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Local lawmakers weigh in on upcoming special session: what’s on the table

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Local lawmakers addressed hotly-debated topics Thursday in Eggs and Issues: Potential Special Session hosted by the Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

Senators Nick Frentz, Carla Nelson and Dave Senjem addressed face mask mandates, police reform and the bonding bill.

The senators all agreed that face masks are important to slow the spread of COVID-19 and that people should wear them. They agreed that a statewide mandate isn't necessarily the best option for Minnesotans.

"I do not think the state should pass a statewide masking ordinance that would require our smaller communities that don't have any cases to mask," Sen. Nelson said. "I do appreciate the fact and I have heard from business owners that do want to stay open. They don't want the government to shutter their doors again. I do appreciate the local nature of the masking ordinance."

The senators discussed police reform and agreed that defunding the police was not a good idea.

"I want people to understand there is no DFL platform to defund the police," Sen. Frentz said. "I'm a supporter of law enforcement, and I know a lot of police officers who want to get rid of the bad apples just as much as anyone else."

Frentz said that part of the solution is in police department accountability. Nelson said police reform should be handled on a local level. She used Rochester Police Department's recent proactive response on policy changes as an example.

There was bipartisan agreement on the bonding bill and all hope to reach an agreement. The senators said the bill needs to be focused on economy and helping struggling Minnesotans and businesses get back on their feet. They commented that fellow lawmakers who want their own agendas passed should not hold the bonding bill hostage.

"It's a job-related bill. That's kind of how the way it was portrayed and that's kind of how the way it will go," Sen. Senjem said. "It will be construction job heavy. We need to get people back to work."

The senators said if Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz wants another extension of the emergency peacetime order, Republicans will most likely vote against it along with some DFL legislators.

Megan Zemple

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