Capitol Update: July Special Session, Last Email Update

July Special Session

The Covid pandemic is alive and well. But it has been moderated in Minnesota, thanks to the leadership of Governor Walz and his health team. However, it won’t take much for virus to resurge stronger, so I am glad the Governor has the Peacetime Emergency powers in order to monitor it and to moderate it by being able to move quickly. Every 30 days, as the need continues, he must extend the Emergency and therefore call the Legislature back to have an opportunity to disagree by a majority vote in both bodies.

So here we are again: a July Special Session. Once again, the issues of this special session are the same as before: criminal justice reform and the bonding bill that maintains our public infrastructure and creates the jobs needed to do so.

The release of the federal CARES funding to local governments for their Covid needs did not get done by a divided legislature in last special session in June, but, with his emergency powers, Gov. Walz took care of it. I want the legislature to get past the divisiveness and work together! Until then, the buck has to stop somewhere.

With the pressing need for transformational change in criminal justice and policing, it has been so disappointing to watch the Senate Republicans spend endless hours on the destructiveness that used the protests as cover, while actively refusing to attend to the core issue of racism in our criminal justice system and, in fact, in all our systems. I will hold out hope for the next regular session in January to discuss, debate, research and offer vital solutions, with new legislators elected.

Last Email Update

As you may know, I will not be joining in that legislative work next January. I am not running for re-election. Several months ago, I announced that I will retire from the Legislature at the end of 2020.

It has been my absolute privilege to serve the cities of Columbia Heights, Fridley, St. Anthony, New Brighton, Hilltop and Spring Lake Park for 10 years in the House of Representatives and now, as Assistant Minority Leader, in the current 4-year term of the Senate. I am very grateful to you for the opportunity to represent you in the legislature for 14 years.

Some of the legislation of which I am most proud addresses both birth and death. I have authored legislation to support doulas for women in childbirth and prison reforms for women inmates and their birthing, as well as legislation that makes possible home funerals and green burials to expand how we can care for our loved ones after death.

The issue I have spent the most legislative time on is Family Law: six years of work creating nation-leading changes regarding the challenging work of establishing parenting time when parents separate. I have particularly enjoyed serving eight years on the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans and, out of that experience, I worked hard to restructure the statutes to enable our three Ethnic Councils to have a stronger voice in legislative work.

These and many other issues have absorbed me, and I have given them my best. I know good people will be stepping up to the responsibility to follow me in this role.

This will be my last email update because two months after regular session ends, it officially becomes election season and, at this point, legislators cannot use state resources for unsolicited communications such as an e-update. My office will continue to be a resource to you, and I remain your Senator until the end of the year. Please continue to feel free to reach out for assistance or with your suggestions or concerns. I can be reached at

It is an honor to serve you; thank you for entrusting me with this work for our communities over these fourteen years. As roles change, our shared job of building community and democracy continues through the extraordinary challenges of these times. As always, we do it together!