Dan Sparks: Regular session ends, but the work continues in Legislature
Senate Report by Dan Sparks
The 2020 legislative session came to a close this week when we adjourned at midnight on Sunday, May 18. Nevertheless, these next few weeks and months will require flexibility from legislators and the governor as we respond to any further issues that may arise.
One issue where we still can reach agreement is the passage of a strong bonding bill. Though two different bonding bills were voted on in the final days of session, one in the House and one in the Senate, neither received the three-fifths supermajority of votes needed to pass. A compromise bill was in sight, but the clock ran out before it could get done.
I strongly support coming together and finding the compromise necessary to get a bonding bill passed and signed into law. A strong bonding bill will create jobs, repair infrastructure and strengthen our local economies. Though the regular session is over, both bodies of the Legislature have signaled the need to find a healthy compromise and pass a final bill.
Though it will be a few more weeks before the Legislature crosses that bridge, I am proud that we quickly came together in a bipartisan manner to address problems brought on by COVID-19. These measures included:
• Over $32 million in funding to support housing and shelter options for low-income Minnesotans and Minnesotans experiencing homelessness in response to COVID-19
• $200 million in funding to support our state’s health care system, $50 million distributed to provide cash flow relief to health care organizations for their highest priority needs and $150 million for a grant program for health care providers related to COVID-19
• Approximately $30 million for businesses directly impacted by the governor’s closures of restaurants, bars and other places of public accommodation was made available in the form of loans and grants
• $10 million to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19 that do not qualify for an SBA disaster assistance loan. The proposal guarantees 80% of loans up to $200,000
• $21 million in funding for Minnesota’s public health response contingency account
An extension of the mediation period under the Farmer Lender Mediation Act to 150 days.
While these strong bipartisan measures have helped to address many of the challenges facing Minnesota, my colleagues and I stand ready to tackle further issues head-on. I’m prepared to rise to the occasion, and I’m fully committed to working together across the aisle for the good of our state and our communities.
Sen. Dan Sparks represents District 27, which includes all or portions of Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Mower and Steele counties in the southeastern part of the state.