Last week, the Minnesota Legislature convened to tackle the issues that are at the front of Minnesotans’ minds right now. Progressives in the House got to work right away to provide COVID-19 relief, secure public works projects for our communities, and put Minnesota on the path toward racial justice with real, substantial criminal justice reform.
But when legislators adjourned on Friday, they had passed very few bills. So few that Governor Tim Walz called it “an embarrassment for Minnesota.”
How did that happen? Unfortunately, conservatives in the Senate were more concerned with pushing their own backwards agendas and providing lip service to the real issues.
Here’s how conservatives failed us this special Session:
Criminal Justice Reform
Since a Minneapolis police officer brutally murdered George Floyd, Minnesotans have been demanding real changes to address racism and police brutality. In the House, the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus proposed a whopping 21 measures that would have made important changes to our criminal justice system.
But in the Senate, conservatives countered with a “weak sauce” bill and refused to hear any criminal justice reform legislation co-authored by senators of color.
With an issue like this, where Black Minnesotans, Indigenous Minnesotans, and Minnesotans of color are disproportionately affected, conservatives went out of their way to silence diverse voices and maintain the status quo. That’s unacceptable, and we deserve better.
Whether or not we know someone who has gotten sick, we’re all affected by COVID-19. This pandemic has fundamentally shifted our way of life, and we need our leaders to step up to prepare our health care workers and support our communities. That’s what Governor Walz and progressive legislators have been trying to do since Minnesota’s first confirmed case.
But when the special Session began, conservatives wasted precious time by attacking Governor Walz and trying to strip his emergency powers instead of passing bills to address this crisis. In the end, that was all they had to show for their work.
We deserve better
This special Session might be over, but there’s still so much unresolved. That’s why we need to continue to demand a better Minnesota together. We need to keep fighting to hold conservatives accountable and let them know that we won’t accept inaction or watered-down reforms. For action alerts and updates about these issues and more, keep up with ABM on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.