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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, April 17, 2020
Rep. Swedzinski speaks on the House floor

That's me, speaking on the House floor during a legislative session today. Below are more details.

Dear Neighbor,

The health and safety of our citizens remains our top priority.

Meantime, the ever-growing list of executive orders Gov. Tim Walz has issued in response to the COVID-19 outbreak is becoming a concern for many Minnesotans who say his unilateral decisions are causing them enormous financial economic stress and also are undermining the very foundation of our representative government.

House Republicans offered a resolution on Tuesday in an effort to strike a reasonable balance by easing the governor’s Peacetime Emergency Declaration restrictions to relieve some of that burden people are feeling, while also keeping in place important measures to protect citizens and keep public health and safety the priority it needs to be as the state’s COVID-19 response continues.

The crux of the issue is that, while we all share the common goal of protecting the health and safety of Minnesotans, also need to move Minnesota’s economy forward by allowing people to work and earn a living. Businesses and families are suffering major financial damage and we need to start working on solutions so people can get back to work. 

A Minnesota Department of Health report (see page 12) 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. Yet, the governor chose to order "Scenario 4” and extended the Stay at Home order by four weeks for all, even though it certainly will 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.

The resolution we put forward would have provided a more common-sense, balanced approach, but it unfortunately was blocked on a party-line vote. Despite that disappointment, the governor did issue what appears to be a good one in terms of re-opening our economy ever so slightly. Executive Order 20-38 allows Minnesotans to engage in a range of activities, including golfing, boating, fishing, hunting, and hiking, as long as they follow new outdoor recreation guidelines. These guidelines include maintaining 6-foot social distancing, avoiding crowded areas, and staying close to home.

Under Executive Order 20-38, facilities that may reopen or remain open include:

  • Bait shops for live bait
  • Outdoor shooting ranges and game farms
  • Public and private parks and trails
  • Golf courses and driving ranges
  • Boating and off-highway vehicle services, including:
    • Marina services
    • Dock installation and other lake services
    • Boat and off-highway vehicle sales and repair, by appointment only

Campgrounds and dispersed camping, outdoor recreational equipment retail stores, recreational equipment rental, charter boats, launches, and guided fishing remain closed.

Minnesotans should continue to take part in outdoor activities close to their primary residence. Staying home helps protect Minnesotans from spreading COVID-19 and limits pressure on rural medical facilities and essential supplies. 

These new provisions will go into effect on Saturday, April 18 at 5:00 am, and will have the full force and effect of law upon approval by the Executive Council.

Friday session

Today, the House approved a bill allowing bars and restaurants to sell beer and wine to go during this time they are under take-out only restrictions. It’s one small, simple thing that can bring added sales to businesses that are suffering under governor’s shutdown order. I made a point of rising to speak in support of our business people as this bill was being discussed and you can click here for that quick video.

I will be back with more from the House soon. Until next time, stay healthy, and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.