MN Government Updates 06.12

Legislature Convenes for Special Session

Both chambers of the legislature convened at 12:00 p.m. today for the special legislative session.

Minnesota Senate

The Senate immediately took up a Senate Concurrent Resolution 1, which terminates the governor’s peacetime emergency powers. The resolution passed 38-29.

This morning, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) said he plans for the Senate to conclude this special session on Friday, June 19.

Minnesota House

  • The House took up House File 5, which provides $62.5 million for emergency small business grants and loans. The bill passed 129-5.
  • The House took up House File 37, which protects tax exemptions for certain types of solid waste management, provide extensions for Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund recipients, and increase access to wildlife management areas. The bill passed 127-7.
  • The House took up House File 65, which establishes fees for replacement license plates and amends design requirements for enhanced driver’s licenses and identification cards. The bill passed 133-1.
  • The House took up House Concurrent Resolution 2, which terminates the governor’s peacetime emergency powers. The resolution failed 61-73.

While House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) indicated this morning strong disagreement with concluding the special session next Friday as the Senate is doing, she said that the House may have to conclude on that day as well since bills must pass both chambers. However, work on various legislative issues will continue whether the legislature is formally in special session or not.

Tomorrow, the Minnesota House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Division is scheduled to hold an eight-hour hearing on police accountability measures. The hearing begins at noon.

Minnesota Department of Health Briefing

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

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm announced an additional 490 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the state’s total to 29,795 cases of COVID-19.
  • There were an additional 25 deaths. This brings the state COVID-19 death total to 1,274.
  • Currently, 403 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19 with 191 in the ICU.
  • The total number of people hospitalized is almost 200 people less than the high point in hospitalizations about two weeks ago.
  • There are about 70 fewer people in the ICU than the high point about two weeks ago.
  • Around 13,400 COVID-19 tests were processed yesterday. The positivity rate was 3.7%.
  • The four community testing sites that were set up in Minneapolis and St. Paul following demonstrations have early testing numbers.
  • There was a 1.4% positivity rate with 1,327 COVID-19 tests conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • More testing information on this front is still forthcoming.
  • When asked if the state is prepared for a second wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations based on medical capacity and based on whether diligence will remain among Minnesotans to continue social distancing, Commissioner Malcolm responded that there is “no question in my mind that we are better prepared” on medical capacity but acknowledged that “mitigation fatigue” is occurring among individuals.

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

  • Director Ehresmann noted that the Department of Health is hearing a lot of concerns about the lack of ability for individuals to visit loved ones in long-term care facilities. The department has established a working group to find a balance for allowing visits while keeping the coronavirus out of facilities.
  • As planning occurs, the department is looking at guidance from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control based on spread in the community, status of the facility, access of the facility to adequate staffing and testing, source control for personal protective equipment for staff, and local hospital capacity.
  • According to Director Ehresmann, the state has made significant progress in preventing further spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.

The growth in the number of new facilities having an outbreak has slowed significantly from 23 per day to five per day.

Of the total outbreak facilities in the state (912), 57% have only had one or two cases. Of those facilities, 52% are no longer experiencing an active outbreak.

There has been a decline in cases and deaths in recent weeks as well.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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