Greetings and I hope your summer is going well. It is hard to believe, but we are reaching two months since the regular 2020 legislative session ended. Either time flies, or maybe it just feels like the Legislature never really adjourned since a special session took place last month, we are in the process of conducting another one now and it looks as if even more will follow. More on that in a minute, but first I want to touch on a couple of other items:
I mentioned we are 60 days removed from the end of the regular 2020 session. At that point, legislators are not permitted to send email newsletters such as this until after the November election. That said, I will continue working to represent the people of District 13A, whether it is at the Capitol or back here at home. It is important to keep those lines of communication open, so feel free to reach out to me individually through other electronic means such as email and on social media.
It also remains hugely important to me to continue meeting with people in our area face to face, of course with proper safety protocols place. For instance, on Wednesday of this week I attended a Boys and Girls Club Superintendents Summit in St. Cloud. Attendees and speakers were masked and safely distanced and we had a very productive discussion.
It was interesting to share thoughts on collaborative efforts between the Boys and Girls Club and area schools to deliver youth programming. Local CentraCare officials also provided great insight and were an important part of the conversation given our ongoing efforts to stay safe in today’s COVID-19 world.
The challenges are great in planning for an upcoming school year without knowing exactly what this fall will look like, yet it is comforting to know we have such competent people helping to do what is right and keep students and staff safe.
As for work at the Capitol, I noted a second special session in as many months is taking place. While subjects such as public safety reform, tax relief and a bonding bill to fund construction projects around the state remain in flux, it is clear a main reason (if not the reason) the governor called us back to the Capitol on July 13 is he wanted to extend his emergency powers by another 30 days.
The Legislature can vote to end his emergency powers and the Senate did that on Monday. But, for a fifth time, the House majority voted against such an effort on Tuesday and kept the governor’s powers in place.
I want to be clear this issue is about so much more than COVID-19. There is no question we need to take this seriously and especially do all we can to protect vulnerable citizens.
The question we need to ask is whether Minnesotans want one person – the governor – making unilateral decisions that have significant impacts on citizens for several months on end, or should all 201 legislators be participating in the process?
Minnesota was founded on a representative system of government, yet we now are entering a fifth month under one person’s rule. The governor declared a peacetime emergency in mid-March, with the intent of “flattening the curve” to buy time so hospitals could prepare and personal-protective equipment could be acquired, but now the objective is less clear. No explanation for what the off-ramp looks like has been provided.
The concerning thing is it doesn’t look like our constitutional rights and representative system of government will be returned to Minnesotans anytime soon. The governor does not appear willing to relinquish his power and the House majority is OK being excluded from the decision-making process.
For now, we can each do our part to keep ourselves safe and protect vulnerable people around us and hope brighter days are ahead.