We’re in the final weekend of the legislative session, and according to the state constitution, today is the last day we can pass bills in the regular session. We will keep working to reach agreements on important priorities like economic security for Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental protections, and a robust jobs and local projects bill. Social distancing standards have limited attendance on the House Floor, and I’ve been participating in House Floor sessions remotely from my office.
Reps. Ruth Richardson, Hunter Cantrell and I recently hosted a virtual town hall to give community members an opportunity to share how COVID-19 has impacted the disability community. We were grateful to have over 100 people participate, and we appreciate everyone’s time and helpful comments. We look forward to collaborating on solutions to build a state that works for everyone.
Here’s an update on some recent developments.
Tomorrow, as the governor’s Stay at Home order expires, retail establishments will be able to open at 50 percent capacity and gatherings of 10 or fewer will be allowed. In order to open, businesses must have a COVID-19 preparedness plan in place, and they must follow CDC and OSHA guidance. More information about these requirements is available here. The governor empowered workers under an executive order explicitly permitting them to raise concerns regarding the safety of their work environments without fear of retaliation. It also protects workers from loss of income if they refuse to work under unsafe or unhealthy conditions. When possible, Minnesotans should continue to work from home.
Friday, fellow legislators and I walked over to Bethesda Hospital, a designated COVID-19 care facility, to share our thanks with the staff who are working under grueling circumstances. One staff member exiting the parking ramp told us she cries every day when she leaves. We all have a significant responsibility in slowing the spread of the virus and must continue practicing social distancing, staying home when sick, and wearing a mask in public to protect others. As more things open up in the state, please be safe to protect each other and those who care for us. Learn more about the Stay Safe MN plan here.
While our focus remains on protecting the health, safety, and economic security of Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers continue to work on other important measures, too. This past week, Governor Walz signed three of my bills into law, including one to modernize our state’s guardianship statute, which was included in our Civil Law Omnibus bill. The legislation will reduce unnecessary guardianships and conservatorships, promote less restrictive alternatives such as supported decision making, update the guardianship bill of rights, and protect the privacy of Minnesotans subject to guardianship. This photo is from the House Judiciary Committee earlier this session when a young woman whose family utilizes supported decision making, instead of guardianship, testified how this model makes her feel empowered.
Session Daily covered the legislation back in March.
As part of this legislation, the governor also signed my bill modernizing the Uniform to Minors Act (UTMA) statute which allows money owed or given to a minor to be placed in a custodial account. The Judiciary Omnibus bill, which the governor also signed, contained a provision I authored to remove restrictions on the types of cases the Minnesota Court of Appeals can designate as a published decision.
The House recently approved a package of legislation aimed at enhancing the safety and security of this year’s elections. Part of this solution include funding for an increase in absentee voting, and last week, Secretary of State Steve Simon announced that Minnesota voters can now request an absentee ballot for both the August 11 statewide primary and the November 3 general election. There’s no safer way to vote than from the safety and comfort of your own home.
Request your absentee ballot here on this online tool. The online application will ask for an e-mail address and an identification number, either a Minnesota-issued driver's license, Minnesota ID card, or last 4 digits of Social Security Number. You can check your voter registration status online. You can also register or update your voter registration online.
Continue to visit the state’s COVID-19 Dashboard for the latest accurate, up-to-date information about the pandemic as well as our state’s response. Also, the Minnesota House website’s COVID-19 section has information about legislative actions to date, as well as links to helpful resources. If I can be helpful, please call me at 651-296-0141 or email me. Also, if you don’t already, I invite you to “like” or “follow” my Facebook page.
Please take care of yourself and your family, and let’s all keep taking all the responsible steps to move past this pandemic.