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The legislative session is over, but there's still more work to do

Greta Gaetz
Posted by Greta Gaetz on 4:07 PM on May 22, 2020

The Minnesota state legislature completed the work of its regular session at midnight on Sunday, May 18 – a time usually marked by lawmakers rushing to make deals and get their priority bills across the finish line. This year, COVID-19 caused significant changes to the legislative process, including the need for legislators to meet with constituents, negotiate, and cast their votes remotely.

The Minnesota Capitol Building in the sun.

Throughout this uncertain time, Twin Cities Habitat has been continuing to advocate for two main priorities this session:

  • funding for housing assistance dollars through the Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP), and
  • investing in infrastructure projects across the continuum of housing through a bonding bill.

During the final weekend of session, the House of Representatives proposed a bonding bill that included $200 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIBs) as well as $48 million in General Obligation (GO) bonds for public housing. A bonding bill requires 60% of the legislative body to vote in favor of the bill for it to pass, and this bill did not gain the required support.

Over in the Senate, they proposed a bonding bill with only $2 million in GO bonds for public housing. This bill also failed to gain the required number of votes and did not pass. The Senate then took up a separate bill that packaged together $100 million for FHPAP, $100 million in HIBs, and a series of regulatory policies related to residential construction. You can read more about the details of that proposal here. This bill passed with a majority of votes but was not taken up by the House before the legislature adjourned.

With the legislature failing to come to a resolution on housing assistance or a bonding bill during the regular session, Habitat is still advocating for our elected leaders to make significant investments in housing when the legislature reconvenes. Lawmakers are continuing to work and are expected to return for a special session on or before June 12. Although the regular session has ended, Governor Walz’s administration and leadership in the House and Senate remain committed to getting housing legislation passed during the special session.

From the 2019 Habitat on the Hill event - Habitat advocates meeting with Governor Walz.We sure do miss our in-person advocacy! But the good news is you can continue advocating virtually.
Photo from Habitat on the Hill - MN 2019.

In the meantime, there will be more opportunities for us to advocate on our priorities. Check out our Virtual Advocacy Resource Center for tools to support your advocacy including meeting outlines, talking points, and guides for virtual lobbying and telling your story. Then, email us if you're interested in meeting with your state lawmakers. Advocacy staff at Twin Cities Habitat can help coordinate a virtual visit between you and your state legislators. Send us a message, and we'll be in touch about next steps.

Lastly, be sure to sign up for Action Alerts to be notified when your voice can make the biggest difference. In the coming weeks, we'll let you know about key actions you can take to support our legislative priorities when lawmakers return for a special session.

Thank you for advocating with us!

Sign up for Action Alerts

Tags: Advocacy, 2020

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