The first special session of 2020 adjourned last weekend. I’m disappointed that Senate Republicans didn’t answer the call to transform the system that killed George Floyd and continues to profile Black, Brown, Indigenous, and people of color every day. They chose to walk away from negotiations and adjourn, effectively halting our work in the House as well.
I’m frustrated that the special session ended without meaningful change, but I will continue fighting for racial justice. Should Governor Walz decide to call the Legislature back for another special session, my colleagues and I will be prepared to seize the opportunity.
Rep. Dave Pinto, Sen. Dick Cohen, and I are holding a virtual town hall on Tuesday, June 30 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Please join us to discuss the results of the special session and where we go from here. We’ll meet via Zoom, a free video conferencing platform which you can join here. If you’d like to participate, you’ll need to register in advance here.
The People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus, our colleagues in the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee, and our fierce leadership team worked tirelessly to get the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020 across the finish line. Our police reform bill would put power into the hands of the people and neighborhoods that police officers are sworn to serve and protect, restore confidence and trust in the systems that are meant to provide justice for all Minnesotans, and end the unacceptable culture that is responsible for the murder of George Floyd and far too many others who look like him. As I said in a speech last Thursday, which you can view here, I could not have been prouder to vote in support of this legislation.
On Friday, the House passed the Providing Resources, Opportunity, and Maximizing Investments in Striving Entrepreneurs (PROMISE) Act. This legislation is a comprehensive plan to help businesses that were damaged during recent unrest – many of which are owned by Black Minnesotans, immigrants, and people of color – rebuild and recover. The goal is to preserve the unique character of the impacted commercial and cultural corridors, continue their position as a place for small businesses to emerge and develop, and to keep the community vision central to redevelopment. It was our hope that the House and Senate could work together to pass a strong bill to help rebuild our communities, but the Senate decided not to consider this legislation. I hope they will reconsider in future legislative sessions.
Yesterday, I got the chance to sit down and listen to the African American immigrant community on how the civil unrest has impacted their businesses. Business owners ranged from furniture and retail to daycare and job service. 20 years ago, Lake Street was not thriving with commerce like it is today. Immigrants built this neighborhood with nothing but their hopes and dreams. They need our help, and we must do everything we can to invest in the reimagining and rebuilding of the impacted areas.
At the beginning of the special session, I supported legislation to assist small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bill, which Governor Walz recently signed into law, created a $62.5 million fund that will provide grants of up to $10,000 to Minnesota businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The grants will be awarded by lottery. Applications are available now through Thursday, July 2. You can find more information and apply here.
With my support, the House passed legislation that would’ve delivered $841 million in federal funding to cities, counties, and towns and made new investments in the people of Minnesota. Our bill didn’t pass in the Senate, but Governor Walz unveiled a plan to distribute the $841 million yesterday. Funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will be allocated based on the formula that we developed during the special session. That means St. Paul will receive $23.5 million. This funding will help local governments across the state respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, support small businesses, and continue providing critical services that Minnesotans count on. Governor Walz’s plan also includes $12 million in emergency support for food shelves and food banks.
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is working on a plan for the 2020-2021 school year and seeking input from parents and guardians. You can share your distance learning experience by taking their Fall Planning Survey here. The feedback you provide will inform MDE’s decisions and the guidance they provide to schools this fall.
The new Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program helps families with children who receive free or reduced-price school meals buy food while schools are closed. If your child received these meals last year, you may be eligible to receive up to $325 per child to spend on groceries. You can learn more about P-EBT and apply here. Applications are due by Tuesday, June 30.
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 email@example.com or 651-296-8799. I appreciate hearing your thoughts.