Dear Neighbors,

The Senate met on Monday, and the only official action in the agenda was a resolution that would have stripped Gov. Tim Walz of his emergency powers for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution passed the Senate, but it didn't make it in the House. 

We are dealing with unprecedented challenges and Senate Republicans continue to show no interest in reaching a deal. Many Minnesotans have been laid off, the unemployment rate remains more than double than what it was before the pandemic, Minnesotans are demanding criminal justice reform and police accountability, we need to pass a jobs & local projects bonding bill to create jobs, and we must support the rebuilding of our Twin Cities’ communities that suffered so much damage during civil unrest, but most of this work is not being done because we don't have the cooperation of the Senate majority.

The consequences of having a divided Legislature that is unwilling to work with the Governor to find solutions today, will be felt for years to come, and we need your voices to influence this process. Please do what you can to communicate with people you know in Republican districts to ask for action and accountability. Without the Senate, much of the policy passed by the House will not become law this year.

Thank you for your continued interest in the state legislature and our work serving Senate District 63. Please contact my office if you have any time-sensitive questions, comments, or concerns at 651-297-4274.




Bills Passed During the Second Session Special Session

S.F. 2: Appropriates $5M from the federal coronavirus relief fund for DHS to issue a one-time supplemental payment to dentists/dental clinics that serve MA patients and are enrolled as MA providers to assist with increased costs for PPE purchases.

S.F. 4: Allows driver’s license written knowledge tests to be administered online and allows driving schools access to the DVS online knowledge testing system to also administer these tests. This is a compromise to address the backlog of knowledge testing at DVS facilities across the state. Other third parties may apply to administer online testing, but the commissioner is provided the discretion to allow or disallow these applicants.

S.F. 12 Expands DHS’s Customized Living Quality Improvement grants program to be available for the brain injury (BI), community access for disability inclusion (CADI), and elderly waiver (EW) programs. The bill also adds another DHS program flexibility to be extended into 2021 that would allow remote interviews for MFIP and the use of electronic signatures for enrollment verification to continue. 

  • Retention Grants: $20,305,000 from the federal coronavirus relief fund to DHS to create a grant program to assist certain disability service providers with costs of business interruptions required by COVID-19 closures and to maintain the provider’s capacity to provide services to clients. Give an immediate influx of funding to prevent closure Providers who are open or were recently allowed to open may continue to bill for services and be eligible for grants. 

  • Reinvention Grants: $10,125,000 from the federal coronavirus relief fund for ‘reinvention grants’ for certain day and employment service providers to continue moving towards integrated, community-based employment services and reduce facility-based/sheltered service settings. Maximum grant amount: $200,000. 

    Eligible providers include:
         • Adult day services, day training and rehabilitation, day support services providers.
         • Employment service providers for people with disabilities

Senator Torres Ray’s Bills

S.F. 25 Extends reporting and use of appropriation for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force.

S.F. 30- PROMISE Act establishes Funding and Policy for the Reconstruction of the Twin Cities. Creates a community repair panel to consider claims and determine awards; establishes the classification of certain data; creates redevelopment and relief programs; establishes a Metropolitan Area Redevelopment Corporation; imposes a sales and use tax; requires insurance claims assistance; regulates certain leases; authorizes limited use of eminent domain; exempts certain items from sales and use tax; requires property tax abatement for certain properties and establishes the Civil Unrest Investigatory Commission.

S.F. 31- A school board, at a public meeting, must adopt a comprehensive, long-term strategic plan to support and improve teaching and learning that is aligned with creating the world's best workforce and includes:

  1. Clearly defined district and school site goals and benchmarks for instruction and student achievement for all student subgroups.

  2. Strategies for improving instruction, curriculum, and student achievement, including, where practicable, the native language development and the academic achievement of English learners, and for all learners, access to culturally relevant or ethnic studies curriculum using culturally responsive methodologies.

  3. A process to examine the equitable distribution of teachers and strategies to ensure children from low-income families, families of color, and American Indian families are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, ineffective, or out-of-field teachers.

  4. Education effectiveness practices that integrate high-quality instruction, rigorous curriculum, technology, inclusive and respectful learning and work environments for all students, families, and staff; and a collaborative professional culture that retains qualified and racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse staff effective at working with diverse students while developing and supporting teacher quality, performance, and effectiveness.

S.F. 35- Establishes supply requirements for prescription contraceptives and requires health plans to cover contraceptive methods, sterilization, and related medical services, patient education, and counseling.

S.F. 37- Requires local units of government to establish law enforcement citizen oversight councils and specifies powers and duties of the councils and the responsibilities of local authorities toward them. It also creates a process to collect and analyze data on complaints filed against peace officers, providing for a peace officer discipline report and expanding the membership of the Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training. This bill would establish a Police-Community Relations Council to report to and advise the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board.

This bill also provides for revocation of peace officer license for violating use of force policy, prohibits warrior-style training for peace officers and the use of certain restraints, requires law enforcement agencies to update policies regarding the use of force, establishes a duty for peace officers to intercede when another peace officer is using unreasonable force, and establishes a duty for peace officers to report excessive force incidents.

 Housing Assistance

Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced a $100 million housing assistance program to help prevent evictions, prevent homelessness, and maintain housing stability for individuals and families impacted by COVID-19. The $100 million investment will be funded with federal dollars through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which was authorized by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Applications for assistance are due on Wednesday, July 22nd. Click here for more information.