This past week I and so many of you have been thinking and talking about the impending trial of Derek Chauvin, scheduled to start today. Jury selection begins, and it sounds like the trial itself is anticipated to begin on March 29. Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. On Friday, March 5, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the prosecutor erred when he refused reinstate a third-degree murder charge. I haven’t found out yet if that charge has been reinstated.
Most of us are horrified bystanders in all this, many have been victims of the ensuing civil unrest – with more feared as the trial proceeds. We’ve had conversations with SPPD about how businesses can prepare, have shared that information, and will continue to keep you appraised as the trial goes on.
Law enforcement agencies have come together to set up social media channels to keep us posted: Operation Safety Net. You can livestream the trial at Court TV’s website.
See you in the trenches.
From the MDH website: as of Friday, March 5, over 1M Minnesotans have had at least one vaccine dose. 570K have had both. Within the target age group of 65+, 64% have gotten at least one dose. Minnesota now has jumped to 3d in the nation for vaccine distribution. Also notable is the receipt of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the last week of Feb. Vaccination sites have expanded into the East Metro, to include the Roy Wilkins in Saint Paul and the Vikings Training Facility in Eagan.
COVID-19 Vaccine Connector: COVID-19 Vaccine Connector Vaccine Info Hub: Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine information hub
The Chamber is focusing its advocacy efforts on the PPP tax conformity. We’re encouraged about the news coming out of the Senate about bipartisan cooperation to get the bill passed. If you haven’t yet, please contact your State Senator and Representative (or email John on our PA team) to urge them to support federal tax conformity.
The Senate passed President Biden’s Pandemic Aid Plan – the American Rescue Plan. Nice touch with the name, huh? At $2.2 trillion, it’s just shy of the March 2020 stimulus bill. But it involved a lot of drama. In the Senate, Republicans unanimously opposed it. Now it’s back to the House for a final vote. Included: $1400 one-time direct payment to many Americans (the third stimulus check approved) Unemployment insurance of $300/week through the summer $ for vaccine distribution $ for child tax credit $370 billion for tribes, states, counties, cities (Dakota Cty = $84M; Hennepin Cty = $247M; Ramsey Cty = $107M; Washington Cty = $51M) What’s not included? An increase in the federal minimum wage to $15.
Three of the few issues that has enthusiastic support among both parties: money for COVID-19 tests and vaccines; business support; and boosting support for those caring for children.
The budget impact? The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that this bill would add #.862 trillion to the national deficit over 10 years, with the bulk of the new spending - $1.173 trillion – occurring in FY 2021. https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/2021-03/Recontable.pdf
Which downtown restaurants and breweries have opened their patios?
We’re closely watching the Lexington Station project. In February, Saint Paul’s Planning Commission voted to disapprove the site plan for this $57M housing development on land adjacent to the Wilder Foundation at Lexington and University. Lots of layers to this one. On the face of it, the City’s own attorney warned the Planning Commission that it has no legal standing to oppose a plan that meets zoning requirements, seeks no variances or public assistance. And the vote represents no defensible strategic position given that this project plans to deliver over 50% affordable housing. The concerns? Still not enough. Again, lots of layers, may of them that go beyond the project itself. The City Council will address the developer’s appeal in mid-March. Stay tuned.