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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL)

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Release: Minnesota House of Representatives working in new ways to address pandemic and economic hardships

Friday, March 20, 2020

 

St. Paul, Minnesota — Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives are temporarily working from outside the Minnesota State Capitol. In conformity with Minnesota Department of Health guidelines, State Representatives are engaging in telework rather than in-person work at the State Capitol. Legislators in the Minnesota House of Representatives are convening informal working groups to discuss measures to assist Minnesotans coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and its related disruptions.

 

“The members of the Minnesota House of Representatives are working hard on behalf of the people of Minnesota during this crisis,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “While we follow the guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health to keep people safe, we are convening informal working groups to discuss emergency measures related to COVID-19 and to the mission-critical work of the Legislature this session. We are working to develop opportunities for members of the public to weigh in and offer their feedback in a way that is protective of their health.”

 

Minnesotans’ input is still a vital part of the legislative process. Members of the public are encouraged to stay in touch with their State Representatives during the pandemic through email, phone, virtual town halls and public briefings, legislator newsletters, House committee listservs, and House Public Information

 

 

“In this time of an unprecedented public health emergency, we know that Governor Walz will need to move fast and make use of executive orders to protect Minnesotans. In many cases, it is not currently practical for Minnesotans to have to wait for the normal legislative process in order for action to be taken which protects their health and welfare,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “In some cases, action cannot be taken by executive order, and in other cases the Legislature may be able to assist the executive branch by preparing legislation or by contributing work product for use in the executive order process. As Speaker, my priority is ensuring the safety of our members, our staff, and the public at this time, while we work to address Minnesotans’ needs.”

 

 

State Representatives are working on a number of measures, including:

 

  • Ensuring hourly workers and contract workers at our schools get paid
  • Ensuring workers have paid time off for COVID-19-related illness or business closure
  • Licensing extensions and flexibility for businesses
  • Preventing evictions and foreclosures during the pandemic
  • Forgiveness for expired driver’s licenses
  • Giving the DHS Commissioner temporary authority to keep our long term care and disability services up and running
  • Child care provider support
  • Local jobs and projects bill
  • Abatement of penalties for late income and property tax filings

 

The Legislature recently passed — and Governor Walz signed into law — funding for emergency health care preparedness and response:

 

  • Initial $21 million for the Public Health Response Contingency Account
  • Additional $50 million for the Public Health Response Contingency Account
  • $150 million in grant funding for our health care providers for costs related to planning, preparing, and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak

 

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