by Scott McClallen
Minnesota House Democrats are proposing to spend taxpayer money to rebuild hundreds of million of dollars of damage rioters caused to the Twin Cities last summer after the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
Rep. Mohamud Noor, DFL-Minneapolis, sponsored House File 6.
“Our community is still struggling to heal from the collective trauma of George Floyd’s murder, the civil unrest that followed, and the psychological upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Noor said. “The PROMISE Act is a continued promise to support Black, Indigenous and Immigrant-owned businesses to build back better and stronger. Our job is to provide community members and impacted businesses with the resources necessary to recover and rebuild the culture and vibrancy of Minnesota.”
HF 6, first approved by House lawmakers in June of 2020, seeks to provide $167 million in direct assistance to small businesses and $125 million to compensate businesses for uninsured property losses.
HF 728, sponsored by Rep. Fue Lee, DFL-Minneapolis, aims to authorize the sale of $300 million in appropriation bonds to rebuild damaged private businesses. About $200 million would go to small businesses in Minneapolis, and $100 million would be sent to small businesses in St. Paul.
Lee said the riots devastated communities of color through both cities, and many small businesses without insurance were destroyed.
“The average insurance payout has fallen far short of what these businesses need to recover,” Lee said. “This is an unprecedented and extraordinary situation, but it does come at a time when our state is experiencing low interest rates and a AAA bond rating – which are both economic measures that show Minnesota has the means to effectively use redevelopment appropriation bonds to deliver a lifeline to the cultural and economic heart of these communities.”
The Lake Street Council estimates there are approximately $250 million in uninsured, infrastructure-related expenses for small businesses along Minneapolis’ Lake Street corridor.
HF 6 seeks to give out grants capped at $250,000 per entity if that entity stays in the community for at least three years and submits a plan for continued operations.
The legislation seeks to waive the sales tax on the purchase of construction materials to rebuild damaged properties and to give property tax relief for buildings vandalized or burned during the riots.
The bill hasn’t yet been vetted by committees so it doesn’t have a total price tag.
Separately, Gov. Tim Walz has proposed a $150 million bonding plan for building repairs.
Republicans have previously rejected the above proposal as a taxpayer-funded bailout of Minneapolis, arguing the massive damage was caused from nonaction from Mayor Jacob Frey, and Walz.
In February, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, called the proposal a “bailout” and questioned why leaders didn’t immediately stop the riots before four days of civil unrest.
Republicans say they don’t want to give Walz access to large amounts of money after he spent nearly $12 million of a disaster relief fund to rebuild Hennepin County from riot damage.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Rioters’ Damage in Minnesota” by Lorie Shaull. CC BY-SA 2.0.