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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Shane Mekeland (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, May 22, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

Please join me in honoring the men and women of our armed forces who have fallen as we reach this Memorial Day weekend. While we can never repay them for the sacrifices they made to protect us and in defense of liberty, we owe it to those who have served to keep their legacies alive. God bless our soldiers and God bless America!

Here are some other news and notes from this week:

House adjourns

The House adjourned at midnight Monday as scheduled. A number of “smaller” bills were passed during the final days of session. 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.

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

This guidance is an insult to Minnesotans. The governor wounded businesses by forcing them to close their doors for months on end and now he is pouring on the salt with this announcement.

People I am hearing from are irate with the governor and say this is the last straw. I am right there with them because you could not run our state farther into the ditch unless you wanted to.

At best, the governor’s guidance is arbitrary, inconsistent and nonsensical. A hairdresser can accommodate 25 percent capacity, but a bar or restaurant is forbidden to let anyone inside. You can walk up and down the aisles at big box-stores all you want, but you better not be the 11thperson down the aisle at church or you won’t get in. And ceremonies to recognize the Class of 2020 are still banned, but at least you can go shopping at the state’s largest candy store to buy them a goodie bag.

The governor’s excessive restrictions on churches, limiting them to 10 people inside, is another glaring problem with his announcement and I hope he will reconsider his decision to leave them behind.

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.

Morrison receiving disaster assistance

The governor has announced Morrison County will be receiving State Public Disaster Assistance fund dollars to help recovery efforts from rain and heavy snow which caused a significant amount of public property damage in areas of the county March 29. A memo from the Minnesota Department of Public safety indicates the state will cover 75 percent of the $244,000 in damages (estimated $183,000).

Flexibility for charitable gambling organizations

I recently joined a number of House Republicans by sending a letter to Governor Walz asking for his help in affording Minnesota’s charitable gambling organizations any additional flexibility that could help them resume their fundraising efforts.

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 Memorial Day weekend, be safe and, as always, let me know how I can help.

Sincerely,

Shane

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