Rep. Bobby Jo Champion Touts Legislation to Rebuild North Minneapolis

Bobby Jo Champion represents district 59A. That includes part of downtown, the north loop and North Minneapolis. Nearly a year after the tornado on May 22, 2011, many northside residents are still struggling to put their lives back together.

Rep. Champion’s district lost more than 9,000 households, according to the 2010 Census. That doesn’t include those who fled after the tornado. His constituents are saddled with less tax revenue to contribute to quality schools. Champion stresses that if you don’t have safe, affordable housing, businesses and other organizations will find it hard to stay on the north side, and the quality of life diminishes.

Tornado legislative help this year has been limited
As the 2012 legislative session winds to a close, Champion and his fellow lawmakers across the aisle have agreed on one piece of legislation to help tornado-damaged North Minneapolis: expedite the process for a liquor store to move across the street on Broadway and Penn Avenues.

“If this business went through the city’s process, it would have taken them 16 months. That would kill a business. We need to make sure business owners stay as opposed to flee.”

During last year’s special summer session to stop a Minnesota government shutdown, the legislature did more for the north side: lawmakers passed a $9 million FEMA match for tornado victims, they authorized county boards to grant abatements of 2011 property taxes and authorized TIF pooling to spend tax increments from any district to provide reconstruction in the tornado-damaged area.

But was that enough? Has the response by local and state government been adequate to help North Minneapolis?

Allison Herrera

Allison Herrera, originally from San Luis Obispo, Calif.,  studied media and Spanish at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., where she earned her bachelor s. Since moving to the Twin Cities, she has been a news producer for KFAI Fresh Air Community Radio, communications coordinator for Twin Cities Public Television's arts series MN Original, and producer for the Association of Minnesota Public and Educational Radios Stations for the series MN90: Minnesota History in 90 Seconds.

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