Greetings and I hope this message finds you in good health. The House conducted a session on Tuesday to address proposals related to COVID-19, to establish an insulin affordability program and to help get Minnesota’s economy back on track.
Before we get to that, I want to do a quick shout-out to a wonderful local business, Stang Precision in Paynesville. They have converted their business and are making face masks in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Check the current edition of the Paynesville Press for more!
As for legislative news, here is a quick rundown of what took place Tuesday:
The House approved the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, designed to make insulin more affordable for Minnesotans, ensuring that insulin is available in emergency situations. This bill also makes certain that insulin affordability programs will remain in place and provides life-saving assistance for those in emergency situations.
Resolution on executive orders
Concerns are growing in regard to executive orders issued by Gov. Tim Walz that are causing increased economic stress for Minnesotans. House Republicans put forward a resolution aimed at easing the governor’s Peacetime Emergency Declaration restrictions, while also keeping in place important measures to protect veterans, small businesses and law enforcement as the state’s COVID-19 response continues.
I want to make it abundantly clear that our top priority remains protecting the health and safety of Minnesotans. We also need to begin the process of safely reopening Minnesota’s economy because people need to earn a living. The governor’s own modeling suggests we can take responsible steps to start getting Minnesotans back to work while continuing social distancing efforts and protecting vulnerable Minnesotans, without the economic devastation of there more weeks (or more) of a Stay-At-Home order. We should let that data be our guide so we can work on a balanced solution that prioritizes health and safety while also allowing us to avoid a sustained economic shutdown.
The resolution we put forward, and I voted to approve, would help us accomplish that goal but, unfortunately, it was blocked on a party-line vote. Specifically, the proposal sought to end the peacetime emergency declared by Walz in Executive Orders 20-01 and the subsequent extension included in Executive Order 20-35, while keeping in place Executive Orders aimed at protecting Minnesota veterans, small businesses, and law enforcement. The resolution kept in place statutory provisions contingent on the peacetime emergency and urged the public to continue physical distancing measures while taking measures to protect those most vulnerable to the virus until the outbreak has subsided.
A package more directly related to COVID-19 was approved on Tuesday, the latest round of steps the Legislature has taken to ensure Minnesotans are protected during the pandemic. This bill included a variety of largely technical moves to help struggling farmers, extend deadlines, allow greater use of remote participation for public bodies such as city counties and allowing people to apply for marriage licenses online. This bill also implements provisions of the federal CARES Act, including coverage of COVID-19 testing as part of our ongoing response to the pandemic.
Stay well and, as always, your input on these issues and others always is welcome.