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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

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Legislative Update - June 23, 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Rep. Howard

Dear Neighbors, 

Last week the legislature met in special session. In the House we worked quickly to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as policing accountability reform in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. 

The House passed the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020, informed by the shared experiences and expertise of groups that are too often left out of the conversation here at the State Capitol. With the spotlight on Minnesota, these were measures that would have made our state a leader in true, equitable justice. The main components were:

  • Reclaiming Community Oversight
    • Putting power into the hands of the people and neighborhoods that police officers are sworn to serve and protect.
  • Reforming Accountability
    • Restoring confidence and trust in the systems that are meant to provide justice for all Minnesotans.
  • Re-Imagining Public Safety
    • Ending the unacceptable culture that is responsible for the murder of George Floyd and far too many others who look like him.

It was our hope that the House and Senate could work together to pass a strong bill that met this moment for criminal justice reform. Unfortunately, the Republican-led Senate did not answer this call. They walked away from negotiations with the House and chose to adjourn the special session, effectively ending our chance for any new laws during that session. 

I share your frustrations that the special session ended without significant change, but know that this is not the end of the fight. We are continuing to push for solutions and it is my hope that Governor Walz will call another special session soon so that we can resume the work that Minnesotans expect of us. 


Assistance for Small Businesses

There were some notable successes from last week’s special session. The first bill we passed was legislation delivering assistance to our state’s smallest businesses. The bill created a $62.5 million fund for small business grants, with a focus on businesses with 50 or fewer employees. With grants of up to $10,000, this is an incredibly important bill that will provide our local businesses with the assistance they need to weather these difficult times. To be eligible, the business must meet the following requirements:

  1. Have a permanent physical location in Minnesota, 
  2. Be owned by a permanent resident of Minnesota, 
  3. Be in good standing with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office and the Dept. of Revenue as of March 1, 2020, and 
  4. Demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike previous funds, these grants will be awarded by lottery. This bill has already been signed into law by Governor Walz, and applications are now being accepted through Thursday, July 2. You can find more information and apply on the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development's webpage


Input on Distance Learning Experience Needed

The Minnesota Department of Education is continuing to create a plan for what school could look like next fall, and they are seeking input from parents and guardians. Please share your experiences with MDE by taking this survey, which will remain open until June 30.

Additionally, the House Education Finance and Policy Committees will hold two joint remote public hearings to hear from teachers, parents, counselors, social workers, school nurses, transportation operators, and early education teachers’ experiences with distance learning. These will take place Wednesday and Thursday morning this week, and you can find more information here


Stay Connected

Minnesota’s COVID-19 Dashboard remains a great source for accurate, updated information, and the new Stay Safe webpage covers the resources available to the public as we work to reopen Minnesota safely.

Our work in the Minnesota Legislature continues, even if the path forward isn’t exactly clear. As things continue to update, my Facebook page remains a great source for the latest info. If you have any questions about our work in the Minnesota House, or the resources available to our community, feel free to reach out at or (651) 296-7158. We’re going to get through this together, and your input is greatly appreciated. 

In partnership,


Michael Howard