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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cal Bahr (R)

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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

In his final speech to the Constitutional Convention at age 81, Benjamin Franklin cautioned, "…when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views." Of course, the premise provided was optimistically based on the idea that the collective agreement process would mitigate the extremes that could arise from a single authoritarian "ruler."

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 Pandemic has highlighted a Constitutional crisis for Minnesotans in which we are now being directed, for the most part, by Executive Order instead of the legislative process. The legislation being presented, has not had the usual rigor of committee review, public input, or even Legislative debate. I have been challenging my colleagues to hold true to our ideals and I extend the same challenge to my constituents. Now, more than ever, Minnesotans need to be engaged in their government. You can be smart, proactive and engaged in your community while still protecting the health of those most vulnerable. However, when Liberty is not exercised, it is lost. Now, more than ever, we need to be listening to every word from our elected leadership and hold them accountable to the Constitution they vowed to uphold.

I have received numerous questions from constituents looking for direction on what is or is not included in the various Executive Orders and what it means for them. My staff will continue to look at each situation individually to address those needs where possible. But I have seen our community rally together in ways that prove we are able to meet these needs and "government" is standing in the way.

HF 4537: Workers Compensation

Tuesday, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted to establish workers compensation benefits for first-responders during the COVID-19 outbreak. HF 4537 will give benefits to police officers, firefighters, healthcare workers, childcare workers, and many others if they suffer an injury due to the contraction of the corona virus in the course of their duties. Additionally, if one of these workers passes away due to the corona virus, this bill will give benefits to the family of that individual.

I agreed with the premise, but not the product presented. Who wouldn’t agree with the premise? Many of these people are being asked to take extraordinary risks. It sounds great at face value but is yet another failure of a hurried and emotion-driven process. I could not support this bill as written - and I was not alone - because the language lacked basic controls on who would be able to collect these benefits and who would be excluded. A positive test result is not required to attain benefits. Anyone, in any of the covered categories, who had symptoms resembling COVID-19, and was claiming benefits could not be denied.

This legislation is a recipe for fraud. Would everyone applying be a fraudster? Absolutely not. Was everyone participating in CCAP a fraudster? Same - no. But without some basic controls to prevent bad actors from outright stealing from the public treasury, I would be remiss in my duty to safeguard those funds. Many of these workers are employees of cities, towns, and counties. The costs of covering the benefits of those individuals will go directly to the budgets of those local governments, which are funded with property taxes. A crisis cannot be an excuse for bad policy because it is rare that the government “fixes itself” and Minnesotans deserve better.

Executive Order 20-09: Elective Procedures

Additionally, I delivered a letter to Governor Walz requesting he re-examine the directive he issued two weeks ago prohibiting "elective procedures" in order to preserve necessary medical equipment and staff. Unfortunately, the unintended consequence has been empty hospitals, health care staff being laid off because they have no patients and no revenue to fund their employment and patients in need of life-altering care who are on hold until possibly too late to treat them properly.

My colleagues in the New House Republican Caucus joined me in asking that he provide additional instruction that would allow providers greater discretion in treatment for more time-critical preventative and follow-up care where possible. This is necessary to prevent patients who could have been treated in a timely manner in a doctors office from being forced into emergency room care when their condition is much more critical.

Faith Leaders Left Without Direction

With the Easter Holiday approaching, pastors and churches state-wide are scrambling to find alternative means to minister to their congregations. Unfortunately, our questions to the Administration on what they expect during this Shelter-at-Home order have been met with equivocations and stonewalling. While churches every where have already been figuring out how to worship together in this new restricted environment, the Governor's staff doesn't "know how that would work."

For all of you celebrating Easter with your congregations, I pray for a blessed and safe Holy Day as you continue to provide the ingenuity lacking in a top down, one-size-fits-all world.

Coming up Next Week

More Committees are meeting remotely and will be assembling additional legislation when we come back in Session on the 14th of April. It is uncertain what that language will look like or what actions will be taken as the Governor's initial 30 day period closes on the 13th - we think.

Our caucus released this statement before the State of the State address and remind ourselves often of these ideals as we go forward: A Free People in a Pandemic is still a Free People.

I encourage all of you to watch and participate where you can because this is our Republic - if we can keep it.

Choose Freedom,


Cal Bahr
State Representative, 31B


If you have any questions regarding COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to contact me or my office. We are still attempting to provide regular contact remotely so if you have other needs, please email my Legislative Assistant, Barbara, at

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