We wrapped up our long floor discussions of the omnibus budget bills this week. The final bill we took up was Health and Human Services. While that bill was long on ways to drive up the cost of healthcare and create new regulations, there was little discussion of COVID-19. I introduced a few commonsense amendments to address the pandemic, which I’ll discuss below. But first, a look at how another state is faring during COVID with fewer restrictions. The results probably won’t surprise you.
You read that correctly. The Governor of Tennessee announced on Tuesday that COVID is no longer a health emergency in his state. Their lockdowns have been less strict than ours and only 25% of their population is fully vaccinated. This all begs the question: why is Minnesota still operating like its March 2020?
We are now over a year into this pandemic. A year ago, we had no idea what we are dealing with. Today we understand the disease, who it threatens, and how to mitigate risks. We know so much and yet our kids are still masked in school and we still think COVID comes out at 11pm forcing our businesses to close.
If Minnesota was truly following the science, Gov. Walz would announce tomorrow that we are lifting all capacity and operating restrictions on businesses. The vaccine is widely available to anyone who wants one, so it is time to start living our lives again. As more and more states open up, Minnesota is wrongly continuing its power grab when there is no longer an emergency.
Even though the House DFL is content to allow Gov. Walz to keep running the COVID show, my colleagues and I are ready to reclaim our constitutional duty to govern as a co-equal branch of government. Shockingly, the DFL’s Health and Human Services bill had very few COVID provisions. I offered COVID-related amendments to the bill which (unsurprisingly) were not warmly received.
One of my amendments would have required an audit of all COVID deaths. I have heard stories from many people about viewing the death certificates of a loved one and the cause of death was wrongly attributed to COVID. There is a big difference between someone dying with COVID as opposed to someone dying from COVID.
Unfortunately, the DFL weakened my proposal by accepting an amendment to my amendment. Now MDH is allowed, instead of required, to contract with a third party to review the measures the state took to prevent and control the spread of COVID. There is nothing related to the deaths!
I find it disgusting that the DFL has little interest in performing our duty to provide oversight of the executive branch. This state is not ruled by one man. We must learn more about how decisions were made to shutdown our state and impact so many lives.
Other amendments offered by my colleagues, Representatives Albright and Lucero, would codify in law that Minnesota will not require a vaccine passport. President Biden and Gov. Walz have both said that they are not interested in requiring a COVID passport, but the House DFL included a provision in the Health and Human Services bill to perform a study on it.
COVID passports cannot be required in Minnesota. We are in danger of creating a two-tiered society, separating the vaccinated from those deemed not safe to be around. Never before have we been nosy about each other’s vaccination status. Now is not the time to adopt that practice.
And folks, in case you didn’t know, you don’t need to show proof of vaccination to breathe outdoors. Go ahead and take off your mask as you enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend.