Last week, the Governor announced an easing of restrictions. Here is a summary of the easing of restrictions that went into effect March 15th:
- Social gatherings: Up to 50 people outdoors or 15 people for indoor gatherings, both without household limits.
- Youth sports: Pod size increasing to 50 for outdoor activities.
- Religious services: Remove occupancy limit, but social distancing required.
- Celebrations: Follow venue guidance.
- Bars and restaurants: Increasing allowable occupancy to 75%, up from 50%, with a limit of 250 people. The limits apply separately indoors and outdoors. Bar seating increases to parties of 4.
- Salons/barbers: Removing the occupancy limit, but social distancing is required.
- Gyms/fitness centers/pools: Increasing allowable occupancy to 50%, up from 25%. Outdoor classes can increase to 50 people.
- Entertainment venues: Increasing allowable occupancy to 50%, up from 25%, both indoors and outdoors, with a limit of 250.
As more Minnesotans are vaccinated, work from home will no longer be required – but it will continue to be strongly recommended – beginning April 15. All employers should continue to accommodate employees who wish to work from home.
This is a step in the right direction, but it’s clear that the “emergency” is over. States across the nation, blue and red alike, are beginning to reopen in the latest sign that the pandemic is winding down.
Now, we should move into the management and recovery phase. To effectively do that, the legislature needs to be on equal footing with the Governor and the emergency powers must end.
We’re now just past the halfway mark of the 2021 legislative session, and it’s setting up to be the least productive in modern history. Through the first ten weeks of session, the House has passed just five bills, the fewest at this point in session since at least 1995 — as far back as records are available on the House website.
As Democrats continue to be paralyzed, House Republicans are moving forward with the business of governing as best we can while in the minority. This included forcing votes on four bills on the House floor this week on issues that are broadly bipartisan and time-sensitive.
These bills included:
- The SAFE Account, which sets aside $35 million for mutual aid agreements for anticipated law enforcement response for the Chavin trial and other major public safety events. That bill has been stalled since the House DFL proposal failed twice weeks ago on the House floor. House Republicans have put forward a compromise proposal that was endorsed by the Star Tribune Editorial Board.
- Exempting forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan income from state taxes. Currently, Minnesota is the only state in the upper Midwest that has yet to exempt forgiven PPP loan payments. Without action, businesses could owe hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in state income taxes simply for using the PPP funds as intended by the federal government. The Senate passed a PPP tax relief bill last week with a veto-proof majority on a 55-12 vote.
- Exempting $10,200 in Unemployment Insurance income, the same exempted by the federal government.
- Funding for schools to offer in-person summer school programming. This bill would utilize the expected funds coming in from the federal government to help defray the cost of in-person summer school learning to help students catch up from a year of distance learning, along with funding for student mental health, as well as early learning scholarships.
Unfortunately, all four of these bipartisan, commonsense, and time-sensitive bills failed to pass. We need to get to work and not let these priorities get caught of in end-of-session shenanigans. Minnesotans cannot afford to wait any longer.
Staying in Touch
Please continue to reach out to me to share your questions, thoughts, or concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4293 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,