Greetings, everyone. I wanted you to know about some of the news here in St. Paul.
The Legislative Process
The 2021 regular session of the Minnesota Legislature is nearly over. All legislative business is supposed to be finished by May 17th. However, we still have a lot of work to do before then.
Currently, both the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate have passed massive omnibus bills. These omnibus bills will determine how much money is spent in our next two-year budget cycle. However, there are differences between the omnibus bills passed by the House and the omnibus bills passed by the Senate. These differences must be resolved by conference committees.
Conference committees are bipartisan groups of legislators that work out the differences that exist between the House and Senate versions of a bill. Each conference committee has five members of the House and five members of the Senate. Once these committees have finished their work, the Senate and House vote on the finalized omnibus bills. If passed, these bills are then sent to the governor for his signature.
This may seem like a simple process, but there is a lot of work that goes into every stage. If we fail to get these omnibus bills passed by May 17th, then we will have a special legislative session to finish the work.
The Omnibus Health and Human Services Bill
Nearly two weeks ago, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the omnibus health and human services bill. This legislation, known as HF 2128, was full of new mandates that will only raise the cost of healthcare. HF 2128 also spends billions of dollars and includes a large amount of new spending that was not in prior budgets. The Democrats have been attempting to spend record amounts of money throughout the entire legislative session.
I voted against HF 2128 because I do not want more government mandates on business. Throughout this last year, businesses have been crushed by Governor Walz’s executive orders. The expensive government mandates in HF 2128 will only add to the many problems that businesses are facing. More regulations and mandates will only hurt businesses and make healthcare more expensive.
Governor Walz and State Restrictions
This week Governor Tim Walz unveiled his plan to end pandemic restrictions. According to his three-step plan, almost all pandemic restrictions will be lifted by May 28th.
The specifics of Governor Walz’s plan are below. This information is directly from a press release that was published by the Office of the Governor:
“Step one takes place at noon on May 7. It includes initial steps to relax some restrictions, primarily in outdoor settings.
- Removes limits for outdoor dining, events, and other get-togethers, and ends the mask requirement outdoors except at large venues with over 500 people.
- Eliminates the state-established mandatory closing time for bars, restaurants, and food and beverage service at other places of public accommodation.
The second step begins on May 28. Remaining capacity and distancing limits will come to an end, including for indoor events and gatherings. The requirements that will remain include:
- Face coverings indoors and for outdoor events that exceed 500 people.
- There will be no new safety requirements for businesses, though they must maintain their plans to keep their employees and customers safe – as they have from the beginning of the pandemic – guided only by a minimal universal state guidance document.
The third step takes place once 70 percent of Minnesotans age 16 years and older – 3,087,404 Minnesotans – get at least one dose of the vaccine, but no later than July 1.
- The remaining face covering requirement and the requirement for preparedness plans will end. Work on vaccines will continue, and local jurisdictions and entities may set their own mask policies.”
For months I have been saying that people need to be allowed to live their lives. Apparently, Governor Walz is only now realizing the same. However, that does not change the fact that his mandates robbed Minnesotans of their freedom for over a year. To be clear, I am glad that our state will be returning to normal, but we all must recognize the harm that this governor has done to Minnesota.
Governor Walz employed dictatorial mandates to fight this pandemic. He could have worked collaboratively with the Minnesota Legislature and developed a reasonable, constitutional plan to deal with the pandemic, but he did not. Instead, Governor Walz used sweeping mandates that ruined livelihoods and destroyed businesses. This should not have happened.
My full thoughts on the governor’s decision are in the video below: