MN Government Updates 07.20

Legislative Activity for July 20, 2020

Today, both the House and Senate convened floor sessions for what is expected to be the final day of the second special session of 2020.

Minnesota House

The Minnesota House debated and voted upon House Resolution 1, authored by Representative Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), which declares racism a public health crisis in the state. It also creates a House select committee to ensure House efforts are analyzed through an intersectional race equity lens. The resolution passed 82-40.

The House is expected to reconvene later this afternoon to take up the following bills:

  • House File 1, authored by Representative Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul), contains a variety of proposals intended to address incidents of peace officers using excessive force against members of the public, increase community oversight of law enforcement, enhance peace officer training, and respond to the rights of victims’ families and felons.
  • House File 3, authored by Representative Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown), is the combined bonding-and-tax bill.
  • House File 14, authored by Representative Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal), is the governor’s supplemental budget bill.

Earlier today, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) held a press conference and said the bonding-and-tax bill does not have enough support among Republicans in the House to pass. Bonding bills require a three-fifths (60%) vote in support in each chamber to pass. This means that 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. Daudt said that more consultation with House Republicans is needed and suggested the potential August special session would the next opportunity to try to pass a bonding bill.

Minnesota Senate

The Minnesota Senate debated and voted upon Senate Resolution 5, authored by Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), urging the governor to exclude public schools from any further executive orders issued subject to the emergency powers. The resolution passed 37-30.

Later, the Senate debated motions to suspend the rules, which requires two-thirds support (45 votes), to take up two bills:

  • Senate File 3, authored by Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), appropriates $25 million for school re-opening grants. The motion to suspend the rules failed 35-32, falling short of the 45 votes needed.
  • Senate File 33, authored by Senator Steve Cwodzinski (DFL-Eden Prairie), provides guidance to courts on sentencing veterans for criminal offenses related to service-related disorder. The motion to suspend the rules failed 32-35, falling short of the 45 votes needed.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) said this morning that the majority leadership in both the House and Senate have agreed on a bonding bill and police reform and accountability legislation. However, the votes of House Republicans in the minority in the House are needed for the bonding bill to pass. Additionally, House and Senate negotiators are working on finalizing the language for police reform and accountability legislation.

Because a bonding bill and a tax bill must originate in the House, the Senate will be waiting for the House to send legislation. Gazelka said that the Senate will likely adjourn the special session around midnight tonight.

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.

Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm & Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann

  • Commissioner Malcolm reported 922 cases of COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of cases to 47,107.
  • Due to the Department of Health transitioning to a new data management system, not all of these cases have been fully vetted through the typical process. It is expected that a majority of these cases are confirmed cases, but the state will be making corrections over the next few days.
  • 257 cases went through the entire formal process. 665 were in the queue, but not fully vetted.
  • The median age for a COVID-19 case is 37-years-old.
  • Currently, 247 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19 with 115 of those in the ICU.
  • Yesterday, 14,287 COVID-19 tests were processed.
  • The seven-day average COVID-19 test positivity rate is 4.7%. This is an increase from 4.4% a week prior.
  • There were four additional deaths due to COVID-19. This brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota to 1,545.
  • One of these deaths occurred in a nine-month old infant.
  • According to the Department of Health, this appears to be an isolated incident related to the infant’s very specific situation. The infant did not have any known underlying health conditions. This is one of the youngest COVID-19 deaths reported in the country to date and the first death of anyone under 20-years-old in Minnesota.
  • The child had respiratory symptoms and showed evidence of inflammation in upper airways. The child was not hospitalized.
  • The child was identified as having two causes of death – upper and lower respiratory tract infections and nasal culture positive for COVID-19.
  • When asked about whether the Department of Health is recommending shutting down bars and restaurants to slow the spread of COVID-19, Commissioner Malcolm responded that the state is doing additional enforcement and the focus is on making sure people understand what the requirements are under the governor’s executive order. While it’s an on-going topic of conversation, the department has not made a recommendation on shutting down bars and restaurants at this point.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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