Last Friday, the House and Senate convened for a special session. We’re working hard to deliver economic relief for small businesses and local governments, complete unfinished business from the regular session, and reform our criminal justice system.
Assistance for Small Businesses and Local Governments
When the Legislature reconvened, our first order of business was approving $62.5 million in grants for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – with $60 million coming from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Under the bill, 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.
Local governments have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as well. The CARES Act contained funding for townships, cities, and counties, and we are committed to delivering these funds so Minnesotans can continue receiving the essential public services they count on.
Jobs and Local Projects Bill
My colleagues and I are working to reach bipartisan agreement on unfinished business from the regular session, including a Jobs and Local Projects Bill. We put together a strong package of public infrastructure investments that contained important projects such as a new filtration system for Bemidji’s water treatment plant, sewer and water system improvements for Deer River, funding to help the Northwest Indian Community Development Center purchase the Bemidji building they currently operate in, and more. We have the capacity to make these investments, and they would create sorely needed jobs in our area and across the state.
Police Accountability and Criminal Justice Reform
George Floyd should still be with us. My heart goes out to his loved ones and his entire community. It’s heartening to see Minnesotans coming together to rebuild and gather food and supplies.
We need the services of law enforcement, and I’m grateful that many Minnesotans have positive relationships with our police and sheriff’s departments. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for every community. George Floyd’s killing proved that changes need to be made to ensure all Minnesotans can feel safe in their communities and in interactions with law enforcement. In response, the Minnesota DFL Caucus introduced the Minnesota Police Accountability Act – a series of reforms to improve accountability, reclaim community oversight, and reimagine public safety. To be clear, this doesn’t mean defunding law enforcement agencies.
Police accountability and criminal justice reform are the first steps towards righting the wrongs that people of color and Indigenous people have faced for far too long. I’m committed to building a state where all Minnesotans can thrive – no matter where they live or what they look like.
The Minnesota Department of Health is advising everyone who has recently attended a community event or large gathering to get tested for COVID-19. People who feel sick should get tested right away, but you should get tested even if you don’t have any symptoms. If you’d like to get tested, you can find more information and nearby testing locations here.
Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on these issues and others that are important to you. It’s an honor to represent our community in St. Paul.