It’s even more critical now than a month ago that the Legislature convene for a special session and take a run at some significant issues that need resolution.
Some 220 buildings were destroyed in Minneapolis riots alone, including a police station and a public library. Officials say a conservative estimate of the cost would be $55 million. While private business cannot use state bonding money to rebuild, bonding money can fund public buildings and new infrastructure.
There are other critical needs for bonding funds, much of which simply include maintaining crumbling state buildings including those at Minnesota State University and South Central College. The Legislature should pass a robust bonding bill.
We believe the Legislature should also take steps to modify police use of force laws that critics say are weak and result in few disciplinary actions for police acting against rules and policies. Proposals range from removing “binding arbitration” from police union contracts that prevent bad cops from being fired permanently to more accountability for police training.
Other suggestions including changing the makeup of the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board to include more non-law enforcement members and increase the board’s power to revoke police officer licenses in disciplinary cases.
The $12 million allocated for police training after the Philando Castile killing has been in some cases not used for mental health training and other intended purposes, according to critics.
And then there’s the COVID-19 response. Much of the initial funding has already been used. There is still need for testing and tracing cases that require hundreds of personnel to call people who’ve tested positive and get them to isolate and let others know of contact.
The coalition to fight COVID that includes the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic and major health care providers deserves funding to continue testing, develop research and help develop a possible vaccine.
And there’s a new awareness of how vulnerable some of our long-term care facilities can be to something like COVID-19. A plan to better secure facilities rounds out a list of serious problems that the Legislature needs to address with a sense of urgency.
There’s also likely to be a healthy debate on standards for reopening more of Minnesota’s economy. That’s also warranted.
The significant challenges we face from the virus of COVID-19 and the virus of racism should provide an opportune time for bipartisanship. We urge the Legislature to take these problems seriously, put aside the politics and show the people of Minnesota it can solve problems.