I hope you and your family had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday.
The Legislature recently met in special session to wrap up unfinished business from the regular session, address ongoing challenges related to COVID-19, and put forth police accountability and criminal justice reform legislation. The first bill we passed delivered $62.5 million in funding for small business grants. The legislation 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. With a focus on businesses with 50 or fewer employees, it will help our local businesses weather these difficult times.
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, members of the Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus put forth legislation to help ensure all Minnesotans can feel safe in their communities. The proposed solutions aim to strengthen police accountability, build trust between police officers and the communities they serve, and reimagine public safety. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans chose to adjourn the special session without a compromise on this measure. A strong Jobs and Local Projects Bill, often called the bonding bill, also remains on the to-do list. Investments in public infrastructure, including many projects in Northern Minnesota, would create sorely needed jobs across the state. I am hopeful that we can reach agreement in these areas in a future legislative session, which could be held as soon as next week.
CARES Act Funding for Local Governments
Governor Walz recently unveiled a plan to distribute $841 million in federal CARES Act funding to Minnesota’s counties, cities, and towns. The governor’s plan utilizes the per-capita formula that legislators developed during the special session. Under this formula, counties will receive $121.28 per person. That means Beltrami County will receive $5.8 million, Cass County will receive $3.9 million, Hubbard County will receive $2.6 million, and Itasca County will receive $5.7 million. Cities with populations over 200 and townships with populations of 5,000 or more will receive $75.34 per person, and towns with 200 to 5,000 people will receive $25 per person. Bemidji will receive $1.1 million. These funds, which will be distributed on a rolling basis, will help our local governments continue providing the services Minnesotans count on.
New Laws Take Effect
Several laws took effect on July 1, including the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act. This legislation provides emergency access to insulin and makes the lifesaving medication more affordable long-term. The Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, which requires drug manufacturers to make their pricing information public, also took effect this month. Together, these new laws will help drive down the cost of insulin and other prescription drugs. You can find more information about laws that recently took effect here.
Building an Age Friendly Minnesota
AARP is seeking input on how our state can do a better job supporting Minnesotans as we age. They are inviting people who are 45 years old or older to complete a community survey here. The feedback they receive will inform the work of the Governor’s Council on an Age Friendly Minnesota, a group working to coordinate action across state agencies and make Minnesota a more livable state.
Please continue to contact me at email@example.com or 651-296-5516 if you’d like to share feedback or if I can be of assistance. It’s an honor to represent you.