MN Government Updates 06.08

Senate DFL Press Conference

Today, members of the Senate DFL Caucus held a press conference to discuss issues they would like to see on the agenda for the June special session, which is likely to take place on Friday.

Senator Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis)

  • Senator Hayden would like for Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) to join efforts by Senate Democrats to pass criminal justice reform legislation during the June special session.
  • He believes that an urgent response is warranted based on the desire by those who took part in demonstrations and to prevent any other negative incidents between law enforcement and people of color.

Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury)

  • Senator Kent echoed Senator Hayden’s call for an urgent response to criminal justice reform during the June special session.
  • She argued that such legislation is necessary and is urgent – just as when the legislature has come into special session to respond to natural disasters in communities.
  • When asked if the state has a role in the future of the Minneapolis Police Department, Senator Kent said the criminal justice system is failing minority communities and needs fundamental change, but she is not aware of any legislative suggestions to abolish the police. She said the legislature has historically stayed out of that.
  • When asked about a bonding bill, Senator Kent said negotiations are ongoing. She hopes to have a bipartisan bonding bill with a very strong vote by all four caucuses.
  • When asked if a second bonding bill may be required to address needs in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Senator Kent responded that those two cities are still assessing where things stand and what the needs are to be addressed. She said that a two-phase approach for bonding may be needed where a robust bonding bill is passed now and then the legislature can come back and look at potentially another bill moving forward.

For reference, passing a bonding bill requires a three-fifths (60%) vote in support in each chamber:

  • With Republicans holding 35 of 67 Senate seats, at least six votes are needed from DFL members to pass a bonding bill in the Senate.
  • With the DFL holding 75 of 134 House seats, at least six votes are needed from Republican members to pass a bonding bill in the House.

Minnesota Department of Health Briefing

This afternoon, officials from the Minnesota Department of Health conducted a press briefing with reporters to update on public on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm announced that Minnesota now has 28,224 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is up 338 cases over yesterday, but it also represents a number of days of decline in case increases.
  • There were 11 more deaths yesterday. Of the 11 deaths, seven were residents of congregate care facilities. The state total number of COVID-19 deaths is 1,197.
  • Currently, 452 patients are in the hospital with 198 of those patients in the ICU. This is the fifth straight day of decreasing numbers in the ICU. ICU capacity is now at the same level as it was in mid-May.
  • Commissioner Malcolm outlined the department’s guidance on sports.
  • oThere is different guidance for specific sports since each sport carries a varying level of risk depending on how close people are to each other, whether there is contact, and whether equipment is shared.
  • oDetailed guidance can be found on the Department of Health’s website.
  • When asked about whether late July is when the department will issue guidance to schools about resuming in-class learning, the commissioner responded that the Department of Health is working closely with the Department of Education and consulting school districts on their planning and creating multiple scenarios for the new school year. She said that the department is not a position yet to know if positive trends relating to the virus (infections, hospitalizations, ICU capacity) will continue and that continued scenario planning is the department’s best advice to schools at the moment.

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

  • Director Ehresmann announced that the Department of Health made changes on Friday to data on the state’s COVID-19 website relating to testing.

oPreviously, testing had been reported on a person-level, but some people were tested more than once.

oNow, the website shows total tests done since mid-March. The data reflects situations where individuals may be tested more than once. This is a more accurate way to track testing.

  • When asked whether warmer weather has contributed to the lowering number of hospitalizations, Director Ehresmann responded that there isn’t good data yet about how the virus will behave for seasonality since there hasn’t been a full year of exposure to the virus. 

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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