The Legislature recently completed a week-long special session, adjourning with little progress on the most significant issues. The Governor was able to extend his emergency powers by another 30 days despite objections from Republicans in the Senate and the House.
Here is a look at how things unfolded, along with some other news and notes.
Quarry Cinema will open doors Friday and Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30 a.m, offering two showtimes per day. This past weekend, they showed “Avengers” and “Zootopia.” Tickets were $6.
Meanwhile, there’s no word on exactly when Marcus Parkwood Cinema would reopen.
Earlier in June, Governor Walz allowed Minnesota to move into Phase III of the statewide “stay safe” order, allowing movie theaters and other entertainment venues to reopen at 25 percent capacity.
Crossroads Center opening up a temporary drive-in-movie theater
If you are looking for another cool way to watch a flick, a good option would be to go to Crossroads Center.
Crossroads Center in St. Cloud will open a temporary drive-in movie theater in their parking lot. The traveling drive-in theater company called Cinema Pop-Ups opened Friday, June 26, with a showing of the film “Gravity.”
The pop-up theater opens 60-90 minutes before the film starts and is based on first-come first-served. To buy tickets, you can download their app, or go to their website cross roadscenter.com to view upcoming movies.
Crossroads Center is located at 4104 West Division Street in
New sports guidance
The Minnesota Department of Heath issued new guidance on sports participation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Youth sports games and scrimmages can resume June 24, or later for outdoor sports, and July 1, or later for indoor sports.
The guidance seeks to balance the goals of minimizing disease transmission and allowing young people to engage in sports activities that have important physical, emotional, and social benefits. It also provides additional clarifications and recommendations for adult sports competitions this summer.
View the new sports guidance and answers to frequently asked questions at Community Settings: COVID-19 at health.state.mn.us.
Small business grant program
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has announced that the Minnesota Small Business Relief Grants Program has begun accepting applications. The application period began Tuesday, June 23, and will run until Thursday, July 2, at 5 p.m. Eligibility requirements and application information can be found on DEED’s Small Business Relief Grants page at mn.gov.
Governor’s emergency powers
We are more than 100 days into the Governor’s peacetime emergency declaration. This decision may have been warranted back in mid-March to make quick decisions as COVID-19 first became a real concern in our state, but I believe it is no longer needed today. The Governor’s numerous unilateral decisions greatly impact Minnesotans without the due process we deserve. I believe we no longer have an emergency. It is time to end the emergency powers, restore balance at the Capitol, and safely re-open our state.
I am not sure if Governor Walz will call us back for another special session. The Governor would need to call another special session by July 12 in order to extend his powers by another 30 days. I hope that does not happen but, if I had to guess, it’s likely. If he doesn’t, his peacetime emergency powers end and then so do his executive orders. If the Governor does extend his emergency powers, he will call us back into session sometime around the Fourth of July.
Special session: An abandoned agreement
The Senate adjourned from the special session early Saturday morning June 20. A week of negotiations on how best to spend federal CARES dollars, assemble a bonding bill, and pass police accountability ultimately broke down over stalemates.
During the special session, the CARES act bill, which divides $841 million between every county, city, and town in Minnesota, was agreed upon by both the House and Senate. The Senate passed the agreed-upon language. The House amended more than $140 million of new spending and previously unseen legislation onto the bill at the Governor’s insistence, reneging on our agreement, and effectively eliminating it for the session.
Over that week, the Senate did its job tackling major issues that Minnesota faced and working towards legislative compromises that help all our residents.
When you hear Democrats talk about why the special session ended unproductively, they’ll likely say that it was because the Senate did nothing on police reform. This couldn’t be further from the truth in my estimation. The Senate did their job when it came to police accountability, passing several major bipartisan reforms tackling the root of the public safety issues we face. Unfortunately, these weren’t enough for Democrats who took an all-or-nothing approach that required additional “reforms” from them that do nothing to address the problems we face. We need to have public hearings that have input from multiple sources, not just one. The legislature should not take proposals from any single organization, and pass it into law without public hearings and input. Not the NRA, Education Minnesota, ALEC, or POCIC; all proposals should face the scrutiny of public review.
The Senate’s 11 police accountability bills included many agreed-upon ideas, like banning chokeholds, removing arbitration powers, and letting judges resolve union firing contracts. The House offered 22 bills, including extreme provisions like felon voting and dismantling police departments. The state’s constitution stipulates a bonding bill must originate in the House. The Senate made it known that a bonding bill needed to arrive to the Senate by Friday, but a bonding bill was not even brought up for a vote in the House before the Friday deadline and the Senate adjourned.
I am personally appalled that the Governor and his administration brought Washington-style heavy-handed politics to St. Paul and Minnesota. Here in the halls of our Capitol in St. Paul, our word is our bond. If your word cannot be trusted, then negotiations are fruitless. That is what occurred during this special session, I believe.
Discussions continue even though we are not in session but, without the costs associated with session. The cost for the additional security provided by the State Patrol for the eight days of special session was more than $100,000. That does not include the additional costs for the clerks’ and secretaries’ offices and staffs. We will and should continue our work and come to agreements, then call the special session with agreed-upon (in writing) legislation.
Senator Howe applauds the release of COVID CARES act funding to local entities
On Thursday, June 25, Governor Walz announced he would compromise with the legislature and agree to distribute $841 million in federal CARES funding to local entities. The distribution is according to the approved compromise legislation the Senate and House agreed to in the special session.
We worked together to come to a compromise in the legislature, and it’s good to see the Governor fairly distribute these funds. These are dollars our local communities need to address the growing financial burden from the costs of fighting COVID, along with lost revenue due to COVID. I’m very happy the funds are finally going to be fairly distributed to where they are needed. However, I feel this should have been completed during session.
The compromise agreement distributed local government funding fairly to Minnesota counties, cities, and towns based on a formula using their populations. The Senate passed the agreed-upon legislation with nearly unanimous support during the special session. The legislation brought transparency and fairness to the distribution since the federal funds were not subject to legislative approval and could be spent unilaterally by Governor Walz.
Minnesota received almost $2 billion from the federal government to help local governments, health professionals, and businesses fight COVID. That money went into an account called the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, so it could be quickly deployed to places it is needed most.
Further resources can be viewed at senate.mn.
CARES Act eligible distribution amounts
Stearns County – $19,361,975
Benton County – $4,905,923
Avon – $123,483
Cold Spring – $316,504
Holdingford – $54,019
Kimball – $59,896
Paynesville – $189,330
Richmond – $111,353
Rockville – $193,624
Sartell – $1,412,931
St. Cloud – $5,138,356.
St. Joseph – $551,340
St. Stephen – $66,375
Waite Park – $585,921
Rice – $101,785
Sauk Rapids – $1,051,298
Avon – $58,325
Brockway – $70,850
Collegeville – $85,650
Eden Lake – $39,475
Fair Haven – $38,775
Holding – $29,325
LeSauk – $45,875
Luxemburg – $16,475
Lynden – $50,300
Maine Prairie – $48,675
Munson – $38,925
Paynesville – $36,925
St. Joseph – $26,475
St. Wendel – $54,875
Wakefield – $72,000
Zion – $8,700
As always I’m continuing to support constituent needs. Feel free to contact me anytime.
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Senator Jeff Howe
3235 Minnesota Senate Building
95 University Avenue West
Saint Paul, MN 55155
Tel: (651) 296-2084