Special Session II continues
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July 17, 2020
Special Session Underway

Special Session II started on Mon., July 13. The first item of business in the Senate was to vote in disapproval of the governor’s extension of emergency powers, just as they did during the first special session. In the House, after a nearly four-hour long debate, the body voted in support of the extension.

"We have no idea whether we are in the management phase or the emergency phase of this disease," said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler.

The two top priorities for Special Session II appear to be bonding and police reform. The House’s bonding package has passed committee and is headed to the floor for a vote before the whole body. The bill is $1.8 billion in size, and among other items, includes:
  • $323 million in General Obligation and Transportation Funds for MnDOT for road construction.
  • $300 million in Trunk Highway Bonds including:
    • $84 million for road construction.
  • $110 million for Rail Grade Separations.
  • $10 million for Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program.
  • $2 million for Innovative Business Development Public Infrastructure Grants.
  • $100 million for Housing Infrastructure Bonds to buy and build multifamily rental housing for households at or below 50% of median income.

Senate Majority Leader Gazelka says the package has been mostly agreed to and believes a bonding bill will pass in the Senate. What he says he is unsure about is whether it has the votes in the House. Some House Republican members have stated that the bill does not have support from their caucus.

"It isn’t going anywhere, you don’t have the votes to pass it," said Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston).

A bonding bill requires a three-fifths supermajority to pass, which means that the House DFL will need Republican votes to get it to the finish line. Three-fifths of the 134 member House is 81 votes, and there are currently 75 DFL members.

Another big item we will see come back this special session is police reform. Last special session, the Senate and the House each brought forward their own versions of police reform packages, but the two bodies could not come to any type of compromise, so no legislation was passed. There is no word on any kind of agreement in this issue area.

Except for Monday and Tuesday, no floor sessions were held this week. The Senate and House both come back into session on Monday, July 20. In the meantime, a few committee hearings took place this week and it can be assumed that there was a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on.
They Said it...

"Minnesotans are relying on us to respond in real time to a virus that we are still learning more about. We cannot end necessary protections that are saving lives and keeping people safe."
–Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan on the extension of emergency powers

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