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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sondra Erickson (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Monday, June 22, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Despite optimism late Friday evening that deals could be reached on a variety of items, the House and Senate both adjourned 6:00 AM Saturday morning—ending a week long special session with several issues unresolved. Items that legislators hoped to find agreement on included police reform, bonding, and the allocation of federal CARES Act dollars to local units of government.

Of the issues that went unresolved, I am most disappointed about the failure to allocate federal CARES Act funding. This simple “pass through” funding bill ultimately fell apart because Governor Walz forced House Democrats to add unrelated provisions from his supplemental budget request to what had originally been a clean spending bill.

These federal dollars would have gone directly to local communities and counties in our area to be used to pay for COVID-19 testing, COVID-19 response for hospitals, PPE for front-line workers, financial support to local businesses, and to help keep our local governments solvent as they deal with extra expenses as a result of the pandemic.

It is completely unacceptable that despite the good bipartisan work done by the House and Senate, House DFLers and Governor Walz decided to attach unrelated demands to the bill in violation of the bipartisan agreement struck by all four caucuses.

By personally intervening, Governor Walz effectively blocked a deal that was coming together at the 11th hour overnight on Friday night/early Saturday morning. As a result, the bill was left unfinished when the legislature adjourned early Saturday morning. The House GOP pushed to suspend the rules late last week to take up the agreed-upon bill without other items attached, but that was voted down by the DFL.

If Governor Walz calls the legislature back for another special session in the coming days, weeks, or months, I expect this bill to be revisited.

Police Reform

The House, Senate, and Governor were unable to come to a compromise agreement on police reform legislation in the aftermath of the George Floyd tragedy due in large part to Democrat overreach.

Instead of working to build consensus, Democrats opted to push partisan bills and rejected good faith offers that included bills they had personally written. It's disappointing that when they were given the opportunity to pass bipartisan bills, Democrats took an "all-or-nothing" approach, and decided nothing was better than passing things both sides agreed on. 

Bonding

There continues to be no agreement on a bonding bill between the House, Senate, and Governor.

Bonding bills require 3/5s support in the House for passage and House Republicans, led by Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, have made clear that Governor Walz needs to begin working with the legislature on a transition plan away from his unilateral emergency powers and towards a return to regular, legislative order before the House will pass a bonding bill.

Until that happens, our caucus remains steadfast in our opposition to a bonding bill.

Small Business Relief

Finally, I urge local businesses to apply for a newly created Small Business Relief Grants program administered through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The program provides $10,000 grants to small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees are eligible. Half of the funding will go to businesses in Greater Minnesota and a half to businesses in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, as required by law.

The application period will begin on Tuesday, June 23, and close at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 2. To be eligible, businesses must have a permanent physical location in Minnesota and be majority-owned by a permanent resident of Minnesota. Businesses must be able to demonstrate hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Additional eligibility requirements and application information can be found online at DEED’s Small Business Relief Grants page.

Staying in Touch

Please continue to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Have a good week,

Sondra

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