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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Legislative notes

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

Here is some COVID-19 news from the state level, where yesterday the Legislature approved a bill to further our response to the virus and earlier this week Gov. Tim Walz issued a “Stay at Home” order, effective at 11:59 p.m. today.

Over the past week, the four legislative caucuses worked together to negotiate a variety of provisions for the bill we approved related to the COVID-19 pandemic. House Republicans successfully advocated for multiple sunsets, reporting requirements, and other accountability measures. Earlier this month, the legislature approved $221 million in funding to assist with COVID-19 preparation and response. 

I would like to highlight that the bill we passed yesterday helps farmers by expanding eligible uses for the RFA Disaster Recovery Loan Program and the Highly Pathogenic Animal Disease Emergency accounts to include COVID-19. This will allow farmers facing tough circumstances due to COVID-19 to access already appropriated funds designed to help in times of crisis on the farm. The bill also creates an exemption in the Commercial Applicator licensing for people who will be sanitizing and disinfecting spaces in response to COVID-19. Without this exemption, a person who was recently hired to disinfect a building in response to COVID-19 would be required to carry a license and undergo training.

The big thing in general is that we came together and got important work done for Minnesotans. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring in the fight to combat COVID-19, but we do know families and businesses in our state are struggling. 

We need to be strategic in how we move forward so our business and household economies can be strong, not only for the immediate weeks and months, but for the long haul. Solutions come from the private sector, not necessarily from government. Let’s make sure we listen to the people who are directly impacted by this outbreak so we can respond accordingly.

Click this link for more details on the bill which passed the House 99-4 Thursday.

Stay at Home executive order

As for the Stay at Home executive order, so many constituents have been asking important questions that it is challenging to answer each directly or as quickly as I would like. While I may take some time to respond to these questions, here is an overview and some available resources:

Current closures for bars, restaurants, and other public accommodations under previous executive orders have been extended until May 1 and distance learning for schools was extended until May 4.

The Stay at Home order will limit movement outside homes beyond essential trips for two weeks, effective at 11:59 p.m. today until Friday, April 10. Click here for the full order. And here is a site with general FAQs related to Minnesota’s Stay at Home order.

The order allows Minnesotans to leave their residences only to perform any of the following activities and while doing so they should practice social distancing: Health/safety activities, outdoor activities, purchasing necessary supplies and services like groceries and medicine, essential and interstate travel, care of others, displacement, relocation to ensure safety. This is not a comprehensive list.

Workers who provide critical services are exempt for the purposes of traveling to their jobs. This list includes: Healthcare and public health; law enforcement, public safety, and first responders; child care, food, and agriculture, news media, energy, water and wastewater, critical manufacturing. 

This, again, is not a comprehensive list, and Minnesotans should visit this link for additional guidance. 

If your business is currently considered non-essential and you would like to request an exemption from the "Stay at Home" order, please submit a request to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development here. And this link provides information from DEED regarding the Emergency Loan Program for Minnesota Small businesses that recently was created.

Most all of us are feeling added strain during this uncertain time. Please know that legislators at the state and federal level are working together to provide assistance to families and businesses.

Please reach out to me if you have questions or if I can assist you in any way. I will keep you posted as further legislative action is considered. Until next time, please be safe and stay healthy.