, housing and food security, and child care providers, we need to step up to do more. One example is support for disability service providers – which provide vital services to people with developmental disabilities that allow them to live with dignity. Without our help, many day service centers will be on the verge of closing their doors.
Governor Walz is expected to make an announcement soon about school this fall. Clearly, distance learning posed headaches for students, parents, and teachers alike. All students in Minnesota deserve an excellent public education, I call on the governor to take a regional approach allowing districts to determine what works best for their families, teachers and staff, while allowing them the flexibility to keep everyone safe.
This will be my final email update until after November’s election. Whether running or not, legislators cannot use state resources to send communications like these during an election period. While I won’t be sending these out for a while, I encourage you to keep in touch with me to share your feedback or if I can ever be of assistance. Feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call me (651-296-0170) any time. I also invite you to “like” or “follow” my Facebook page here.
It’s an honor to serve as your state representative. Have a great summer.