The 2021 legislative session began Tuesday and it’s good to be back. Being sworn into the House of Representatives comes with a sense of gratitude to District 15B residents and an obligation to continue doing my very best representing the people of this area in particular and Minnesotans in general.
The return of the Legislature also underscores the importance of restoring balance at the Capitol after our state has lived under the governor’s unilateral rule for the last 10 months. Minnesota workers and businesses have been hammered by the governor’s iron-fisted control and we need to get serious about safely re-opening our state.
You would think the Legislature’s return to session would be the perfect time for the governor to stop masquerading as King of Minnesota, put his emergency powers to rest and welcome the state’s 134 legislators to participate in the decision-making process.
You would think.
Instead, what did the governor do? He is keeping his sole authority in place and threw Minnesotans some crumbs on Wednesday: Hither peasants, enjoy some “easing” of restrictions I’ve placed upon thee.
The “highlights” of changes the governor made to his unilateral mandates include allowing indoor dining at bars and restaurants, up to 50-percent capacity or a maximum of 150 people. Other changes expand capacity for gyms and allow indoor events and entertainment facilities such as bowling alleys and movie theaters to re-open at 25 percent. Youth sports (which began practice this week) may resume games 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.
The governor’s mandates also, once again, include inconsistencies and a number of head-scratchers, such as: “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.”
Bottom line is it’s good the door to re-opening our state was cracked slightly open and I am happy for our business owners who may benefit from this. But essentially returning to where we were before the holidays can’t be viewed as a major advancement and comes nowhere near what’s needed for businesses to dig out of the hole the governor put them in.
The COVID-19 numbers are coming down. Vaccines are being rolled out. For the 1,000th time, I say let’s end the governor’s emergency powers, safely re-open our state so people can get back to work, and restore the Legislature as the co-equal branch of government that it is.
Stay tuned and stay in touch.