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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Legislative update

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Dear Neighbor, 

As we look ahead to the Memorial Day weekend, please join me in honoring the men and women of our armed forces who have fallen with a sincere tribute for the sacrifices they made to protect us and in defense of liberty.

As for legislative notes, the House adjourned at midnight Monday as scheduled. A number of “smaller” bills were passed during the final days of session, but a bonding package and a tax bill were not among them. The governor is expected to call legislators back to St. Paul the middle of next month, so work on the unfinished items of business could take place at that time.

Here is a look at some other news:

Governor’s announcement

On Wednesday, Gov. Walz announced guidance for the next phases of his Stay Safe MN plan. This includes:

  • Restaurants: Outdoor service only, maximum of 50 customers, masks required, six feet distance.
  • Personal Services (salons, tattoos, barbershops): Six feet distance, maximum 25% of capacity, masks required. 
  • Churches: Services of 10 people or less indoors and outdoors, drive-up services allowed. 
  • Campgrounds: Open with guidance
  • Gyms, personal fitness, yoga: CLOSED
  • Entertainment (bowling, movie theaters, arcades): CLOSED

The governor is leaving churches behind as other places start to see even slight flexibility in re-opening. His restriction limiting churches to 10 people inside at once is problematic. That’s really concerning to me and it underscores the inconsistencies in the governor’s orders. The stipulations on capacities businesses are allowed to serve and where they may serve them are all over the board. 

In general, the path the governor laid out today does not do nearly enough to safely re-open our businesses that have been subject to the governor's shutdown for months on end. Many businesses simply can’t survive until June 1 under these restrictions. It doesn’t make sense to allow hundreds of people in the aisles of big box stores while limiting churches to 10 people, or that salons are allowed to reopen but restaurants are restricted to outdoor service. We must trust our businesses to protect the health and safety of customers and employees. 

Veterans Virtual Career Fair

A Veterans Virtual Career Fair is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. this Thursday, May 28. The career fair is open to veterans, transitioning service members, currently serving Reserve and National Guard, family members of veterans, and caregivers of veterans. Click here for more information regarding the event, including registration details.

Flexibility for charitable gambling organizations

This week, the Department of Revenue announced it is offering an extension for Lawful (Charitable) Gambling tax payments for organizations affected by COVID-19.

Details for how to submit the requests can be found on the MN Department of Revenue’s website; the due date is May 27. Organizations that request an extension will have until June 22 to make their payments.

Organizations affected by COVID-19 may also request that the Department of Revenue abate late-payment or late filing penalties or interest. Those guidelines can be found here.

These organizations support everything from veterans’ homes to local food shelves and their ability to raise funds has been severely limited by the closure of bars and restaurants. It is good to see additional flexibility is being provided.

Have a good weekend and look for more news soon, especially regarding a potential special session.

Sincerely,

Chris

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