The Minnesota Legislature is back in the capitol today, after Gov. Tim Walz announced that he would convene a special session last Friday.
Walz, according to a release, continues to support police reform and accountability bills introduced by the Minnesota People of Color and Indigenous Caucus and the Attorney General’s Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters Working Group.
“I am asking Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature to work together on the urgent matters Minnesotans expect them to tackle this summer,” said Walz.
“Our state had a trying few months, and we need the Legislature to rise to the occasion and get things done to help Minnesotans rebuild and recover. Give me a bill to sign on police accountability and reform and let’s work together to build a stronger, more equitable economy by investing in local jobs and projects across the state.”
Other items the legislature is tasked with is the bonding bill and COVID-19 legislation.
House 5A Representative, John Persell (DFL-Bemidji). House 5A includes portions of Beltrami, Cass and Itasca Counties.
This is the second time the legislature has been called for a special session, with the same tasks ahead of them. Republicans in both the House and Senate have voiced that they will block the bonding bill if Gov. Tim Walz doesn’t relinquish his powers under the peacetime emergency order, which may be extended another 30 days.
As Persell mentioned, Bemidji has some stakes in this year’s bonding bill. The latest House version included $12.3 million for a water treatment plant, which will be under construction this year as part of the effort to clean PFAs from the city’s wells. The latest Senate version had about $8 million for the project.
The project is estimated to cost around $16 million, and will be constructed in two phases. The plant will also remove iron and manganese from the water, as those elements must be removed so the PFAs removal will be effective.
The contamination at Bemidji’s wells is sourced to the use of firefighting foam at the Bemidji Regional Airport, right above the well field. The city of Bemidji’s legal team is exploring litigation with the manufacturer of the foam, the Minnesota-based company 3M.
Remote committee hearings, floor sessions and more information on the Minnesota Legislature can be found here.