MN Government Updates 06.18

Walz and DFL Leadership Press Conference

This morning, Governor Tim Walz and DFL legislative leaders held a press conference to urge Senate Republicans to take up and pass the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus police reform and accountability bills. The governor referred to the police accountability measures passed by Senate Republicans late Tuesday/early Wednesday as “weak sauce” and wants to sign the POCI Caucus-sponsored bills on Friday.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said that Senate Republicans have created an arbitrary and unnecessary deadline to adjourn by Friday that is making it more difficult to reach a deal on legislative issues. She also said that the Minnesota House will be taking up police reform and accountability measures this evening on the floor.

As it relates to passing a bonding bill, Hortman said that House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt’s (R-Crown) position that there won’t be a bonding bill while the governor maintains his peacetime emergency powers is a stumbling block. She said that legislative leaders are getting close on a bonding and tax bill, but that there needs to be a willingness to compromise from Republicans.

Gazelka Press Conference

In response to the governor’s press conference, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) held his own press availability. Gazelka noted that the Senate acted quicker on police reform and accountability legislation than the House. He also expressed displeasure at the change in approach to how the federal CARES Act resources would be allocated to local units of government. His understanding was that all four caucus leaders had agreed to the version passed by the Senate, but now the House is also attaching other spending measures to the legislation.

Gazelka said that a $1.35 billion bonding bill was the agreed-upon figure by legislative leaders. He does not plan for the bill to be larger than that number.

As it relates to the Friday deadline, Gazelka said a deadline is needed because it forces people to make decisions. He does not want the legislature to be in special session all summer and noted the expense of conducting special sessions. If there is an agreement over the summer by legislative leaders and the governor, he said that the legislature can come back and pass it. He also wants to see what the budget forecast will be in August so that legislators can make informed decisions about spending.

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

Minnesota Department of Health Briefing

This afternoon, state officials from the Department of Health and Department of Education 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 the state now has 31,675 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is up 387 from yesterday’s report.
  • There were an additional 19 deaths due to COVID-19 since yesterday’s report. This brings the state total to 1,344 deaths.
  • Currently, 345 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19 with 171 of those in the ICU.
  • Hospitalizations are down six from yesterday’s report.
  • ICU use is down 10 since yesterday’s report.
  • The Minnesota Department of Health issued guidance yesterday on outdoor visitation to long-term care facilities. The guidance is effective immediately and the department is strongly encouraging facilities to begin implementation. Information on the guidance can be found here.

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

  • Director Ehresmann announced that the state is updating the data that is reported on the state’s COVID-19 website. New information has been incorporated to include:
  • Testing data by county
  • Information on languages used most often during contact tracing interviews
  • Age-adjusted rates for cases, hospitalizations, ICU admittance, and deaths

Deputy Commissioner Heather Mueller, Department of Education

  • Deputy Commissioner Mueller announced that the Department of Education and Department of Health have released guidance documents to help Minnesota schools plan for the next school year.
  • The state is asking schools to create three different contingency plans for three different scenarios:
  • In-person learning
  • A hybrid model
  • Distance learning
  • The Department of Education and the Department of Health will make an announcement no later than the week of July 27 as to which approach the state will be using.
  • The planning guide for schools for the upcoming academic year can be found here.

Walz Signs Three Bills

Today, Governor Walz signed three bills into law:

  • Chapter 2, House File 11: Health and Human Services Policy Omnibus

This bill contains human services provisions including various provisions relating to child care, custody, support, foster care, disability services, community supports, civil commitment, maltreatment of minors, child protection, and child support.

  • Chapter 3, House File 65: Vehicle Title and Registration System (VTRS) Conforming Changes

This bill makes small but necessary conforming changes pertaining to replacement license plates for VTRS, the new vehicle registration system. It also authorizes the Department of Public Safety to add a gold star indicator to the front of Minnesota Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) to ensure Minnesotans who carry an EDL will not encounter confusion or difficulty in proving their EDL is REAL ID compliant.

  • Chapter 4, House File 37: Environmental Policy Bill

This bill extends the availability of Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) funding awarded to various environmental projects across the state. Without this change in law, fund recipients would have needed to return roughly $7.1M, which need additional time due to COVID-19, and projects would have not been completed. The bill also includes a pilot project to examine ATV access to wildlife management areas, and temporary changes to the way the solid waste management tax is assessed during the peacetime emergency so waste haulers are not unfairly taxed.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
LOCKRIDGE GRINDAL NAUEN P.L.L.P.
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