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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Matt Bliss (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, January 08, 2021

Dear Neighbor,

It’s nice to be back in the House of Representatives after Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol in St. Paul. I’m happy the session is underway and I look forward to serving District 5A once again, working to do my best in representing the people from this area. 

I have been selected to serve on three House committees for the upcoming biennium: Industrial Education and Economic Development Finance & Policy; Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance & Policy; and Housing Finance & Policy.

Industrial education is critically important because we need to focus more on skilled trades to fill a worker shortage and give our younger people job options that don’t necessarily involve attending a four-year program. And veterans always have been my top focus in the Legislature so I am pleased to be on that committee advocating for them.

Committees are just coming together and informational hearings will take place to get everyone oriented. I will pass along information regarding the issues we are facing as things get rolling.

In other news, Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday announced he was loosening some of the unilateral restrictions he has placed on businesses, including allowing indoor dining at bars and restaurants, up to 50-percent capacity or a maximum of 150 people. Other changes were made to expand capacity for gyms and to allow indoor events and entertainment facilities such as bowling alleys and movie theaters to re-open at 25 percent.

Also, youth sports resumed practice on Monday and games may resume Jan.14 with spectators allowed, following the appropriate capacity limits for indoor or outdoor venues. Churches remain open at 50 percent capacity, but without a cap on the maximum.

I guess this is some progress and workers who have been under immense restrictions have at least some breathing room, but it’s not enough. And the arbitrary and inconsistent nature of the governor’s executive orders continues to be a source of concern.

For example, wedding receptions and other private parties may resume with limits. If food and drink are served at the event, then they are limited to two households or 10 people indoors and 3 households or 15 people outdoors. If there is no food or drink, they are covered by event venue guidelines.

So, to get this straight: A stand-alone wedding comes with one set of restrictions but slap some chicken Kiev and cheesy potatoes on a plate and a whole different set of rules applies. Does this make any common sense?

Just another reason it’s a bad idea to have one person calling all the shots without the benefit of legislative involvement in the process so good questions may be asked, and we could avoid some of the problems and confusion the governor is causing by going at it alone. 

The governor has been ruling through executive order for around 10 months now, issuing more than 100 executive orders in that time, and it is long past time to put that to rest and restore the Legislature as the third co-equal branch that it is.

I’ll have more on these and other issues over the coming weeks and months. For now, I want to reiterate how honored I am to be back in the House and, as always, your input is welcome. 

Sincerely, 

Matt 

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