MN Government Updates 05.14

Walz Signs Executive Order on Summer Learning

Today, Governor Tim Walz signed Executive Order 20-57, authorizing and directing the Commissioner of Education to provide a safe and effective summer learning environment for Minnesota’s students. Minnesota’s public school districts and charter schools will have the option to offer summer learning through a hybrid model of distance learning and in-school learning, or to continue distance learning.

Executive Order 20-57 will offer schools the flexibility for some in-person instruction if they are in compliance with Department of Health (MDH) guidelines on masking, social distancing, personal hygiene, screening, and cleaning, and adhere to MDH’s guidance for summer programs. The public health guidance will help schools keep their students, their families, and school staff safe and healthy while offering meaningful learning opportunities. This model will give schools an opportunity to better support the students who have been struggling with distance learning, especially traditionally underserved students. These public health guidelines will also apply to summer programing outside of a school setting.

Department of Health Briefing

Today, officials with the Department of Health held a conference call with reporters to update the public on state efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm

  • Commissioner Malcolm announced the state has 520 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the state total to 13,435.
  • There have been an additional 25 deaths due to COVID-19. Of the 25 deaths, 21 were residents of long-term care facilities. This brings the state total to 663.
  • Currently, 498 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19 with 203 of those in the ICU.
  • Over 6,700 COVID-19 tests were processed yesterday. This is the highest single day of testing.

Director Kris Ehresmann, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division

  • Director Ehresmann announced the Department of Health has reached an internal milestone of conducting 650 case interviews in a single day.
  • She also announced the state is now ramping up testing in long-term care facilities.

Dr. Ruth Lynfield, State Epidemiologist

  • Dr. Lynfield announced that the state is expecting its third shipment of remdesivir tomorrow.
    • It will be enough to treat 145 individuals for a 10-day course and potentially more individuals if they are on a five-day course.
    • The department expects to get remdesivir shipments on a weekly basis each week for the next four weeks.
  • New changes are being made to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard relating to dial-back measures. These measures will be used by the governor to decide to dial back any re-opening steps the state has taken. There are four major indicators that will be used to assess whether the virus spread is getting too worrisome and needs some changed response:
    • The proportion of tests that are positive – 15% or more on average over seven days or going up a certain percentage is of concern.
    • PCR testing capacity – if it drops below 5,000 for a certain number of days.
    • The case doubling time – the number of days for new cases to double. The threshold of concern is around five days. Currently, the state is at nine days.
    • Community spread without known contacts – gives a sense for how widespread transmission is in Minnesota.

Director Joe Kelly, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division

  • Director Kelly announced that Governor Walz has activated 20 soldiers and airmen from the Minnesota National Guard to perform collection of COVID-19 test samples.
  • About 120 National Guard members are on duty for COVID-19 related response.

Legislative Activity for May 14, 2020

Today, the Minnesota Senate convened for a floor session and passed eight bills:

  • Senate File 3808, authored by Senator Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), is the omnibus public pension bill. It passed 67-0.
  • Senate File 3683, authored by Senator Paul Anderson (R-Plymouth), is the Office of Higher Education policy bill. It passed 67-0.
  • Senate File 3745, authored by Senator Justin Eichorn (R-Grand Rapids), provides that if the Itasca Board of County Commissioners determines that there are not 20 or more legal voters residing in a territory, the county board may add the territory to Harris Township if the township board adopts a resolution requesting this action. The bill passed 67-0.
  • Senate File 3258, authored by Senator Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), makes changes to various public safety laws including provisions related drones flying over prisons and youth intervention program grants. The bill passed 67-0.
  • House File 4285 (the omnibus agriculture policy bill), authored in the Senate by Senator Bill Weber (R-Luverne), modifies state seed and noxious laws, as well as laws governing perishable farm product buyers, state loan programs, meat and poultry inspections, farm safety, grain buyers, emerging farmers, hemp, agricultural education, and pet food. The bill passed 67-0 in the Senate. It previously passed 132-1 in the House. It now goes to the governor for his signature.
  • House File 627, authored in the Senate by Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria), would require the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Board to develop a model policy for eyewitness identification that is consistent with certain National Academies of Science recommendations, and further require law enforcement agencies to adopt policies that are substantially similar to the model. The bill passed 67-0. It previously passed 133-1 in the House. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.
  • House File 4429, authored in the Senate by Senator Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake), makes various changes to the pay-for-performance job training standards. It creates a Minnesota-specific name for the federally-defined displaced homemaker programs. The bill passed 67-0. It previously passed 132-2 in the House. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.
  • House File 4605, authored in the Senate by Senator Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), authorizes counties, cities, and townships to accept documents and signatures electronically, by mail, or facsimile during a peacetime public health emergency. The bill passed 67-0. It previously passed 134-0 in the House. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.

The Senate will return for a floor session at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. The Minnesota House also convened for a floor session and passed one bill:

  • Senate File 3358, authored in the House by Representative Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee), exempts 16 and 17 year olds from the prohibition on minors operating amusement rides. It also specifies that the minimum age for ride operators is 16 years of age. The bill passed 126-5. It previously passed 65-2 in the Senate. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.

The House will return for a floor session at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
100 Washington Avenue S | Suite 2200 | Minneapolis MN 55401

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