Minnesota Report

Yesterday, Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) put forward his expectations for the Special Session tomorrow. He has extended the peacetime emergency, which fosters the need for a Special Session call, but also a number of issues remain unresolved with the 2020 regular session, significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

In his statement about the forthcoming session he acknowledges a need to respond to the aftermath of the protest and riots, which have shaken many communities to the core and the need to now, combat systemic racism, which is prevalent in many aspects of our society here in Minnesota. The disparities in Minneapolis, which is the most segregated city in America, are now staring us in the face, and failing to address them now will be done at our own peril.

His comments at his press conference and in his release said, “As Minnesota continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and grapple with needed police reform following George Floyd’s death, Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan today announced that they will convene a special legislative session beginning Friday, June 12. The Governor and Lt. Governor’s priorities for special session are clear: We will pass police reform and accountability and build a stronger, more equitable economy.

“Minnesota is at a turning point. This is our chance to take strong action to combat persistent structural inequities, pass substantive police reform, and build a stronger economy,” said Governor Walz. “I look forward to working with the legislature to seize this moment and build a brighter future for Minnesotans.”

Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan know that the best ideas come from community, and they are committed to working with the Legislature, the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus, and community leaders to take strong action to combat persistent structural inequities, pass substantive police reform, and build a stronger, more vibrant economy for all Minnesotans – especially for those whose economic well-being and businesses have been hit hardest.

“In this unprecedented moment, we must take unprecedented action on police accountability, equity, and economic recovery,” said Lt. Governor Flanagan. “This is not business as usual. We have an extraordinary opportunity to create meaningful, lasting change. We cannot waste this moment with hesitation.”

The Governor supports the recommendations on police reform and accountability that will be introduced by the Minnesota People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus and the Attorney General’s Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters Working Group. The proposals support use of force reform; funding for alternatives to policing; greater police oversight; voting restoration; community healing; and prosecutorial, investigatory, and training reform.

The Governor’s plan to build a strong and equitable economy will include his bonding proposal, the Local Jobs and Projects Plan, in addition to economic assistance for businesses impacted by COVID-19. The Governor will also work with partners at the community, local, state, and federal level to provide assistance for businesses impacted by the events in Minneapolis and St. Paul and plan for the future of these areas.”

In turn, House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-36B, Brooklyn Park) and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-46A, Golden Valley) put out a release stating,

“The legislature has four important areas to address in this special session: getting financial assistance to local governments and small businesses to deal with the impact of COVID-19, completing unfinished business from the regular session, including passing a bonding bill; enacting legislation on police accountability and criminal justice reform, and rebuilding communities that have suffered property damage,” said Speaker Hortman. “Minnesotans have gathered and raised their voices in support of justice for George Floyd, and for Philando Castile, and many others — we must work together to change our laws so that our communities are safe for all of us.”

“Minnesotans expect and deserve action on police accountability, racial justice, economic support, and COVID-19 legislation,” said Majority Leader Winkler. “Republican attempts to divide Minnesotans and blame others is reckless in the most demanding time Minnesota has faced in its history.”

Here is what Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) has said in response,“Yesterday, the Governor failed the state of Minnesota, again. They knew there was a threat to the Christopher Columbus statue, and he failed to adequately protect it. The mob mentality to do whatever people want without repercussion has got to stop. The Governor didn’t protect the Third Precinct, he didn’t protect businesses on Lake Street, and the Lieutenant Governor condoned the destruction on public property.

We expect there will be mounting protests at the State Capitol to pressure the legislature to enact legislation to address the inequities.