This legislative session, like in many of our lives, we had to quickly adapt at the onset of the virus in our state. I’m proud my colleagues and I came together in a bipartisan fashion to deliver the immediate and necessary resources for our public health professionals to prepare for COVID-19, as well as an initial package of legislation delivering resources for health care workers, aid for child care, housing and food security measures, small business assistance and more. We also worked quickly to ensure frontline first responders receive workers’ compensation benefits if they contract COVID-19.
In addition to our COVID-related legislation, we also passed the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, a bipartisan bill to protect the safety and security of elections, and legislation I co-authored like the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, and the Tobacco 21 legislation to prevent youth smoking. My consumer protection and money transmission modernization bill also passed through the MN Senate unanimously and through the House 132-1. While I’m proud of the work we were able to accomplish during these unprecedented circumstances, we still have work to do.
Usually at this point in the legislative calendar, my colleagues and I would be done for the year. But for multiple reasons, there’s been a lot of talk about a potential June special session. First, Governor Walz has announced that he will seek legislative approval to extend the peacetime state of emergency. The current iteration of the state of emergency expires on June 12.
Additionally, with low interest rates and a dire need to stimulate Minnesota’s economy, conversations continue on a potential Jobs and Local Projects (or Bonding) Bill. This is one of many bills aimed at delivering economic security and resources to Minnesotans being discussed. While there’s a lot of uncertainty on what the future holds, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.
Stay Safe Minnesota
Minnesota’s “Stay at Home” order expired this past Monday, replaced with a new one allowing for more flexibility for our businesses to reopen as they meet public health parameters. The new “Stay Safe” order allows Minnesotans to gather in groups of 10 people or less with retail stores able to open at 50% capacity with public health guidelines. The Governor’s “Stay Safe” order also includes important protections for workers concerned about returning to work safely. It allows workers to raise concerns without fear of retaliation from their employers. Guidance for businesses and employees is available here.
Governor Walz also announced this week that bars and restaurants would be able to open patios and other forms of outdoor service at reduced capacity starting on June 1. Salons and barbershops will be able to reopen and operate at 25 percent occupancy. All customers will be strongly encouraged or required to wear masks, make reservations, and follow social distancing practices to keep themselves, other customers, and employees safe. You can find more information about the various phases of the Stay Safe Plan here.