MN Government Updates 08.19

Senate Republican Caucus Press Conference

Today, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) held a press conference in response to the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s decision to appeal the Public Utilities Commission’s approval of the Enbridge Energy’s plan to replace the Line 3 crude oil pipeline.

“Enbridge has dedicated the resources and time to create the safest replacement line that will also provide much needed jobs to benefit the community. They have demonstrated their ability to meet the highest expectations time and time again, only to have another layer of government delay the project. It’s bad enough Greater Minnesota is still shut down from COVID emergency orders, now Governor Walz is slowing down high paying jobs and safer energy for Minnesotans, at a time when we need them most,” said Gazelka.

During the press conference today, Gazelka said that Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley would be asked about this decision during his upcoming Senate Commerce Committee confirmation hearing on Friday. Gazelka told reporters that he had told Governor Walz a few months ago that that he believed two commissioners were not doing their job – Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Nancy Leppink and Kelley. Leppink was ultimately not confirmed by the Senate last week.

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 Department of Health Briefing

This afternoon, officials with the Minnesota Department of Health conducted a press briefing with reporters to update the public on the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm reported 567 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number COVID-19 cases to 66,618.
  • Yesterday, around 12,100 COVID-19 tests were processed.
  • The median age for a COVID-19 case is 36-years-old.
  • There were 17 additional fatalities due to COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of COVID-19 deaths to 1,738.
  • Nine of the 17 deaths were residents of long-term care facilities.
  • This is the highest single-day death total since June 19.
  • Currently, 321 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19 with 152 of those in the ICU.
  • The hospitalization rate increased by 17.
  • The ICE bed use rate decreased by two.

Dr. Ruth Lynfield, State Epidemiologist

  • Dr. Lynfield urged students to plan to avoid settings likely to have a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission – such as crowded bars and house parties. Instead, she urged students to stay at home and interact with the people they live with for 14 days before returning to campus.
  • Because of a desire by parents to have children back to in-class learning, Dr. Lynfield also discouraged parents from making the decision against having their child tested for COVID-19 when they have symptoms. According to Dr. Lynfield, some parents have made this decision because a child testing positive for COVID-19 will impact the ability of the school to provide in-person learning.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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