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Ahead of special session, Walz to detail police reform and accountability package

Gov. Tim Walz will speak today at 3 p.m.
Governor Tim Walz

Ahead of the special session starting Friday, the Governor's Office has announced a press conference Thursday at 3 p.m., accessible on YouTube, where officials are set to detail a new police reform and accountability package. 

Gov. Tim Walz, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, and members of the bicameral People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus are scheduled to speak. Wednesday, Walz extended the peacetime state of emergency, requiring a special session, which he said would focus on police issues and the economy. 

The governor is the only position allowed to call a special session, and is required to to do so every time a peacetime state of emergency is extended by 30 days. Walz has said that he anticipates "that this is going to be a summer where we’re pretty much in session." 

“Minnesota is at a turning point. This is our chance to take strong action to combat persistent structural inequities, pass substantive police reform, and build a stronger economy,” Walz said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the legislature to seize this moment and build a brighter future for Minnesotans.”

Walz said Wednesday he supports use-of-force reform, funding for alternatives to policing, more police oversight and reform within prosecutorial, investigatory and training processes — recommendations he said come from the POCI caucus and the Attorney General's Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters Working Group. 

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He also said his plans for rebuilding the economy include a bonding proposal, economic assistance for businesses impacted by the pandemic, and working with local partners to provide assistance for businesses affected by destruction in the wake of George Floyd's death. 

Lawmakers will also need to review a massive public works bonding package from this past session, and agree on distributing federal money from the CARES Act to local governments. 

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has said his priority in the special session will be terminating the emergency executive powers, which he argues Walz has abused. 

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