It’s good to be back in session after the 92nd Legislature performed the oath of office at the Capitol this week.
I look forward to continuing doing my best to represent the people of District 18A and enter the session optimistic the Legislature can accomplish what is needed to meet the needs of Minnesotans. In addition to continuing in my role as lead Republican on the House Capital Investment Division, I have accepted assignments with the Education Policy and Legacy committees for this biennium.
Most of the work at this point in the session focuses on getting new committees up and running and authoring bills to be submitted for consideration. I will take a closer look at these subjects in upcoming emails but, as you may expect, I will continue working to mitigate the crisis of civics knowledge that is occurring in our society. More on that another time.
Another headline from this week is Gov. Tim Walz provided a moderate easing of restrictions he has placed on our state. The changes include:
- Indoor dining at bars and restaurants can open at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 150 people. Parties of no more than six people must remain six feet from other parties; bar seating is open to parties of two; reservations are required; and establishments must close dine-in service by 10 p.m.
- Gym capacity remains capped at 25 percent but maximum capacity increases to 150 and classes can increase to 25 people, assuming distancing can be observed. Machines and people must maintain 9 feet of distance. Face coverings are required.
- Outdoor events and entertainment continue at 25 percent capacity, but maximum capacity increases to 250 people. Social distancing is required.
- Indoor events and entertainment – like bowling alleys, movie theaters, and museums – may open at 25 percent, with no more than 150 people in each area of the venue. Face coverings are required, and they may not offer food service after 10 p.m.
- Youth and adult organized sports have resumed practice as of January 4 and games resume January 14 with spectators, following the appropriate capacity limits for indoor or outdoor venues. Inter-region tournaments and out of state play are discouraged.
- Pools opened on January 4 for some activity and may now open, like gyms, at 25 percent capacity.
- 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. Any related ceremony – like a wedding or funeral ceremony – is guided by rules for ceremonies and places of worship.
- Places of worship remain open at 50% capacity but without an overall maximum capacity.
- These changes are for the better, but I am concerned they might not be enough for some of our suffering businesses and workers. I look forward to the day our state is more fully re-opened and hope it happens soon with COVID-19 numbers dropping and vaccines being issued.
I also would like the governor to consider easing his mandate on youth athletes wearing masks. Earlier this week, I co-signed a letter asking him to revisit the subject and follow recommendations from the CDC and WHO. 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.’”
Until next time, have a good weekend and let me know how I can help.