MN Government Updates 10.21

Walz Signs Bonding Bill

At the Ironworkers Local 512 Training Center in St. Paul today, Governor Tim Walz signed the $1.9 billion Local Jobs and Projects Plan that will invest in construction and renovation projects across the state. The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Minnesota House (100-34) and Senate (64-3).

“Our Local Jobs and Projects Plan will create thousands of good-paying jobs at a time when Minnesotans are looking for work," said Governor Walz. "This bipartisan plan invests in the projects that local communities told us matter most to them. Whether that's roads and bridges, clean water, or affordable housing, this plan will help ensure every community in Minnesota prospers."

The $1.87 billion bonding bill will help pay for hundreds of infrastructure projects that will bring long-term benefits to communities across the state, including:

  • $627 million for transportation infrastructure, including local roads and bridges
  • $269 million for water infrastructure projects 
  • $166 million for the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State 
  • $116 million for safe and affordable housing  

The bill also includes tax cuts for farmers and small businesses, funding to allow the Willow River and Togo correctional facilities to remain open, and temporary pay increases for personal care assistants who care for vulnerable Minnesotans.

A full list of projects included in the bill is available here.

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.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm reported 1,079 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 126,591.
  • Yesterday, 15,733 COVID-19 tests were processed.
  • There were 33 new deaths due to COVID-19. This is tied for the highest number of daily COVID-19 deaths in the state thus far in the pandemic. The state has now had 2,281 deaths due to COVID-19.
  • There are 25 more people in the hospital than reported yesterday. There are a total of 558 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 with 162 in the ICU.
  • Commissioner Malcolm lamented the rise in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19. She stated, “We all need to work together toward common value – tolerating personal inconveniences to address a major threat to our state. This is a historical challenge to our state and nation. In years to come, we want to look back that even though we may not have agreed on every policy and every decision, we did our part. I’m really thankful that most Minnesotans who have tested positive for COVID-19 have not become seriously ill, but so many have become seriously ill. Far too many people have died. We all need to take action now. Eight months is a long time to postpone milestones and gatherings. The majority of us are finding the will and finding a way. To beat a pandemic, we need more than a majority. We need all of us to make personal individual efforts to keep Minnesotans safe.”

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

  • Director Ehresmann reported that four vaccines are at the advanced stages of clinical trials. While it’s too early to say when the first vaccine will be available to Minnesotans, one or more will be available in the months ahead.
  • She provided an outline of what vaccine distribution will look like in Minnesota.
  • The expectation is that the vaccine will be provided to Minnesotans at no charge to them.
  • The first supply will be limited and prioritized for those most at risk for COVID-19. The state is working to identify critical employees in the state. The Minnesota Department of Health is awaiting additional guidance from the CDC on this front.
  • The state is planning to roll out vaccine in phases to these populations as more vaccines become available.
  • Any vaccine must meet same science-based standard of other vaccines – thorough vetting and review of third party experts. The Minnesota Department of Health will take its lead from a national independent committee that will determine whether any vaccine has met safety criteria.
  • The distribution and availability of vaccine must be fair and reflect Minnesota’s priority and values – especially in early weeks when availability is limited.

Christine Lees, Dakota County Public Health Supervisor

  • Lee stated that Dakota County is currently planning for Phase One of vaccine distribution – including who will be administering the vaccine to the populations identified for first doses. Those populations include those in long-term care, adult group homes, skilled nursing facilities, healthcare workers, and emergency medical personnel identified as “mission critical” for vaccination. Phase One plans will be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Health in November.
  • Phase Two planning is also underway. This will occur when thousands of people will be able to be vaccinated through clinics in larger settings. The county is working with local partners and county staff to be ready when a vaccine is more widely available.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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