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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dean Urdahl (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, May 1, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

I hope you and your family are well and just want to pass along some legislative notes from this week, starting with the governor extending the stay-at-home order to May 18 instead of allowing it to expire as scheduled this Monday.

The governor’s extension does provide some new opportunities for retail businesses to open, with restrictions. The main change is that retail and other non-critical businesses may begin offering curbside pick-up. While allowing expanded curbside service to retailers may be a small step forward, this certainly was not the full extent of the news we were hoping to receive in terms of relief from the governor’s executive orders on businesses.

Many business owners in our state already have reached the breaking point and are permanently shutting down. Others are barely hanging on and cannot afford to be shut down any longer, especially as their large competitors have been allowed to remain open. Our smaller retailers should be shown the same level of trust and be able to open their doors as well, with plans in place to prioritize health concerns as they safely operate and protect their customers.

House Republicans are in constant contact with employees, employers, agencies, and the governor's office making real efforts to help Minnesota businesses safely reopen their doors. And, all House Republicans voted again earlier this week to allow the legislature to work with the governor on future actions to fight COVID-19 and let businesses safely reopen their doors so people can get back to work.

Unfortunately, that proposal once again was blocked and, until that pattern changes, the reality is the governor’s emergency powers will remain in place.

‘Elective’ surgeries

While there was news regarding some stay-at-home restrictions, we also were hoping for modifications of the executive order on elective medical procedures. Dozens of House and Senate Republicans sent a letter to Gov. Walz earlier this week, asking him to lift restrictions on health care providers. We apparently will have to wait a little longer for more on that important subject, but here is a way you can provide input:

The Minnesota Department of Health has assembled draft guidance that will help inform the next steps. Draft guidance will be available online through noon Saturday (May 2) to solicit feedback and input before final guidance is issued. The draft guidance and public comment survey can be accessed here.

Look for more as things develop in St. Paul. Stay healthy and, as always, let me know what I can do to help.

Action on processing plants

With the closure of multiple meat processing plants in Minnesota and across the Midwest halting production, a number of Republican state lawmakers sent a letter to President Trump urging immediate action to prevent major disruptions to our food supply, farm bankruptcies, job losses, and devastating impacts on rural economies that are already struggling. The president issued an order late Tuesday compelling plants to re-open. Here is more on that.

Take care, stay well and let me know if there is any way I can assist you.