On Wednesday, Governor Walz outlined the next steps in Minnesota’s response to COVID-19. On May 18, the stay at home order will expire and be replaced by a new “stay safe” order. Family and friends will be able to gather in groups of 10 or less while maintaining social distancing, and retail stores and main street businesses will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity once they create a safety plan. The Walz Administration will work with restaurants, bars, salons, and gyms to create a plan that allows these venues to open as soon as June 1.
The stay safe order incudes protections for Minnesotans who are concerned about the safety of their work environments. It allows employees to raise concerns without fear of discrimination or retaliation and protects those who refuse to work under unsafe or unhealthy conditions. Workers and businesses can find guidance here.
Governor Walz is taking cautious steps toward reopening our state, but the threat of COVID-19 remains. We all have a responsibility to each other to maintain social distancing and follow public health guidelines. Those who have the ability to stay home should continue to do so whenever possible. Please continue keeping a safe distance from others and wearing a mask in public.
Preventing Youth Tobacco Use
Minnesota has been a leader at curbing youth tobacco use and access to tobacco, and we have seen incredible results. Unfortunately, we’re starting to lose ground to Big Tobacco. Over the weekend, my colleagues and I passed legislation to raise the tobacco sales age from 18 to 21. The bill, which received bipartisan support, will help prevent youth tobacco use and keep children and young adults healthy. Many cities, including Minnetonka and Plymouth, have already adopted Tobacco 21 laws, but this policy will apply statewide. You can read more about the Tobacco 21 bill here.
Addressing Rising Prescription Drug Prices
All Minnesotans deserve access to the prescription medication they need to survive and thrive. On Saturday, we passed the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, a bill that requires drug manufacturers to report pricing information for drugs with prices that exceed certain thresholds or increase by a certain percentage over a 12- of 24-month period. The Minnesota Department of Health will post the information on a public website in an easily accessible and clear format. This legislation, which Governor Walz signed into law on Tuesday, is an important first step in driving down the cost of health care. You can learn more here.
Advancing Clean Energy Initiatives
On Monday, we passed the Energy Conservation and Optimization (ECO) Act. This bipartisan bill asks utilities to devote more resources to energy efficiency and allows companies to move towards cleaner energy sources. These changes would help Minnesotans save money on their energy bills, create jobs, and stimulate the economy. More information about the ECO Act is available here.
The Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn in two days. My colleagues and I are working hard to ensure Minnesota has the resources needed to weather the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic challenges it has created. If you’d like to stay informed during the final days of session, please check out the live videos, daily news, and other resources provided here by House Public Information Services.
Please continue sharing questions, feedback, and suggestions. You can reach me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-9934.