In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Minnesotans are demanding to transform public safety in our state. The Legislature recently met in special session to address police accountability, criminal justice reform, and other important issues, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In the House, we passed the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020, a strong package of legislation informed by the experience and expertise of my colleagues in the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus and Minnesotans who are too often left out of the conversation at the Capitol. This transformative legislation aims to:
- Reclaim community oversight by putting power in the hands of the people and neighborhoods that police officers are sworn to serve and protect
- Reform accountability by restoring confidence and trust in the systems that are meant to provide justice for all Minnesotans
- Reimagine public safety by ending the unacceptable culture that is responsible for the murder of George Floyd and far too many others who look like him
You can view a fact sheet with more details about the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020 here.
Senate Republicans set an arbitrary one-week deadline for the special session, then chose to go home without any attempt at real negotiation on police accountability. It was disappointing to see the special session end this way with the eyes of the world upon us. We cannot walk away from our communities and the families of victims of police violence. We will likely have another special session in the coming weeks, and I will do everything in my power to push for action.
Yesterday, the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee and the POCI Caucus held a public forum to discuss police accountability legislation with community members.
Rebuilding Our Communities
Significantly, the House also passed the Providing Resources, Opportunity, and Maximizing Investments in Striving Entrepreneurs (PROMISE) Act. This comprehensive plan invests in communities like South Minneapolis and helps businesses that were damaged recover. The goals of this legislation are to:
- Provide economic relief to impacted individuals, businesses, and organizations in an equitable way
- Preserve the unique character of commercial and cultural corridors
- Keep the community vision central to redevelopment efforts
A fact sheet with more information about the PROMISE Act is available here.
The PROMISE Act was inspired by the stories of Minnesotans who are dedicated to rebuilding our communities. On Monday, my colleagues and I held a public forum to share it with community members and hear their input. Senate Republicans decided not to consider the bill during the special session, but we will continue fighting to rebuild communities.
Assistance for Small Businesses
The first bill we passed during the special session, which Governor Walz has already signed into law, will assist small businesses impacted by COVID-19. It created a $62.5 million fund for small business grants of up to $10,000. With a focus on businesses with 50 or fewer employees, this legislation will help Minnesota businesses weather these difficult times. Applications are available until July 2, with the funding to be distributed by lottery. You can find more information about these small business grants here.
Holding Corporations Accountable for Defrauding Minnesotans
Last week, Attorney General Ellison announced that he is suing ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute for deceiving and defrauding Minnesotans about climate change. The Attorney General is seeking an injunction to bar these corporations from continuing to violate state laws, in addition to restitution for the harms Minnesotans have suffered and a requirement that the companies fund a public education campaign on climate change. This is exciting news for Minnesota! It’s time to hold corporations accountable for profiting at the expense of our heath, environment, and economy.
New Laws Take Effect
Several new laws took effect yesterday, included one I authored that invests $15 million in the Solar Rewards program. This will help Minnesotans install rooftop solar panels on their homes and businesses. The Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which provides emergency access to insulin and makes the lifesaving medication more affordable long-term, also went into effect. You can read more about the new laws here.
If you have any questions about our work at the Legislature or the resources available to our community, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-5375.