MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the midst of a busy special session in St. Paul, lawmakers stepped away from the Capitol Sunday afternoon to hear from business owners around town whose livelihoods were damaged or destroyed in recent weeks.

The first part is to see the destruction from the aftermath of the George Floyd protests in person. It is a sobering tour for those who have only seen it on TV or online.

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DFL and GOP state representatives visited businesses in the diverse Midway neighborhood along University Avenue. Many were damaged, looted and set on fire, including grocery and liquor stores, restaurants, clothing shops and more.

Some have been able to reopen, but many remain closed and are in need of repairs or a full rebuild.

Business owners like Tetra Constantino of Elsa’s House of Sleep are worried that if legislators don’t help them, they might never return.

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“Right now I’m hoping that the legislators do all that they can to make sure that we as small businesses, Elsa’s House of Sleep, can stay in the area and continue to thrive and service the community,” Constantino said.

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State Rep. Samantha Vang, DFL-Brooklyn Center, says she is disheartened to see the damage and its impact firsthand.

“Your life is at a standstill. There’s nowhere to turn, and it really hits us hard to be able to see the impact,” Vang said.

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Sen. Tina Smith also visited damaged University Avenue businesses on Saturday, and says she’s working on legislation over the past few weeks to help businesses.