At Issue: March 7 — Lawmakers aim to tackle police reform, racial justice; preview of Chauvin trial

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As Minneapolis prepares for the potential of unrest ahead of Derek Chauvin’s trial, Democrats in Congress and the Minnesota Legislature work to address police misconduct and what they’re calling systemic racism.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime piece of legislation,” U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-5th District) told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS about the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. “It is named after George Floyd, but it is a bill for every single victim who has been taken from our communities at the hands of those who were sworn to protect them. It’s about making our policing a more just system.”

“We can talk about the root problems until we’re blue in the face,” said state Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul. “But we have to address the root problems — or we’re just complaining.”

Both the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in Washington and a nearly $500 million bill sponsored by Thompson are struggling to gain Republican support. With a slim Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate and Republicans controlling the Minnesota Senate, both bills stand little chance of becoming law.

Meanwhile, Chauvin’s trial is making downtown Minneapolis businesses nervous. Some are boarding up and some are staying open, hoping for the best. It’s been a long year for many businesses, who are also hoping the Minnesota Legislature will help exempt taxes from the federal PPP loans. Our political analysts explain what the tax break could mean – and evaluate how the governor is handling the pandemic.