A little over a week ago, Governor Walz called my colleagues and I back to the Capitol for a special session. Here’s a brief update on what we accomplished and remaining challenges:
Assistance for Small Businesses
When the House reconvened, our first order of business was approving $62.5 million in grants for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill 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. Under the bill, which Governor Walz signed into law on Tuesday, small businesses with 50 or fewer employees can receive grants up to $10,000. Priority will be given to Minnesota’s smallest businesses and those that were required to operate at 50 percent capacity or less.
Support for Local Governments
Local governments have prepared for and responded to COVID-19, keeping Minnesotans safe. Last week, we passed legislation to deliver $841 million in federal funding to Minnesota counties, cities, and towns. This funding would help ensure that our local governments can continue providing the services that Minnesotans expect and deserve. Under the legislation, Hennepin County would receive $220.8 million. The bill included $4 million for Minnetonka, $5.9 million for Plymouth, and $35,000 for Woodland as well. In addition to aiding local governments, the bill would temporarily increase wages for personal care assistants who take care of vulnerable Minnesotans, support our state’s child care providers, and help prevent veteran suicides and homelessness. While this legislation didn’t make it across the finish line, I’m committed to delivering these much-needed funds for our region.
Police Accountability and Criminal Justice Reform
The special session gave us the opportunity to pass racial justice and police accountability legislation. On Thursday, we approved the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020. This package of legislation, which was led by People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus legislators and community members, would help ensure that all Minnesotans can feel safe in their communities. The proposed solutions aim to increase police accountability, build trust between officers and the communities they serve, and reimagine public safety. These badly-needed reforms weren’t adopted, but I’ll continue advocating for them in future legislative sessions.
Jobs and Local Projects Bill
Passing a strong Jobs and Local Projects Plan, or bonding bill, was one of our priorities for the special session. Investing in public assets such as clean water infrastructure, roads and bridges, higher education institutions, and parks and trails would help communities across the state and create high-quality jobs for Minnesotans. While we put forth a robust bill that contained important priorities for Minnetonka, Plymouth, and Woodland, we couldn’t reach bipartisan consensus on this measure. I’ll continue working across the aisle to make these investments in our future.
Share Your Distance Learning Experience
The Minnesota Department of Education is inviting families to share their distance learning experience as they plan for the 2020-2021 school year. The input you provide will inform the agency’s decisions and the guidance they provide to schools this fall. You can take their Fall Planning Survey here.
It’s deeply disappointing that the special session ended before we could finish our work. However, I’ll continue working with Senate Republicans and Governor Walz to address COVID-19 and its economic impacts, enact police accountability and reform, pass a Jobs and Local Projects bill, and more.
Please continue sharing your questions, feedback, and suggestions. It’s an honor to serve you at the Capitol.