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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jeff Backer (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Jeff Backer

Friday, May 15, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

Wednesday evening, Governor Walz announced that the state’s Stay at Home order will expire on Monday, May 18th. 

Beginning Monday, all retail stores, malls and other businesses that sell, rent, maintain and repair goods can open as long as they have adopted and implemented a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan including social distancing guidelines for workers and customers, and allow no more than 50% of the establishment’s occupant capacity at any time.

Click here for more information: https://bit.ly/2Z0WgEu 

Governor Walz’s announcement is welcome news for thousands of businesses and employees across our state that will be able to return to work on Monday. It has been frustrating to see residents, understandably, cross the border into South Dakota and patronize businesses that have been allowed to stay open while Minnesota businesses have been forced closed. 

Despite this step in the right direction, I am disappointed that restaurants, salons, and other businesses in the hospitality industry will remain closed. Ultimately, Governor Walz needs to trust Minnesotans and allow all businesses to reopen at 100% capacity or adopt a regional approach that will let communities in rural Minnesota get-back-to work.

I am also disappointed that, although the Stay at Home order will expire, the Governor nevertheless extended the peacetime emergency. It’s time for the peacetime emergency to end as well so that the legislature and Governor can work together to respond to COVID-19.

Governor Walz Cancels Graduation Ceremonies

I was disappointed to learn about Governor Walz’s move last week to ban graduation ceremonies statewide, regardless of class size or space available for the ceremony. Before this announcement, many legislators and school districts had already submitted plans to safely conduct their graduation ceremonies.

I've heard from many constituents and school districts about this, and so I signed onto a letter to the Department of Education asking that they rescind these guidelines. You can read that letter here. We need to trust local school districts to make decisions that make sense for their specific circumstances.

Ag. Policy Bill Approved

The House approved this year’s omnibus agriculture bill on Wednesday. The bill focuses on providing resources to farmers in crisis (rural mental health, mediation and advocate services, and disaster loan modifications), farm and grain bin safety, and retail food handlers (PPE for small grocery providers). 

Stay in Touch

As we move into the final weekend of the 2020 legislative session, I encourage you to continue to reach out to me to share your thoughts and concerns. I can be reached by phone at 701-361-1909 or via email at rep.jeff.backer@house.mn.

Be well,

Jeff

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