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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cal Bahr (R)

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Friday, March 13, 2020


Friday, March 13, 2020                                                                  

We are a week away from the House cutoff for bills to make it to the final round of committees and possibly becoming law so it would normally be busy at the capitol. Still, as I am sure you know, the Corona Virus (COVID-19) has made this session anything but ordinary. There is already economic disruption as we wait for the full impact of the disease to make it to Minnesota. Legislative leaders met with the Governor, and there will be an attempt to pass bills that will get us across the finish line and out of St. Paul in record time. While I applaud the effort to prioritize legislation that isn't just partisan pandering, I am concerned that if we rush bills on to the floor, we will get a lot of bad laws that skipped the vetting process.  

I am also concerned that "emergency bills" that give the government more power and spend the surplus carelessly will pass because of the fear and hurry surrounding this crisis. Rest assured, I will oppose any permanent expansion of government power in the name of a temporary crisis. I will also oppose handing out your hard-earned money without accountability.  

On Thursday, in the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee, I argued against provisions in the expanding the Governor's power in a Peacetime Emergency emergency. Currently, after 30 days, the Governor is supposed to ask the Legislature for an extension. The bill author suggested that perhaps legislators might be afraid to come back after 30 days if the epidemic was still going on. Here is my response.  

Watch the video here.


What powers does the State Government Already Have? 

The state of Minnesota and the Governor already have broad powers to act in a public health emergency such as the one we are in. 

Minnesota Statutes

The Minnesota House and Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday that appropriates $20.8 million to be transferred from the general fund for public health response efforts to COVID-19. This bill was a bipartisan effort and was signed into law Tuesday by Governor Walz.

Today at 1 pm, Governor Tim Walz issued a peacetime state of emergency declaration for the State of Minnesota. You can view Executive Order 20-01 here:

 Minnesotans should follow CDC advice in order to prevent illness.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or hand sanitizer if not available
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow, not your hand
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
  • Stay home if you have cold or flu-like symptoms

The Minnesota Department of Health has set up a public COVID-19 hotline that is open from 8 am to 4:30 pm daily. If you have questions, you can call at 651-201-3920 or visit for information. 

 Coming up Next Week

 Next week we will hear bills fast-tracked by Legislative leaders and agreed upon with the Governor. They have short-circuited the usual process, so we will probably hear bills in committee on Monday that will be on the floor by Thursday. Use the links below to watch the proceedings at this unique moment in history. 


 If you'd like to get in touch, you can email me at or contact my Legislative Assistant Barbara at you can also call her at 651-297-1307. 

Watch the Minnesota House on Public TV

Video: Streaming Website. Also, you can watch committees and Floor Sessions on YouTube.