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Interview: Rep. Rena Moran Speaks As Legislative Session Nears Its End

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Esme Murphy spoke with the DFL chair of the House Ways and Means Committee (5:34). WCCO Sunday Morning - May 16, 2021

Video Transcript

ESME MURPHY: Well, we just heard the Republican perspective. A short time ago, I spoke to the DFL Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rena Moran. Take a look.

And joining us right now is House Ways and Means Committee Chair and also obviously a member of the POCI caucus, Rena Moran, Representative from St. Paul. Thank you so much for coming on.

RENA MORAN: Well, good morning. Thank you so much for the invitation to be here.

ESME MURPHY: You know, I want to ask you something. Brooklyn Center last night passed police reform measures that are very similar to some the legislature are considering. What are your thoughts about that? Does that have any kind of impact?

RENA MORAN: You know, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and Daunte Wright, you know, Minnesotans are asking for increased police accountability, in addition to a safe community. So I know, here in the Minnesota House of Representatives, we are trying to answer the call for both funding for law enforcement and reforms.

ESME MURPHY: Well, if this little city could do it, do you think the legislature might be able to? Obviously it's not-- it's definitely apples to oranges.

RENA MORAN: Well we-- we know, despite the demand for meaningful changes, the Senate Republican held no hearings on police reform or accountability measures, but the DFL house proposal to provide $2 million for local police on issues around cameras and reform training and update to policy manuals.

And so police reform, in our proposals are measured. They require the release of body cams, collections and misconduct data and allowing for local authorities to strengthen civilians oversight boards and [? approve ?] regulatory checks, if they choose. Much like what happened over in Brooklyn Center.

So, you know, we are grateful for public servants and the law enforcement professions who [INAUDIBLE] but we have to focus on police accountability in place. And you know, it is in all our negotiations, that has been at front and center, about how we need to move forward this session.

ESME MURPHY: Where is that on the priority list for you, the police reform?

RENA MORAN: It's at the top.

ESME MURPHY: It's at the top. OK.

RENA MORAN: It's at the top.

ESME MURPHY: All right. Let's-- let's talk about some of the other priorities. The budget. The governor's budget. Democrats have been pushing a budget that would increase the corporate tax rate, increase the top tax bracket for people earning-- couples earning over a million dollars. Are you still on board with that? Senator Gazelka says this is not the time to be doing that.

RENA MORAN: Well, you know, what we do know is that this pandemic, COVID-19, did not hit all communities the same. And so, in order for us to ensure a bright future for all Minnesotans as our state recovers from the pandemic, we need to make strategic investment in education and health care and our economy, while also balancing the budget.

And so we do believe that it won't be corporations and the wealthiest Minnesotans to pay their fair share, so that our students and our families and small businesses are able to make it out of this pandemic, short term and into the future.

ESME MURPHY: OK. What about the governor's special powers? Do you think he should continue to have these special powers in June? I mean, do you think that's something that you would support?

RENA MORAN: You know-- well, what we know is that I am happy and we are-- I think most people are elated that we have finally been able to take our masks off if you've been vaccinated. You've gotten both your shots. That we can go to some type-- back to a sense of normalcy and to create a new norm.

And so, but we're not quite out of the woods, you know. And I do-- do believe that there will come a time when the governor will release-- give up that emergency power that he has.

ESME MURPHY: The House, of course, voted historically to pass legalized marijuana. One of the things that a lot of people argued and made a point and you were one of them, is that this is not just about marijuana. This is about racial justice and equity. Can you explain that?

RENA MORAN: It is definitely more than looking at the-- the millions of dollars that legalizing marijuana would bring into our state. But it also is about racial justice. It is about equity, which is also at the forefront of the Minnesota House DFL in the Republican body-- I'm sorry. In the governor-- but we know that African-Americans, low income communities have been targeted to this marijuana prohibition that has not worked. It'll destroy people's lives. It has, you know, brought way too many people into the criminal justice system.

So we have provisions to not only legalize marijuana and to create more businesses in the state of Minnesota, but to also begin to expunge some of these charges that have been placed on so many people in their lives.

ESME MURPHY: And Chair Moran, looks like we're headed to a special session, doesn't it?

RENA MORAN: I would say it's going to be a special session.

ESME MURPHY: All right. Well, Chair Moran. Thank you so much. I know you're really busy all weekend. You've been working all weekend. We really appreciate your time this morning.

RENA MORAN: Thank you so much and have a great day.