The information included in this article was accurate at the time that this issue went to print. Things at the Minnesota State Legislature are moving quite quickly, as they usually do around this time, and they may have changed by the time the alley hits the streets.

A drum group opened the rally at the Minnesota State Capitol on March 21 to advocate for passage of the Clyde Bellecourt Urban Indigenous Legacy Initiative. Photo Credit: Derrick Vorpahl, AIOIC

An Urban Indigenous Legacy funding bill has been “laid over” to be possibly included in a senate capital investment omnibus bill. The bill, formally known in the Senate as Senate File 2009 was introduced on March 30 by co-author Senator Scott Dibble (DFL – District 61) at a meeting of the Senate Capital Investment Committee responsible for putting together that specific omnibus bill. According to Senator Dibble’s introductory comments, the Urban Indigenous Legacy Funding Initiative encapsulates 16 organizations across the Twin Cities focused on using community-centered approaches to respond to disparities and inequities in Indigenous communities.

The bill, if passed in its current form, would provide $136.4 million to those organizations for urgent repairs and renovations to the buildings housing these organizations.

“Services provided are education, healthcare, jobs, training, housing, childcare, nutrition, and the arts and other forms of enrichment,” said Senator Dibble. “Closets have been made into exam rooms. Buckets catch the rain coming in. Some are so old they don’t meet all the fire codes but have been grandfathered.”

Senate File 2009’s chief author is Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL – District 39), but she was not able to present the bill in committee.

Senator Dibble was joined by several testifiers speaking in support of the bill, including Marisa Miakonda Cummings, President and CEO of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MIWRC), located in the Phillips community. Cummings overviewed the bill and the 16 organizations that would be funded by the bill.

“Safe and functioning buildings will allow us to increase the number of clients served, generate more jobs, and reverse the negative disparities that exist, all positively impacting the State of Minnesota,” said Cummings. “We are here because we are interested in upstream solutions. We are a collaboration of educated, innovative leaders who have data to support the incredible work of our organizations and the positive impact we have on community.”

Cummings also discussed the work of the MIWRC and how it would benefit from the bill if passed.
“We serve over 6000 clients a year with a building that lacks functionality, comfort, safety, sustainability, and efficiency,” said Cummings.

A House version of the bill, House File 2207, authored by Representative Hodan Hassan (DFL – District 62B) was heard in the House Capital Investment Committee on March 20 on an informational basis, meaning that no vote on the legislation was taken. Next steps for the House legislation are unknown.
Additionally, on March 21, the day after the House information hearing, community members organized by the American Indian OIC held a press conference and rally at the Capitol aimed at drawing attention to the proposed legislation.

As of the time this issue went to print, it is unknown whether or not Senate File 2009 will be included in the Senate’s Capital Investment omnibus bill.