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Bakk supports special session for laid-off steelworkers and wants help for the black community, too

The Senate Majority Leader gave support to Gov. Dayton’s plan for a special session to help laid-off steelworkers, then took it a step further with a suggestion that there might be ways to help fight poverty in the black community.

Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal to help laid-off steelworkers on the Iron Range received support Tuesday from state Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk.

Then today, Bakk went a step further, suggesting that a special session might also consider ways to fight poverty and unemployment in the black community. 

In a statement, Dayton said he’s fine with that: “I agree that any special session concerning the economic hardships of steelworkers on the Iron Range, should also begin to address the serious economic disparities facing Black Minnesotans.”

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Republican state House leaders have not yet publicly responded to Dayton’s request.

Dayton’s original plan was to help hundreds of steelworkers who lost their jobs on the Iron Range and will exhaust their unemployment benefits before the Legislature returns to session in March.

After endorsing that idea, Bakk then said if there is a special session, he’d like to see legislation to “focus on challenges facing the black community in Minnesota.”

In a statement, he said there’s interest in finding ways to “address the complex, multifaceted drivers of persistent unemployment and increasing poverty levels experienced by many Black Minnesotans in any special session.”