Update from Senator Karla Bigham

Posted 10/27/21

The Legislature will return to the regular legislative session on January 31, 2022. A special session might occur before the new year to address the critical issues like the disbursement of $250 …

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Update from Senator Karla Bigham


The Legislature will return to the regular legislative session on January 31, 2022. A special session might occur before the new year to address the critical issues like the disbursement of $250 million to frontline workers that took care of us during this pandemic and providing aid to farmers who have been deeply affected by drought this past summer. The Senate Republicans, however, are playing politics with the lives of our frontline workers and farmers by holding hostage the Senate confirmation of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. They have had over two years to confirm Commissioner Malcolm but have decided instead to remove her immediately. In the meantime, I am taking the opportunity to connect what I do at the Capitol to the people in our community.

Community safety is a top issue across Minnesota. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I have a responsibility to help bring forth solutions to the issues facing our communities. The COVID-19 public health crisis has unmistakably exacerbated disparities already felt by marginalized communities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, mental health crises, chemical use, and domestic abuse have increased across the state. We must not overlook any of these pressing issues at the Capitol.

There is no better way to learn about a job than spending time with those who do it every day. Recently, I toured the Dakota County Jail and had a thorough discussion about the county correctional system with the fantastic staff. I completed a ride-along with an officer from the Cottage Grove Police Department as they did their usual Friday night patrol. I witnessed the officer and his team respond to medical calls, domestic assault, drunk drivers, and security alarms going off. I also tagged along on water patrol with Washington County Sheriff’s Department where I had a great experience watching how they keep our waterways safe and enjoyable.

I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the SMART Center in Dakota County. The SMART Center facility will be a new home for crisis response and de-escalation training that is required of law enforcement officers and first responders. The Minnesota Crisis Intervention Team, a statewide leader in specialized training, will have dedicated facilities at the SMART Center.

I also toured the State Patrol Academy at Camp Ripley. The State Patrol Academy is where troopers become experts in the “safe, efficient movement of traffic on Minnesota’s roadways.” I learned more about the troopers and the work they do on our highways to keep everyone safe, the training required for their job, and the collaboration they have with other agencies. It is essential that training programs and facilities like these are properly funded so that Minnesota’s law enforcement has the tools and resources to be trained in forward-thinking safety protocols.

Hastings area advocates have shared their frustrations with me about repeat offenders selling dangerous fentanyl-laced drugs through social media. The fentanyl poisoning epidemic is impacting communities across Minnesota in tragic ways. Leaders, community members, law enforcement, and non-profits are working together to bring awareness and resources to stop this epidemic.

Next session the Legislature will be a “policy year,” so we will focus on developing new laws and reviewing existing ones. Prior to session, I will be meeting with advocates for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and those affected by opioid use. Listening to advocates discuss these difficult issues will help me bring their voices to policy discussions in the Judiciary Committee hearings. Everyone deserves a safe community and working toward that goal is one of my top priorities this upcoming session.

As a supporter of the Veterans Restorative Justice Act, I also look forward to visiting the Washington County Veterans Court when they return to in-person hearings.

Finally, I want to thank the police officers, sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers, state troopers, and advocates for all their hard work in keeping our communities safe. It means a lot that they took the time to show me how their lives are impacted by the policies we pass at the Capitol.

If our office can be of assistance to you, please email me at [email protected] mn or call me at (651) 297-8060. Thank you for the honor of being your state Senator!