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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

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Legislative Update - March 13, 2020

Friday, March 13, 2020

Rep. Howard

Dear Neighbors,

Much of our efforts this week have gone towards ensuring Minnesota is properly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Things are evolving quickly. I want to give you an update on our work at the legislature, as well as information from Minnesota’s Department of Health about ways we can all work together to prevent the spread of the virus and keep our communities safe. 

Today, Governor Walz declared a peacetime state of emergency, emphasizing the need to deploy community mitigation strategies (canceling large events, avoiding crowds and travel, keeping substantial space between you and others). These recommendations don’t mean that healthy Minnesotans should bar themselves from leaving their home, rather that practical measures should be taken to prevent the contraction and spread of COVID-19. Most importantly, the Minnesota Department of Health is recommending that if you are sick, to please stay home.

Governor Walz also recommended a series of legislative proposals to better prepare our health care system and provide relief to the Minnesotans that need it, which you can view here. My colleagues and I will be reviewing these and other proposals to help Minnesotans weather this epidemic. Some recent legislation proposed by the Minnesota House include:

  • Requiring health plans to cover all costs of testing, treatment, and quarantine related to COVID-19.
  • Banning price gouging of necessary goods and services during an emergency.
  • Compensating hourly school workers for days canceled or missed due to COVID-19.
  • Establishing a loan account for health care providers.
  • Expanding unemployment insurance and sick leave benefits during times of emergency.


In addition, I am working on legislation to address the potential housing instability/homelessness that may result from families who are unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned for more details – we will introduce legislation on Monday.

The Minnesota House, Senate, and Governor’s Office remain in constant contact with MDH, and as the situation progresses I want to echo the directions of public health officials and ask our community to frequently wash their hands, cover coughs and sneezes, stay home when they are sick, and stay informed. MDH’s website is a great source of accurate, up-to-date information, and a public hotline (651-201-3920) will be open 7am-7pm daily to answer your questions.

Minnesota is fortunate to have a strong public health sector and world-class health providers working around the clock, and we can each do our part by making smart, healthy decisions. These are uncertain and challenging times. From a state government perspective, it’s important that we be transparent and responsive about our work to keep the public safe. I will continue to update you on our work and other important information as soon as it becomes available.

In the meantime, let's wash our hands and be kind to one another.



Michael Howard