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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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Final Days of the 2020 Legislative Session

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Rep. Nelson


There’s only a few days left in the 2020 Legislative Session, with the Minnesota House constitutionally required to adjourn on Monday, May 18. My colleagues and I will be spending the weekend passing legislation off the House floor, and we’ll be focusing on bills that address the COVID-19 pandemic and deliver support and resources to Minnesotans.

More work remains to help Minnesota respond to COVID-19, which is why House Speaker Melissa Hortman announced the formation of a Select Committee on Minnesota’s Pandemic Response and Rebuilding to explore the pandemic’s impacts and address any issues that may arise. Though the legislature will be adjourned, it’s also possible that we’ll return later in the year in a special session to help with the pandemic response. 

With a busy few days ahead, here’s a recap of some of our recent work:



Wednesday night, Governor Tim Walz announced the current “Stay at Home” order will expire on May 18 and he’s “turning the dials” to gradually allow more businesses to open. Starting Monday, retailers will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity and small gatherings of 10 or fewer will be allowed to occur. The administration is also working with restaurants, bars, salons, and gyms to develop a way for those businesses to safely open as soon as June 1.


Before opening, non-critical sector business and retail establishments must have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in place to protect the health and safety of their workers, and businesses must follow CDC and OSHA guidance. More information about these requirements is available here. The governor has also issued an executive order protecting Minnesotans who are concerned about the safety of their work environment. It allows workers to raise concerns without fear of discrimination or retaliation and protects those who refuse to work under unsafe or unhealthy conditions.

Turning the Dials - May 13

The Walz administration will continue to keep an eye on indicators like the number of new cases, and it’s possible restrictions could be put back in place. Despite the governor’s new orders, we should all continue to take safety precautions like social distancing, wearing a mask, and staying home when sick. Additionally, people who may be vulnerable – like those with compromised immune systems – should continue to stay home. COVID-19 remains a public health threat to be taken seriously and we all have an important role to play in stopping the spread of this condition.


Holding Safe and Secure Elections

Minnesotans hold their right to vote in high regard, which is why we continually lead the nation in voter turnout. That’s also why I authored a bill that will better ensure when Minnesotans go to the polls this year, they will be able to cast their votes in a safe and secure manner.

Coming into 2020, we were well aware that we would have to take steps to ensure this year’s elections were secure from interference. Federal funds were allocated to Minnesota for this purpose, and in addition to improving accessibility and modernizing election security, funds were also made available to better ensure the health and safety of election officials and in-person voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


The Minnesota Secretary of State is making a new tool available for registered voters to request that their ballot be sent to them by mail for the August 11 statewide primary and/or the November 3 general election. You can request an absentee ballot here.


Delivering Economic Security

Last week, we passed a package of legislation that incorporates several important economic measures that my colleagues and I in the DFL House have been working on. COVID-19 hasn’t only brought new problems, it’s also built on the inequities that had already existed in our communities. The bill we passed in the House includes:

  • $100 million in assistance for Minnesota renters, homeowners, and landlords. In addition to support for rent and mortgages, qualified applicants can receive help paying utility bills and property taxes;

  • 15% temporary pay increase for Minnesota’s personal care assistants (PCA), who are serving Minnesotans with disabilities, our seniors, and other vulnerable populations. In addition to the increase, PCAs can now be paid for 310 hours of services per month, up from 275;

  • $15 million in a new Distance Learning Broadband Access Grant Program to provide students with the equipment necessary to access learning materials on the internet and reimburse school districts for costs to provide broadband access;

  • $55 million to the Small Business Emergency Loan Program at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), including specific funds for our smallest businesses and minority-owned businesses.


Stay Connected

Over the next few days, a great website to help stay in the loop is the House Public Information Webpage. You can read up on my bill to extend grants to those impacted by COVID-19, the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21, and our new ban on TCE - a cancer-causing chemical. 

For the latest news and up-to-date information, please visit the state’s COVID-19 Dashboard. The Minnesota House website also has a COVID-19 section with information and links to helpful resources. Please feel free to contact me at (651) 296-3751 or



Rep. Michael V. Nelson