Leading senator wants to address racial inequality if there's a special session


Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk says if Gov. Mark Dayton calls a special session, it should also deal with economic issues facing the black community.

Bakk released a statement Wednesday saying if a special session is called, it should also be used to address "challenges facing the black community in Minnesota," MinnPost reports.

“I believe there’s some legislation ready to go to try to address some of those disparities in the black communities, specifically in the urban areas," the DFL senator told MPR News.

And Dayton said Wednesday he supports that idea.

“Sen. Bakk rightly expressed the urgency of the challenges facing communities of color in Minnesota. I thank Sen. Bakk and his caucus for their leadership,” Dayton said in an emailed statement. “I agree that any special session concerning the economic hardships of steelworkers on the Iron Range, should also begin to address the serious economic disparities facing black Minnesotans.”

A special session has previously been discussed for a couple issues, including to extend unemployment benefits for mineworkers who have lost their jobs – an idea Bakk said Tuesday is supported by Senate Democrats.

Bakk also told MPR News Wednesday he supports addressing the lack of walleye in Lake Mille Lacs and how that's affected businesses in the area. Dayton called for a special session on that issue over the summer, but talks to organize one broke down.

Senate Democrats have also said they support including Minnesota's compliance with federal ID standards in a special session, the Pioneer Press notes.

Dayton previously said a special session may be needed to deal with it, but on Tuesday the governor said he believes it can wait until the Legislature meets again starting March 8, 2016.

House Republicans haven't said if they're open to a special session, let alone what the agenda should include, MPR News says.

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