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Hennepin County will make Juneteenth a "floating" holiday

The board's decision will not add a paid holiday for county employees.

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to make Juneteenth an official holiday, but county employees won’t actually get an additional day off.

The board voted 4-3 to make June 19, Juneteenth, a “floating” holiday, meaning county employees can choose to take the day off in lieu of Christmas Eve. County employees can still take off Christmas Eve or use the floating holiday to take off another day of choice.

The decision would not add to the 11 paid holidays Hennepin County employees are currently allotted.

Commissioners Angela Conley, Marion Greene and Irene Fernando voted against the motion. They instead voiced support for making Juneteenth a new paid holiday for the county. But a motion to do so failed to receive majority support from the board.

Commissioners including Mike Opat of District 1 raised concerns over budget issues caused by adding another paid holiday.

“Budgets are moral decisions too, how you spend people’s money,” Opat said.

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Conley argued making Juneteenth a paid holiday is important when the county also recognizes July 4 as a paid holiday.

“If you’re going to pay us for a holiday that is based on the freedom of American white folks from Britain, then think about the other people,” Conley said. “Think about the Black people who built the White House. Think about the Black people who built this country from the ground up.”

Juneteenth celebrates the anniversary of July 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. The holiday is celebrated across the country as a recognition of the end of slavery in America.

State leaders including Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Sen. Tina Smith have also pushed to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday.  

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