I hope this email finds you well on this snowy February Friday. Week two of the 2022 legislative session is nearly in the books. Here’s an update from the Capitol.
Relief for Frontline Workers & Small Businesses
This week, the House Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee heard testimony on two key pieces of legislation that make up part of the House DFL’s overall proposal on Economic Security. HF 2900, which appropriates $1 billion for bonus payments to thousands of frontline workers, advanced through committee. HF 1035, which would appropriate $1.2 billion to settle the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund debt, also passed.
The frontline worker bonus pay legislation builds upon the efforts of last year’s working group on this issue and expands the invested amount from $250 million to $1 billion in order to meaningfully recognize the Minnesotans who have worked on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic; our first responders, healthcare and childcare workers, grocery store employees, and more. Depending on the number of accepted applications, eligible workers would receive payments of up to $1,500.
We were all heartbroken last week following the tragic killing of Amir Locke at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department following the use of a no-knock warrant. At only 22 years old, Mr. Locke had his whole life ahead of him; he should still be alive today.
Prior to Mr. Locke’s death, my colleague Rep. Athena Hollins, one of the co-chairs of the DFL People of Color and Indigenous Caucus (POCI), chief authored successful legislation, of which I was also an author, that was included in the final public safety budget bill last year to regulate no-knock warrants. It provides a process to be followed regarding the issuance of no-knock warrants, requires a chief law enforcement officer and another superior officer to review and approve warrant applications, and generally prohibits the issuance of these warrants in drug possession cases.
This week, Black legislators, supported by House DFL Leadership, stood together to announce new legislation establishing tougher restrictions on no-knock warrants statewide, which builds on the law we passed last year. The new legislation includes a high bar for exceptions, only allowing no-knock warrants to be used in extreme circumstances where there is evidence that a civilian’s life would otherwise be put in danger. Bill language is being finalized with the goal of a public hearing next week. You can watch the press conference here.
Public Safety in Transportation
The House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee held two informational hearings to learn more about and how to address the growing problems associated with traffic and pedestrian safety. We received expert testimony from the State Patrol, the Minnesota Department of Traffic Safety. The information they shared with us is very concerning. Despite fewer cars being on the road last year, Minnesota still saw 498 deaths in traffic-related crashes; 58 of those were pedestrian-related fatalities. Speed was cited as a key contributor, but also, the lack of access to strong and safe pedestrian infrastructure. You can watch a recap of our hearing here. All Minnesotans deserve equitable access to transportation, no matter how they travel. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to ensure we have a comprehensive and safe transportation system for everyone.
Keep in Touch
Please continue to reach out anytime with questions or input at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-5510. I appreciate hearing from you! It is an honor to represent our Fridley, New Brighton, and Spring Lake Park residents and families in the Minnesota House of Representatives.