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House sends legislation to governor extending remote marriage license options

House Photography file photo

The COVID-19 virus may be strong, but love is stronger.

HF17/SF26*, which would extend the ability of local registrars to receive and approve marriage license applications during the COVID-19 pandemic using remote technologies, was approved 127-3 Thursday by the House.

Passed 65-0 by the Senate Jan. 19, the bill now goes to the governor.

Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-Roseville), who sponsors HF17/SF26* with Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), said the change would continue to give needed flexibility to local registrars who can now accept electronic filings, mailed or faxed marriage licenses, and allow examination of the parties under oath using audio or video.

[MORE: Session Daily coverage of the bill’s hearing in the House judiciary committee]

House Floor Session 01/28/21

In April 2020, just as the pandemic hit, lawmakers first passed legislation to remove a statutory requirement that two people seeking a marriage license must appear in person before a local registrar to fill out an application, show proof of age, and provide other information.

The bill would extend the provision’s expiration date to May 31, 2021, and make the provisions effective retroactively from Jan. 1, 2021.

Registrars are not required to do so, she said, and can still have in-person options if they abide by current state COVID-19 protocols.

Rep. Brian Johnson (R-Cambridge) unsuccessfully offered an amendment that would have added an extension for local registers to also accept permit to carry applications remotely.

An amendment unsuccessfully offered by Rep. Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls) would have allowed venues offering space for wedding ceremonies or receptions to operate at full capacity regardless of restrictions imposed by the governor’s COVID-19 emergency orders.


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