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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sandy Layman (R)

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News From Representative Layman 5-22-2020

Friday, May 22, 2020

Dear Friends,

Monday is Memorial Day. While this year’s Memorial Day will be without many of the things we usually associate with this weekend—like camping—it is important to remember the reason for this holiday is to honor the men and women who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Please take a moment this weekend to remember all these brave Americans who have fought and died for our freedom.

End of the Pandemic Session of 2020

The 2020 legislative ended last Sunday at midnight. As it did for legislatures across the nation, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Minnesota legislature to forego much of our planned policy work for the session to respond to the coronavirus and provide relief for our farmers, businesses, and the unemployed.

Two bills I had hoped for – before the pandemic turned everything upside down – was a tax bill and a bonding bill.  Oftentimes the two are part of session-ending negotiations. I authored and co-authored several provisions to be included in the tax bill as well as the bonding bill and the failure to move these initiatives is disappointing.

So, in that environment, I was gratified to have legislation I authored be approved with just minutes left on the clock on the final night of session.

The bill simply allows the tip of Stony Point on Lake Pokegama to become part of Harris Township, which has been maintaining the area for the year-round and seasonal residents with homes on the point. The bill had passed through two committees before everything shut down in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the legislature went into recess. Retrieving the bill and getting it to the floor to be heard took the cooperation of many, on both sides of the aisle.

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Getting my bill passed just before Sine Die

Special Session on the Horizon

Because of Governor Walz’s forced business closures, the state is now facing a $2.4 billion budget deficit and the worst unemployment situation since the Great Depression. The legislature will have difficult decisions in the weeks and months ahead as we deal with this new economic reality and balance our state’s budget.

The Governor’s 30-day extension of emergency powers ends on June 12th so it is logical to assume he will call a special session at that time. It is our expectation there will be movement within the Democrat majority by that time to agree to begin transitioning from emergency powers and returning more oversight to the legislature. 

During the regular session, the Governor, the House, and the Senate all unveiled proposals for a bonding bill. Negotiating a compromise bonding bill would also be a priority during a special session. I will keep you posted as more information becomes available.

Additional Business Restrictions Eased

The state’s Stay at Home order expired this week. Beginning last Monday, retail stores, malls, and other main street businesses were able to reopen if they have a safety plan put in place that will help keep employees and customers safe. These stores are now able to operate at no more than 50 percent occupancy.

On Wednesday, the Governor announced additional steps restaurants, salons, and other public accommodations can take to reopen by June 1st.

Here is a brief rundown:

  • Restaurants: Outdoor service only, maximum of 50 customers, masks required, six feet distance.
  • Personal Services (salons, tattoos, barbershops): Six feet distance, maximum 25% of capacity, masks required.
  • Churches: Services of 10 people or less indoors and outdoors, drive-up services allowed.
  • Campgrounds: Open with guidance
  • Gyms, personal fitness, yoga: CLOSED
  • Entertainment (bowling, movie theaters, arcades): CLOSED

The sad reality is that many businesses simply can’t survive until June 1. It doesn’t make sense to allow hundreds of people in the aisles of big-box stores while limiting churches to 10 people, or that salons are allowed to reopen but restaurants are restricted to outdoor service. Minnesota businesses and churches expect fairness when following guidance and should be trusted to protect the health and safety of their patrons.

This latest announcement is just further proof that the Governor’s emergency powers must end so that he returns to working with the legislature. I have voted several times to end these emergency powers and will continue to support a return to regular, legislative order.

More information on the Governor’s latest announcement can be found here: https://bit.ly/36ldCxF  

Campgrounds to Reopen

I was pleased to see that campgrounds will be able to reopen on June 1st per the Governor’s announcement. Camping and the outdoors are incredibly important economic drivers for our area of the state, and it is good to see that so many of them will be able to reopen soon. While it appears that they will miss the Memorial Day weekend, this is nonetheless a step in the right direction.

Guidance on campgrounds can be found here: https://bit.ly/3bRTC75  

Veterans Virtual Career Fair

If you are a veteran looking for work, there is a Veterans Virtual Career Fair next Thursday, May 28, from 1pm-3pm. The career fair will focus on jobs in the healthcare industry, and is open to Veterans, transitioning service members, currently serving Reserve and National Guard, family members of Veterans, and caregivers of Veterans. To read more about this event and register here.

Stay in Touch

Now that the regular legislative session has ended, my email updates will be a little less frequent.  But don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your thoughts and suggestions.

I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4936 or via email at rep.sandy.layman@house.mn.

Have a great weekend,

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