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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe McDonald (R)

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Thursday, April 16, 2020


The COVID-19 outbreak remains front and center in our daily lives. As your State Representative, I am responding to as many of the social media posts, emails, texts and phone calls as possible to communicate with constituents.

Among the messages I am hearing most these days is that we must open up Minnesota and get back to work before it’s too late. People are asking and, in some cases, begging us to tell the governor to allow them to be open for business. Sadly, for some, it already is too late.

On the other hand, I also occasionally hear from some who are fearing for their health and believe the governor should stay firm with the Stay at Home order.

As you can see, opinions vary widely on what our approach should be, but here’s the deal: It doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. In fact, on Tuesday of this week, House Republicans offered a resolution aimed at easing the governor’s Peacetime Emergency Declaration restrictions to get us moving again, while also keeping in place important measures to protect veterans, small businesses and law enforcement as the state’s COVID-19 response continues.

We all share the common goal of keeping the health and safety of Minnesotans as the top priority. At the same time, the governor’s own data shows that we can begin the process of bringing our economy back and still uphold public safety by protecting the vulnerable and continuing to observe social distancing.

MDH graphic

Above, a slide provided by the Minnesota Department of Health shows no difference in the mortality rate and ICU demand between a long-term Stay at Home order for our most vulnerable citizens and extending the Stay at Home order for four more weeks for all. (The yellow circle was added by me for clarity.) The governor chose to order "Scenario 4” and extended the Stay at Home order by four weeks for all, even though it will surely cause significantly more damage to our economy and keep people from earning a living without, as MDH shows, a benefit in the mortality rate or easing of the ICU demand.

We should let that data drive our decisions on establishing balanced solutions. The resolution we put forward would help us accomplish that goal but, unfortunately, it was voted down by the majority.

Specifically, our resolution 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.

COVID-19 legislation 

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.

Insulin package

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.

Another House session is scheduled for Friday and one bill on the agenda would allow bars and restaurants to serve beer and wine to go along with take-out orders. I support this as a way to help our local businesses increase sales.

Stay in touch and, as always, let me know if there is anything I can do to help.



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