Speaking with Representative Rena Moran Chair of the Health and Human Services Policy Committee.
C&B: Madam Chair. Can you discuss the murder of George Floyd and the effect of his death and that of Philando Castile and others have had on you, and the issues you feel are paramount for our state to address?
RM: Well good morning, I would like to discuss that. Let me just start with Philando Castile, which was a young man that we heard had stated to the officer that he had a license to carry and that he had a gun in his vehicle. And we kind of like also watched him die in front of us, taking his last breath and in seeing that visual, but also hearing that Philando has said to the officer. I have a gun in my vehicle only took me and probably so many Americans, or individuals who saw that, who saw that night. They can wonder, why didn’t the officer do so many other things why did he not get back in the car. Why did he not say, you know, I mean, there’s so many days that I believe that officer did not do that he should have done that would have protected him, Philando would still been around and Diamond and her young daughter wouldn’t call would not be traumatized for the rest of their lives.
And then here we are with George Floyd. In the visual where we saw, George lying on the ground with the officer’s knee on his neck. We heard him state, over and over again but he could not breathe, and say I don’t want to die. We watched him as he called out for his mother.
And most importantly, we saw there, and we witnessed him pee on himself. Which is all about was all about coming to his end life.
And when he took his last breaths and we continue to see that officer’s knee or his neck, even after he was unconscious is something that will forever be etched in my mind, in my brain. And I’m sure also an individual around the state of Minnesota, within our nation and around my country is a visual that we would never ever forget, and more importantly for me as an African American woman who knows that there are so many George Floyd, who have been murdered at the hands of police officers is that it gave the white population an opportunity to see it too. Without them making judgment, or thinking in their minds that, that black man must have done something wrong. That is why he is dead right now.
We all watched him beg for his life. And so, that wrongness, that visibility, that the pain that I see not only that I witnessed, but so many people around the country, witnessed a murder by police officer in front of our eyes. If ever gets in, you know, in the history of the book, and not just American history, and so it was just very clear and very clear to me, it’s very clear for folks around the country who have decided to stand up, protest show their decision displeasure, show that the outrage show that uncomfortability, show their trauma, by protesting, by marching out in the streets and say, police have to be held accountable for the actions. There needs to be policies on the books, that says clearly to police officers, you too are not above the law. And there are consequences for your actions, because you’ve been given the inherent, the inherent right privilege and power to serve and protect.
And when you go beyond that, and use deadly force unnecessarily, then there are consequences to that. And that is what I believe that the meaningful visions within the Minnesota Police Accountability Act does.
C&B: Can you provide insight and a firsthand account to the conversations and negotiations you have had with the Republican controlled Senate?
RM: Yeah, well, you know, this goes back to June 19th, and really, the weakness for that. As we watched George Floyd murdered on TV that we as a DFL controlled House, decided that we had to respond. We had to respond to the cries that had been played out on the streets.
And do some police reform. And so, we as Democrats, led by our People of Color and Indigenous Caucus which we call our POCI Caucus, we certainly took the lead in crafting legislation.
We took the time to share information with, you know, members of our state, we held hearings. We took a Saturday morning to information hearing and that lasted about seven hours or more. We took the rest of the week to have hearings through our respective committees in the body.
We had a deal off the House floor, and we sent it over to the Senate.
Then on June, the 19th, we waited for a response from Republicans of the bill that we sent over to them. Because as you know, bills have to move through both bodies, for it to pass and become law. That is the traditional path.
And so then the 19th I contacted my CLA, my Committee Legislative Assistant, and asked her just to, to be sure that bill had been over to the Senate. She stated in had, and I shared with her, to share with them that at any point that we, I am available to begin to, to have a conversation with them in terms any questions they may have that myself and Chair Mariani, who’s the chair of the Public Safety Committee that we were ready, prepared and available to begin any type of conversation or negotiation if need be.
So, I heard back from my LA that they just received the bill and were going to take some time to read it. But about 3:30 on June, the 19th I got a message from the Senate, that, that we are ready to meet. And so, you know, in our excitement, we were like, its good they have responded. Chair Mariani and myself, headed over to then. Chair Mariani, who was the chair of the bill, who’s also the chair of Public Safety. I am the chair of our People of Color Indigenous Caucus, who was working in partnership with public safety to move the bills to the body to do the work to try to pass the legislation. So, as a chair of the POCI Caucus, I was designated to be the one to go in negotiations. With me, along with ChaIr Mariani with the Senate. And so, at 330 around 330 or so we showed up in a Capitol in a room in the Capitol to begin to have conversations around the bill that passed off of the House floor.
And I remember so clearly walking into the room. And when I walked into the room. There was, let me get this straight. Senator Limmer. I believe that first meeting it was Senator Limmer maybe it was Senator Ingebrigtsen, Senator Gazelka along with Representative Johnson and O’Neill, and then it was myself and Carlos, and they were already seated in the room when we came in.
And, as we walked into the room and sat down. I don’t know if you’ve ever been into a space where you can walk into it, and you can feel like maybe all the eyes are on you, or you feel an uncomfortability, or you can you just have certain things that you can feel in the space.
And, as I sat down, I got that you know that sense of, for me, it was just a very strong sense of arrogance, I felt in that room. Even before any words were spoken. I felt the heaviness of that arrogance.
You know, I’m calling it arrogance some people would call it maybe by other things, you know, whether that may be a sense of as a shadow, as of, I have the power, you know, like the inequity that you may feel when you encounter a police officer and they have all of the power and you’re feeling helpless. You know, some may call it the privilege that they brought into that room with them, or that the perceived power that they brought in there with them, but the character of that arrogance was there, on the other side of the table, opposite them. And there was a moment of silence and, you know, as we waited for in my mind, waited for them to, like, give a counter offer or state whether or not they liked the deal or, you know, they state some changes or have questions about the bill.
And finally, you know, they say to us. Well, we haven’t read your bill. We didn’t read the bill. And I was like wow, if you haven’t read the bill then why are we here. If you had not taken the time to read the bill.
And so, for us, you know, for me, it was like, look, you know, that arrogance that I was feeling was now showing up. They really discounted the bill and haven’t been taken the time to read it, now we’re sitting in front of you. And there’s really nowhere to go from that.
But what we did, Chair Mariani made it clear, in the statement that, okay well, you know I think I or Chair Mariani said, you know, we really should go back and read it because it was important that you read the bill and know the language in the bill. But, and Chair Mariani made it really, really clear, that in order for us to go anywhere with what needs to happen, along police accountability, with abuse happening like we did with George Floyd, that they would absolutely have to be some institutional change or some systemic change and they looked at us like. What are you talking about, they didn’t quite understand what this institutional change was or systemic change was.
And so, Chair Mariani went on to explain it. And explain it and like four different ways four different times. What he meant by that. So we ended there, we ended up there, to go back and read it and get in contact us when you have read it.
And they did they came back several hours later, with a document in their hand. And I believe that meeting. It was Sen Limmer and Sen Gazelka at that meeting and they came in and we were there and they sat down they handed us a sheet of paper, and they said to us. This is our final, this is what the senate can do. And this is our final offer to you.
It was like five four provisions, on a piece of paper. No, no, maybe a little bit more, maybe they were up up to maybe 10 or 11 provisions where they had taken their original five offers, five bill offers and then like cutting them up they cut them up into little pieces, to make them, to expand them, and then it was more.
My thought was, wow, okay, they’re saying, this is what we can support. This is our final offer. And I believe I said, “So are you saying to us that you did not like any of the language, changed,” and they said “No, this is the offer.”
And so Chair Mariani I believe reiterated again that you know this this work is going to take some institutional changes. It’s a systemic changes that have to happen.
We said to them, we would look it over and we will get back to you on this, and then they asked us what time I think it was like 7;30 or 8 o’clock in the evening. And we said, well give us about, you know we need a couple hours to look it over and go through it. And we did that, we took their language, we took it back. We found definitely we found some agreement. Some alignment with some of what they clicked on that one pager And, they also included some language around, they will not do anything that defunds police officers. And in that meeting we made it clear, that we were not there was nothing in our language in our proposal that defunded the police, nothing at all.
And so, we responded with like 11 o’clock that evening with a counter offer. There was definitely some agreement with alignment with what they had on a sheet of paper, a lot of alignment in our counter offer to them. We also added some additional provisions that came from ideals that we also wanted to have a conversation around that we just believed needed to be address. That can’t be addressed. If we were going to go move any further around police accountability.
And so, about 11 o’clock that evening we came back and gave them our counter offer. They didn’t say much, to the counter offer that we gave them. And they said, well, we need to look at, you know, I asked them, do you know how long you it would be before we can get a response back. And they didn’t know. I shared with them that warrior training, although was not on this list for retraining you really need to consider it to consider prohibiting that training is really looking at officers in training to see an individual that they encounter as the enemy. They’re also trained to look at that person who may want to kill them. And so, their viewpoint is to kill before being killed. And I think that is so unAmerican is just so unAmerican. And, and so it was, you know, I mentioned that. And they said okay, and he left the room.
That’s about 1130 or so. And so, we waited around. We waited. We waited to hear back. It was three o’clock in the morning. We’re at the Capitol. We’re waiting to hear back. In the meantime, they held a press conference as to our counter offer, you know, the media was there we spoke to them to the media about our counter offers.
And we went in and about five o’clock that morning, we get a message that the Senate is prepared to adjourn. And I just thought in my mind, it maybe because, you know, I just believe in some type of protocol that they would at the minimum say to us. We can’t make a decision right now. We don’t like it. It’s too late. There would have been some type of feedback or respond to us, but we’ve never, ever heard back from Senator Gazelka or Senator Limmer and they adjourned and they went home. And that’s how the first session, that’s how the first negotiation went. With them on June the 19th, they Sine Die, adjourned and they went home. And the only thing that we can do in the House is to follow and do the same thing.
C&B: Do you consider the House position on police accountability and use of force was reasonable?
RM: Absolutely reasonable. The counter offers pretty much the first counter offers what is the direct agreement, with a lot of the provisions that they have put down there. You’re looking at the statute of limitation police residency, warrior training. I mean, looking at the post board.
All of those things were quite reasonable, nothing extreme, in any way, just reasonable provisions that were put together. Absolutely.
C&B: What does the current bill look like in comparison to what your counteroffer was.
RM: So, we went through phrases, so phases. There was several counter offers when we reconvened for the second special session, where we started from the point where we met. And then there was counter offers that you know a few more counter offers that went back and forth and back and forth.
But within those first strong places where we can find some agreement work around prohibiting the warrior training. And this happened because we have members who were carrying, individual members who were carrying like the warrior training. That was carried by Representative Richardson, I carried the choke hold bill and the use of force bill. Duty to intercede was carried by Becker-Finn. Police residency reform by Representative Hassan. Chair Mariani had the data collection and regulatory reform. We looked at arbitration by Representative Her. Law Enforcement Oversight Council Representative Gomez.
We have a prosecutorial reform bill by Represented Becker-Finn, and statutory by Chair Mariani and an attached bill by Representative Noor. Peer counseling Representatives Noor. Police officer critical incident review Representative Kunesh-Podein. A community led public safety initiative by Representative Gomez. And of course, you know, we looked at mental health training both by Representative Richardson and my restore the vote bill.
All of these are just pretty much common-sense reform bills. And so, as we get deep into negotiation during the second special session, each respective legislator began to do work to, with Republicans. Richardson worked, you know, I know, that she got some outreach from Senator Ingebrigtsen so they talked about the warrior training, that was part of some of the final negotiation. The choke hold bill that I was working on, I was working in partnership with the Minnesota Association of Police Chiefs, the Minnesota Association of Sheriffs and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association was important to me that I work specifically with them on the choke hold bill and the use of force bill. The duty to intercede was a part of the final reform.
The POST Board was really that transformational change that we was talking about the institutional change and the systemic change so much within the POST Board for who have this inherent power that has been given to them by the legislature, but they have never used it in a way to control and keep police officers accountable for bad behavior. And so, it was really crucial and critical for Chair Mariani and myself, that we strengthen the role of the POST Board, give them the tools and additional tools and resources that they need to do the work that not only keep police officers safe, but also keep the community members, safe going back home to their families.
And we also recognize that being a police officer can be a heavy job. And so, after a critical incident that there should be some peer counseling for a police officer. We recognize that we validated that the police officers need to be able to talk things through after a critical incident, and not being demonized on that, and not to be seen as weak because of that. We also know police officers are committing suicide, at really high numbers, because of the stress of the job. We want them to be taken care of. So, we land on that peer counseling piece. And we also land on a during the day, we believe that they need to be trained, so that they have training around mental health around autism was really, really important to us too. Because we know that 50% of the use of force that has happened between the encounter of a police officer, and an individual that individual was dealing with a mental crisis at that time.
And so, in autism training is another group, we heard from them. I was also a part of a deadly force encounter working group that Attorney General, the Attorney General, and the Commissioner of Public Safety, Ellison and Harrington. I was able to travel around the state listening, and learning and hearing from folks all across the state of Minnesota, that autism was a problem. That police officers needed more skills and training in that.
So, I mean, these were really common-sense, you know, bills. We broke the bills down into three types of subtitles, the first one was Reclaiming Community Oversight, which was really was about putting some power into the hands of the people and neighborhood that police officers are sworn to serve and protect. And that’s where you found the choke hold, duty to intercede, police residency, the warrior training, arbitration, reform and data collection and the law enforcement oversight provisions of the bill. under that Reclaiming Community Oversight. The we had the Reforming and Accountability pieces which is like restoring confidence and trust in the system that are meant to provide justice for all Minnesotans. Those were the use of force, the prosecutorial reform, investigatory reform and the past bill was all under that title. And then the last one, of the group was called Reimagining Public Safety.
And that was ending the unacceptable culture, that was responsible for the murder of George Floyd and far too many others that look like George Floyd and myself. And under those, under that title was the public safety, peer counseling. It was a police officer critical incident review. It was a community led public safety, and mental health training, autism training and restorative goals.
And so, those. That is where we were in those first counter offers going back and forth.
C&B: Do you believe the Republicans with whom you’ve been engaged share your sentiments on the importance of these issues.
So, the Republicans, I think, is that the Republicans have and had a hard time seeing, hearing and validating our concerns of excessive use of force, police brutality. They have a hard time being able to move away from a state, where they’re going, we like our police officers. We’re going to protect our police officers. This is all about police officers.
And I was saying that, Chair Mariani and myself believe the same thing with police officers to be safe. You know, but it’s not just about them because police officers are given the inherent right and privilege and power to serve and protect. And that is their role as police officers. They’re not in the military they’re not going over to foreign lands. They’re not go over to stop an enemy in a foreign land.
We are Americans. We are in the community that they are serving in, to serve and protect
For way too long, we have seen this narrative, where police officers, and they’re encountered especially in communities of color, specifically within the black community where they have over policed over ticketed, over criminalized, over lots of individuals, but also have over abused and used excessive force on men and women.
So yes, I was encountering my sense, Senator Limmer, Senate Gazelka. You know, this maternal place of wanting to protect the police officers. Limit their ability to recognize and validate that, you know, they also need to make sure that officers were not breaking the law. That officers were not using excessive force, when excessive force was not needed. That there had to be some accountability for police officers or on other side of that because I had found myself in these meeting with the police chief in the sheriff and the representative of the, police chief representatives from the sheriff and representatives from police and peace officers. It became important to me, one that I engage with law enforcement officers for doing this work, so they can also bring that insight, of what it is to be an officer. What it looks like, what their thinking process is. And maybe there is that uncomfortability about you know what we tried to do here, and how we can do it in a way that is helpful for law enforcement officers, was also helpful for community.
My use of force bill is a bill that came out of the deadly encounter that deadly force encounter work group. We’ve talked about the use of force through the lens of the sanctity of life. The sanctity of life looking at the totality of the circumstances, and moving away from of subjective language that was currently in law, that gives police officers to use force, because it appears to be, you know, a word in statute that apparent threat that read what we have been seeing over time and how it works out in the streets, in the public is that police officer are using phrases like what, I was scared or, I thought or I believed that was a gun, it was a phone. And, It was just so subjective. That it allowed police officers to use excessive force based on what they believe and what they thought or what was an apparent threat.
And it was really important to me as the chief author, they didn’t want to use the use of force bill the subjectivity of the word apparent, was not good enough. It was really causing or allowing officers, to use way too much excessive force. And so, we removed the word, apparent and reinserted the word imminent making it imminent threat is something that has been used around in other states. It’s been moving from that subjective language into a more objective language around the country. And, that was like for police officers, especially, that was really hard for them to be able to comprehend. And so, in the end, that, my use of force to bill with many of the other bills around warrior training had been accepted so called bill had been accepted. The duty to intercede had been accepted, we have even included the police residency bill was going back and forth about that, but we want to do the Senate wanted to do incentives. They don’t want to quite list it, but they wanted to do incentives. We had already had some regulatory reform in there, the arbitration language reform was in there, which was huge. We had the peer counseling that was happening confirmed, the mental health training, the autism training we all come to agreement around that and we’re still looking at some of the investigatory reforms that were needed, but they couldn’t quite get, they were not around removing the word apparent inserting the word imminent.
And so, the MPPOA got with us, and asked what does imminent mean? And so, we went back and forth, we; we meaning myself and some of my staff went into find out what was the new around the country. Imminent is used in statue in many different places here in the state of Minnesota, but there’s no definition of it. And so, we found the definition that was used by the FBI, the same language was also had been used by law enforcement in Chicago, and in Seattle. And so, we took the definition of three, three definitions that they used. And so, we took that we introduced that to MPPOA along with the sheriff and the police chief, and pretty much everyone could agree with the definition. But were so stuck on the word imminent, being in statute. And so, the day before we passed this bill got an agreement, the day before, there was a aha moment that took place in a meeting that I was holding with the sheriffs, the police chiefs and the police and police officer’s representatives.
We decided that we will remove the word one word, two words the words apparent, we would remove the word imminent, and we will focus on the definition that we can all agree with. And that is what it took.
But it took a lot of conversations of really engaged law enforcement. And what worked. And, we changed a little bit more language, that the MPPOA wanted, and we inserted that under the use of force. But it was really important to me. I think it’s really, really important to Chair Mariani and I talked caucus, and a community that was out there protesting. That we put in place that we begin to look at the use of force in use, only when it’s like really, absolutely necessary that you would not use a chock hold and block person’s airway as a routine practice. And, that we will look at use of force through the lens of the sanctity of life, not just what a police officer. We definitely want police officers at the end of their day to go home to their family. But whoever that police officer encounters that that individual will be given a ticket if need be, they will be handcuffed can be put in the squad car they will go to lock-up, but they also get to live another day and go home to their family too.
That was important, that was key. Not only for them, but it was important for me as one who was there to negotiate with them. That, that was a priority for me too, and for us as Democrats.
C&B: Many Republicans call themselves pro-life do you believe they have the same sanctity of life for all Minnesotans?
RM: Absolutely not. This is saying that they think but when it comes to really putting it into practice, they believe It’s okay for them to pick and choose what that looks like, which I find very, very difficult. If you believe in life, if you believe in the sanctity of life, that doesn’t mean it’s for some and for others especially for those who look like me, or, or who are indigenous, or who are people of color, it does not mean something different for them.
We are all part of, right, in my mind, we’re all part of the human race. And that sanctity of life for that encounter has to make a difference. And for those who are listening, and I want to be clear about what I’m saying that police officers are trained, and they can use different tactics that allow them to be safe, and allow them to not rush into an incident, and feel the need to use force as a sense of public safety. So, deescalation training, learning about that, learning how to do that, you know, doesn’t show weakness. It doesn’t, you know, it doesn’t show. you know, that you’re weakened when you respond.
But it does put a priority on life. And I think, you know, and I’ve tried many of the other states who have taken the leadership to utilize tactics that deescalate incidental encounters. You know, but then police officers to do what they are sworn to do in that is service protect, you know, get someone down because they get handcuffs on him, get him in the squad car and take them to lock up.
They do not, we wouldn’t, we do not want to see that excessive use of force and the model of how to engage with everyday ordinary individuals back out in our local town, in, in the city, in our communities. Cause if I did not share that the use of force from the research that we collected 60% I believe that 60% of the use of force that is used by law enforcement is used out in the rural community. This is not just a Minneapolis issue or Minneapolis, St. Paul or the city concern. 60% of the use of force is used rurally, and as a city legislator I am saying that is not okay. And so, I am glad that we were able to come to a compromise on removing the subjective language from the use of force. I think this makes it stronger. It removes the status quo, that the police officers have been working under. And sets a new direction for looking at policing in the 21st century.
C&B: We are also addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, in your role, what policy positions are you advancing to address this now and how will Minnesota be different in the future?
RM: COVID 19 is, it’s real. It impacts all people in some form, and not all the same way we aren’t clear about that. But it has, this COVID-19, has am inherent ability to allow me to carry it, if I have it, and pass it on to someone else and their body will break down, and they will die. And so, as the chair of the Health and Human Service Policy Committee, one of the first one the first things that I said to my committee members were that didn’t really relate to COVID-19 but it makes so much sense for COVID-19, is that health care, health coverage ability to make sure that we have processes in place, where you’re sick, you’re taken care of.
What we have to look at, what that looks like today, under the circumstances of where we are. And so, we have to, you know, just like with law enforcement, we have to reimagine what healthcare needs to look like in the 21st Century. We talked a lot about telehealth. We’ve now used network health with COVID-19. So, we have to reimagine, we have to reimagine the things that we’ve done, have always done in the way that we’ve always done it is not okay. And so, because COVID-19 came in and swooped up, and as a legislative body, if we had to make decisions about COVID-19 and it was sitting in the legislative stand in a Democratic House and Republican Senate. I am sorry, we will be a Florida or Arizona, or California or New York City, right now today with thousands and thousands of more deaths, and thousands and thousands more folks who have been COVID-19, because we have a legislative body that is divided are slow from the red tape and we cannot move or agree on anything. I am so thankful that the governor stepped in and the legislature gave the governor, the emergency powers that he has to make decisions, that was rapid.
We needed this. To make rapid changes that needed to be that needed to be made without going through a legislative process, which can be very long and very inundated with a lot of politics included in it. And it’s very unfortunate that when a mask has became political, it’s a safety mechanism. Just like it is when we all get in our cars, we put on our seatbelt. You don’t get to talk about your, your freedom, when you are imposing something on me. It is about safety, wear a mask, is the simple way of protecting others and yourself.
That’s all, to me is like it’s just so simple, but for some, we have to, you know, and so COVID-19 is real . I want to share with you that the beginning of 18 I was COVID-19, also. The fourth week of April, and so the pathways of COVID-19 you come encounter with someone, or maybe a carrier of COVID-19 maybe they knew, they probably didn’t know, because you know we knew back in March, before we closed down the Capitol. I knew I was having all types of days on the hill, that we had, you know, our Capitol was full of folks all the time, I was in all types of meetings and we was holding hearings. I don’t know where I got it from, but I am sure it was from someone that I encountered at the Capitol, and two weeks later, it showed up, with me. And that impacts, not only me, but it impacts my daughter. I spent a lot of time with, she has two, two little grandkids here, you know, that we all became, we all were impacted by that.
And so, health care, COVID-19, basically, the well-being, that moves beyond individualism, to more of an interconnectedness has to be at a priority of who and what we are as a state. If we ever want to get back to replace with normalcy and believe me I won’t normally see as much as anyone, anyone else. I want to get back I want to see business thriving. I want to, you know, I want to go to a park, I want to take my kids to a park, I want to take my grandkids, I want to let them play. I want all these things, hear from people, talking about. We have to do it in a safe way. We have to be concerned about the next person that we encountered not just our self, not to be selfish. Because this COVID-19 is no predictor, then, a selfish virus. It takes attacks us all.
C&B In the House, Minority Leader Kurt Daudt is seeking an end to the Executive Authority of Governor Walz before agreeing to a Bonding Bill, should these two issues be tied together?
RM: Absolutely not. That is so unfair, and is this is unfair to Minnesota across the state of Minnesota. We are in a crisis, when businesses are in a crisis, when businesses are shutting down, where folks are laying off or unemployed, whereas schools are closed. The bonding bill is a job provider, a job enhancer. It’s just what our economy needs, here in the state of Minnesota, and to tie the safety of Minnesotans to the bond bill, which is a job creator is absolutely wrong, Kurt Daudt in our House, Republicans are wrong here, they’re wrong. It is a wrong choice to give a governor, and they’re going to lose on this one, because the safety and the well-being of Minnesota is paramount for our governor, for citizens, for Democrats.
And it’s unfortunate that Kurt Daudt has this plan for playing politics with our lives. Our lives, our medical, our health and well-being, but also about moving our state forward and creating jobs across the state of Minnesota. In most of these jobs in the Bonding Bill it is so ready to help those rural communities that need the help that will come from these Bonding Bills to really maintain and find what is needed, to suffice out in those rural communities. So, it is very, very unfortunate that he has decided to kill bonding projects across the state of Minnesota, and tie it to the governor’s emergency powers, that’s not that’s not the right tool to be using at this moment.
C&B: Governor Walz will be announcing his decision on schools, what will the educational structure look like, and do you have any insight on what he will propose.
RM: Unfortunately, I have no insight, what the governor will be proposing. But I will share my, little two cents. And my little two cents is that children need to be in a learning environment, the stress of distance learning on parents, from. You know, not all parents are unemployed, some are working, you know and what do they find how do parents go to work. How do they you do distance learning, you know, if you have multiple kids in a household, though it only becomes, becomes harder to do, more stressful to do, sometimes impossible to do. We know that not all kids have access to internet, a computer that there are multiple kids in their homes. We also know that we have children who are on IEP, who are in English language learner who we’re not independent learners, that our health equity, our health, education, educational disparities are only going to grow more kids are gonna fall behind. I hear that I, are, are some of our young teenagers are stressed out. They are, you know, some we have the largest population but not the one the largest population of homeless youth where being a learning environment is one of the safest of environments that they can be in, to be in a place where they get that connection the relationship and the learning that happens in the classroom with teachers, and others is difficult. This is a difficult, difficult decision.
And so, my hope is that there’s not one model that says all, that, and this will be about local control and then local municipalities, decide how to best do it. You know, maybe we can do a few days in school learning some would be virtual learning at home but then the combination of that. Maybe they can maybe schools can decide how they are going to shift some days the kids are at home and some are at school. It’s gonna be difficult and we were talking about is in the midst of a COVID-19, right. And finding a way to do this safely, where choosing all wearing masks somewhere some of the social distancing is happening. It’s going to take all of that, but let me just say, you know, with COVID-19 and our children.
Some would say that the rate of infections, is smaller not that it is impossible. But we need, our hope that we’ll find a way to allow local municipalities to do this. Were going to have to find ways to invest, we’re going to have to reimagine education, I’m going to use that word again. We will have to reimagine what education looks like under COVID-19 in the 21st century. We might have to bring in some, some nonprofit organizations to help out, who have support peers who need the support that they need, otherwise they’re gonna fall further behind.
Some people think this is about graduation and prom. This is about the educational attainment of individual kids to be the best that they can be. Because we know how important education is. And so, we have to create opportunities we have to create possibilities. We cannot let us burden, be the burden of parents and families alone. It is hard work and more than ever we are learning how much we need to appreciate, teachers, and professionals in the building.
They wake up every day to support our children from pre-K to post-secondary education. We’re gonna have to reimagine what education looks like. Now, where we are, in time, but we have to do something, we have to create spaces what chance I’m getting an educational attainment. Not every child is a self-learner. Not every parent is equipped to be a teacher. Not every child is equipped to not be in relationship with the other kids. They’re going to have to find a way to make this work, in a moment, in the space and in the time that we’re in. And that’s called reimagining, we’re going to have to reimagine it and hopefully we’ll allow local municipalities to have some power over that decision-making process.
C&B: What are your expectations for the next legislative Special Session?
RM: So, Unfortunately, into the next legislative session in a deficit, all the data we’re collecting says that we are going to be in a huge deficit. So, what that means is, as we’re working through a COVID-19, as we’re talking about education, he’s talking about police safety, as we’re talking about health care, the environment. All the things that are so important to move us as a state and as a country, forward. Where as a state, is going to be on the chopping block. Because we have to come up with a balanced budget.
Our constitution dictates that to us, legislatively, we will have to balance a budget.
And the good news is that, well, it’s not good news now, as Minnesota, we have been investing. We have a surplus. We’ve been able to invest, we have been able to do a lot of good things, to move Minnesota forward. Health care has been one of the budgets in our state, other than education.
And so those investments that we have been able to put into the lives of Minnesotans and across the state of Minnesota, will be cut. And that’s always hard to do, it is often hurtful it moves us back and it’s gonna be hard. And so, it’s gonna be hard, it’s gonna be hard for the legislative bodies, it’s gonna be hard for the people of Minnesota as we make hard decisions around cutting budgets.
And so, I don’t look forward to it at all, because, you know, I believe in investing in people lives to get them to be the best that they can be. When I think government has a role to play. I think, I believe, government has a role to play in making people’s lives better.
And maybe, maybe, the probability, that’s happening is becoming difficult in 2021. In the era of cuts budget cuts.