Congratulations to ROCORI Spartans football player Camdyn Bauer for recently being named to the Minnesota Vikings All-State Team for 2020. Way to go, Camdyn!
As for legislative news, the 2021 session began this week. As a COVID-19 precaution, Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony was conducted with many House members participating remotely from their legislative offices instead of in the chamber as is tradition.
While I look forward to the day we can fully return to face-to-face, in-person business at the Capitol (of course, along with everywhere else), I’m happy to be getting back to work in a full session where we can give important issues the attention they deserve – particularly as we navigate the challenges of safely re-opening our businesses and getting our kids back in school.
House committees are just beginning to meet and I have been selected to serve on Early Childhood Finance and Policy, Education Finance, and Health Finance & Policy. The committees related to early childhood and education suit me especially well and are going to be major points of emphasis this session. The state’s woeful achievement gap and the learning loss that has been compounded by a lack of classroom time are significant issues that need to be addressed and I look forward to working on these committees.
This week there also was some movement on the restrictions Gov. Tim Walz has placed on our state. The changes he announced to his executive orders include 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.
Churches remain open at 50 percent capacity, but without a cap on the maximum. 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.
It is good to see the governor is loosening some of his restrictions, but we still have a lot of work to do in fully re-opening our state. And, while the restrictions placed on our businesses have been well-documented, I also have been receiving significant feedback from families concerned about the mandate on masks being worn in youth/high school sports.
On Wednesday, I co-signed a letter to the governor asking him to reconsider this order and align our state with recommendations from the Center of Disease Control and the World Health Organization. The letter reads, in part:
“Guidance provided by Center of Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and other leading research institutions agree that face coverings during youth sporting events pose a potential health risk to participants and may cause more harm than the intended good.
“The World Health Organization states ‘children should not wear a mask when playing sports or doing physical activity, such as running, jumping or playing on the playground so that it doesn’t compromise their breathing.’ Wearing a mask that covers a child’s nose and mouth during high intensity exercise could lead to fainting, hyperventilation, or vomiting. The Center for Disease Control explains, saying that all ‘people engaged in high intensity training activities, like running, may not be able to wear a mask if it causes difficulty breathing.’”
I hope our message is well-received by the governor and urge him to honor this common-sense request to heed recommendations from the experts.
Watch for more news from St. Paul as we make our way through the 2021 session. I am excited to be back representing the people of District 13A and, as always, your correspondence is much appreciated.