ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House on Tuesday conducted a session to address separate proposals to further combat COVID-19, establish an insulin affordability program and help get Minnesota’s economy back on track.
Amid concerns executive orders issued by Gov. Tim Walz are causing extreme 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.
“Public health is our top concern and this resolution was balanced, crafted in a way that we could keep health and safety as a top priority while also opening up our economy so people can get back to work,” Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, said. “I am receiving call after call from workers in our area asking that we do something to ease the burden that has placed on them. At the same time, data provided by the U of M shows that, by protecting the vulnerable and continuing to observe social distancing, we can begin the process of bringing our economy back. Let’s allow that data to be our guide so we can work on a balanced solution which allows us to avoid an even longer economic shutdown while, at the same time, tamping down health-related issues.”
The measure was blocked on a party-line vote. Specifically, it 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 similar measure brought by other lawmakers was also addressed Tuesday but failed to secure the votes necessary to earn a recorded vote.
A COVID-19 package 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.
The House also on Tuesday approved a bill 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.