MN Government Updates 08.12

Legislature Convenes for Special Session

Both chambers of the legislature convened today for the third special session of 2020.

Minnesota Senate

The Senate passed:

  • Senate File 1, authored by Senator Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), which appropriates more than $30 million for grants to disability service providers. The bill passed 67-0.
  • Senate File 14, authored by Senator Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), which provides guidance to courts on sentencing veterans for criminal offenses related to a service-related disorder. The bill passed 66-0.
  • House File 2, authored in the Senate by Senator Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), which makes technical fixes to the Minnesota Police Accountability Act. The bill passed 61-6.

Members of the Senate also debated Senate Concurrent Resolution 1, which terminates the governor’s peacetime emergency powers. The resolution passed 36-31.

Additionally, the Senate took up the confirmation of Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Nancy Leppink. The Senate voted 32-34 to not confirm Commissioner Leppink. While commissioners and top officials of the state’s various departments are appointed by the governor, they are subject to confirmation by the Senate. Once appointed, commissioners can serve without any action by the Senate, but they cannot serve any longer if the Senate has voted to refuse to consent to their appointment. If a cabinet official is confirmed, he or she can serve to the end of the governor’s term (at the discretion of the governor).

Minnesota House

The House passed:

  • Senate File 1, authored in the House by Representative Hunter Cantrell (DFL-Savage), which appropriates more than $30 million for grants to disability service providers. The bill passed 129-1.
  • House File 2, authored by Representative Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul), which makes technical fixes to the Minnesota Police Accountability Act. The bill passed 121-10.

Members of the Minnesota House debated a motion to suspend the rules to take up House Concurrent Resolution 1, which terminates the governor’s peacetime emergency powers. The motion to suspend the rules to take up the resolution failed 61-79 as it did not receive the required two-thirds support (90 votes) to prevail.

Both chambers adjourned sine die this afternoon. It is expected that Governor Walz will call the legislature back into session in September.

Walz Signs Executive Orders on COVID-19, Extending Peacetime Emergency

Governor Tim Walz today signed Executive Order 20-83, extending the COVID-19 peacetime emergency that gives the state flexibility in responding to rapidly-evolving issues stemming from COVID-19.

The President’s COVID-19 national emergency remains in effect, and states of emergency are in place in all 50 states. Minnesota’s peacetime emergency protects Minnesotans against evictions and wage garnishment; provides expedited procurement power for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other equipment; allows Minnesota to re-open society strategically, while following the advice of public health experts; protects workers from unsafe worker conditions; requires Minnesotans to wear a face covering in certain settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19; and provides economic relief and stability to those impacted by the pandemic. If the peacetime emergency were to end, it would jeopardize over $50 million each month in federal funding.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present an unprecedented and rapidly evolving challenge to our state. These executive orders helped us build hospital capacity, secure critical care and personal protective equipment for healthcare providers and launch an aggressive testing strategy,” said Governor Tim Walz. “While these actions have slowed the spread of the virus and saved lives, it is important for us to assess the continued need for existing executive orders and rescind executive orders that are no longer necessary.”

Also today, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-84, rescinding Emergency Executive Orders 20-15, 20-16, and 20-32 and amending Emergency Executive Order 20-23.

Executive Order 20-15 directed the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to fund the Small Business Emergency Loan Program. All funds from the program have been distributed. As such, Executive Order 20-15 is no longer necessary.

Executive Order 20-16 directed non-hospital entities to take inventory of their personal protective equipment (PPE) and submit this information to the state. Because the deadline for the inventory has passed and inventories have been submitted, Executive Order 20-16 is no longer necessary. Executive Order 20-23 authorized Minnesota health-related licensing boards to modify licensure requirements during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency and implement dispensing limitations related to the medicines chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The limitations related to chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are no longer necessary and that part of the Executive Order can be rescinded while the other provisions related to health licensing boards remain intact.

Finally, Executive Order 20-32 permitted the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to delay, waive, or modify a number of health-related statutory and regulatory requirements for healthcare facilities. Executive Order 20-32 also gave MDH flexibility in carrying out its other regulatory activities and in administering state-funded grants to meet the needs of responding to the pandemic. MDH worked collaboratively with the Legislature to codify these important changes. Due to this codification, Executive Order 20-32 is no longer necessary.

Walz Announces New Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget

Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today announced the appointment of Jim Schowalter as the incoming Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB).

Schowalter previously served as MMB commissioner in Governor Mark Dayton’s administration and helped resolve a $6.2 billion state budget deficit. Schowalter also served as the State Budget Director under Governor Tim Pawlenty. Schowalter’s appointment follows the departure of Commissioner Myron Frans, who has been appointed senior vice president of finance and operations at the University of Minnesota.

“We are incredibly grateful for Commissioner Frans’ service to our state. Because of his leadership, Minnesota is in a stronger position to weather the fiscal consequences of this pandemic, and we wish him well in his new position,” said Governor Walz. “At a critical time for our state, Jim Schowalter will bring extensive experience and a proven track record of effective governance. I look forward to working together to balance our budget while continuing to invest in the services and programs that make Minnesota a great place to live.”

“Budgets are moral documents. Building a moral budget requires compassion, imagination, and a commitment to the most vulnerable among us. Commissioner Myron Frans has been an invaluable partner in this mission,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. “To fill his shoes in these unprecedented times, we need someone who can hit the ground running. Jim Schowalter is that person.”

“It has been my honor to serve the people of Minnesota for 10 years. I have worked for tax reform, pension reform, sound fiscal management, and supporting equity in the workplace. I am proud of the incredible changes we made to improve state services and to help create more opportunities for all Minnesotans. Thank you for this opportunity, this was the job of a lifetime,” said Frans.

“I am thrilled at the opportunity to return to Minnesota Management and Budget to continue Minnesota’s tradition of smart financial and personnel leadership,” said Schowalter. “I’m ready to dive in with Governor Walz, Lt. Governor Flanagan, the Legislature, and our partners to develop a budget that addresses our current situation and delivers the critical services that Minnesotans depend on.”

Jim Schowalter has expertise in public finance, health care, and management. Having served as commissioner of MMB and state budget director, he has extensive budget and policy experience. As a key advisor on fiscal issues to Governor Mark Dayton, Schowalter led efforts to resolve the record $6.2 billion deficit through an unprecedented state government shutdown. In later years, he recommended changes in budget reserve policy that eventually led to an improved credit rating and provided stability during economic downturns.

Most recently, Schowalter served as Senior Vice President responsible for partnerships and agreements with care providers at HealthPartners. Previously, he served as President and CEO at the Minnesota Council of Health Plans as the state’s nonprofit health insurers adjusted to the Affordable Care Act. Earlier in his career, Schowalter was responsible for the state’s health care exchange team and state employee programs at MMB.

Schowalter received his master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and his bachelor’s degree with a major in economics from Macalester College. He and his wife, Stephanie, live in Eagan and have two children.

MMB serves the people of Minnesota by providing the state with leadership and guidance to support efficient and effective government, a world class workforce, and responsible financial management. The MMB commissioner is the state’s chief financial officer, chief accounting officer, state controller, chief human resource officer, and in charge of employee insurance for over 50,000 state employees and collective bargaining on behalf of the state.

Walz Names New Leader of the Minnesota National Guard

Today, Governor Tim Walz announced his appointment of Brigadier General Shawn Manke to serve as Minnesota’s next Adjutant General, filling the vacancy created upon the resignation of Major General Jon A. Jensen, who was recently promoted to Lieutenant General. Jensen assumed his new role as Director of the Army National Guard at a ceremony on August 10.

“In recent months, the Minnesota National Guard has been called to serve our state in unprecedented ways, and we are grateful for General Jensen’s service and steady leadership,” said Governor Walz. “Having served in the Minnesota National Guard for 24 years before becoming Governor, I know General Manke’s experience commanding Soldiers, concern for National Guard members’ well-being, and dedication to public service have prepared him to be an effective Adjutant General. I look forward to working with General Manke to serve the people of Minnesota.”

General Manke, a native of Cambridge, Minnesota, has served in a number of leadership roles in the Minnesota National Guard since 2003. Manke currently serves as the Assistant Division Commander of the 34th Infantry Division based in Rosemount, Minnesota, providing training and readiness oversight for ten National Guard brigades with more than 23,000 Soldiers across Minnesota and eight other states. General Manke also recently served as Chief of Staff at the Joint Force Headquarters, where he was an advisor to the Adjutant General. Prior to that, he served as the Commander of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade (now known as the 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade) leading nearly 1,300 Minnesota Soldiers, and approximately 3,000 Soldiers total. Since joining the Minnesota National Guard, Manke has also served in overseas deployments to Kosovo and Iraq. 

“It is a true honor to be named as Minnesota’s next Adjutant General,” said General Manke. “The Minnesota National Guard is a tremendous organization, and I am humbled and eager to lead the great Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in service to the State of Minnesota, and the United States of America.”

Prior to his service in the Minnesota National Guard, General Manke had a career in the United States Army, being commissioned as an Army aviator in 1991 and serving overseas with the C Company, 6-159th Aviation Regiment in Pirinclik, Turkey, northern Iraq, and in Giebelstadt, Germany. Manke’s military service also includes service at Ft. Rucker, Alabama and Ft. Hood, Texas, before coming back to Minnesota to join the Minnesota National Guard in 2003. He lives in Cambridge with his wife Mary, a teacher. They have two children, Kalie and Lucas, who both serve as Lieutenants in the United States Army.

As the Minnesota National Guard continues to support missions abroad, they have also been mobilized for domestic missions here in Minnesota. Since March, hundreds of guardsmen have served in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing logistics, planning, and transportation missions, as well as assisting with the state’s testing response. In recent months, thousands of members of the Minnesota National Guard were mobilized in response to the civil unrest following the tragic death of George Floyd.

The Governor is the Commander-in-Chief of the Minnesota National Guard, and the Adjutant General serves for a term of seven years and is appointed by the Governor. The Adjutant General is a member of the Governor’s cabinet and head of the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs, and is the top commander of the Minnesota Air and Army National Guard Forces.

Minnesota 2020 Primary Results

The state government relations team at Lockridge Grindal Nauen has provided a summary of yesterday’s primary election. Click here to read about the results of various primaries across the state of Minnesota.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
LOCKRIDGE GRINDAL NAUEN P.L.L.P.
100 Washington Avenue S | Suite 2200 | Minneapolis MN  55401

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