The notice of a Tuesday session came out at 11:25 pm the legislature will reconvene tomorrow to address COVID-19 Workers Compensation legislation. The important information was “Legislative leaders have agreed to reconvene on Tuesday. We will be taking up legislation to address workers’ compensation claims for our first responders, police officers, firefighters, and health care workers, including home health care workers, who contract COVID-19.”
The House is scheduled for 12:00 pm and the Senate is for 2:00 pm
On Friday, Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) along with Commissioner Jan Malcolm released the State of Minnesota’s comprehensive COVID-19 page on the Department of Health’s Website. Additionally, the MN House also has a page which provides more and information.
In spite of not having scientific support for his position Donald J Trump (R) continues to put forward his contention that the use of Hydroxychloroquine a drug for Malaria and Lupus and Erythromycin a drug for bacterial infections as a panacea to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Yesterday, he informed the public his intent to provide access to the 30 million doses donated by Trump to HHS. This after, we learned of the conflict in the administration over the weekend between White House Economic Adviser Peter Navaro and CDC Head Anthony Fauchi.
Now, that we have learned UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now in Intensive Care, we wonder if Trump is recommending this treatment for his political ally. As coverage of Johnson’s condition continued to be discussed reports grew bleaker throughout the day. On Sunday, while emphasizing his point Trump said “What do you have to lose?” In this case, the best response came from AMA President Patricia Harris, “Your life.” This just goes to show, even those with platinum healthcare are not immune to this virus.
This is not the first time a Malaria treatment was seen as a curative. History shows in India, the British as an enterprising lot, toke the bitter Malaria treatment, Quinine mixed it with Gin and created the Gin and Tonic.
As we are in the midst of the second week of the Stay at Home Executive Order 20-20 more orders are coming from Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) to stipulate what options are available to our state’s citizens. Today, Executive Order 20-25 Authorizing Peace Officers, Firefighters, and Security-Related Licensing Boards to Modify Requirements During the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency and Executive Order 20-26 Ensuring Continuing Operations of the Medical Cannabis Program during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency were released and we expect more to follow.
To see the entirety of the list click here https://mn.gov/governor/news/executiveorders.jsp
As you know the legislature is on break until April 14th, but there are teleconferenced meetings scheduled between now and then. The House Rules and Administration is holding a meeting today at 2:20 pm and the Senate COVID-19 Response Working Group is scheduled for tomorrow at 1:00 pm. The entire schedule can be found at the following link. https://www.leg.state.mn.us/cal?type=all
The day Donald J Trump (R) signed Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the COVID-19 Response Bill in a White House signing ceremony, which no Democrats were invited to attend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA12) was discussing the next legislation which would focus on Infrastructure. This week Trump is parroting the same idea. We remember, during her first term, she advanced the idea, reflective of how things are done here in Minnesota, of having both a Capital Budget and a Operating Budget.
If Trump follows her lead on this idea, he might actually do something beneficial for our nation for the first time since he has been in office. He has talked about a public/private partnership and if it results in the Federal Government selling bond for infrastructure projects it will create a new market and pump more money into the system.
We spoke with State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee Chair Mary Kiffmeyer (R-30, Big Lake) and learned she will be revisiting Sen Mark Koran’s (R-32, North Branch) bill SF3385 Ranked-choice voting local government adoption prohibition. We have been assured this will make it to the floor and since its original introduction Senators Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook) and David Tomassoni (DFL-06, Chisholm) has signed onto the bill as co-authors.
We also know they will be other DFL votes for this when it arrives on the floor and do not be surprised but there will be Senators from communities that vote in this fashion who may show the bravery to vote for the bill.
We are expecting a February Budget Forecast to be largely inline with the November Forecast. The quarterly report released by Minnesota Management & Budget Office showed a slight improvement on receipts, but some corporate figures are expected in the first quarter of this year due to an alignment with Federal reporting. MMB Report
With the release of the February Budget Forecast, legislators can have their final numbers to calculate for their own budgeting. This forecast will not include any effects from the Coronavirus, because the calculations occurred before the outbreak and may call for additional cautions.
What: 2020 February Budget and Economic Forecast
Where: Dept. of Revenue, Skjegstad Room (2000), 600 Robert St. N., St. Paul, MN 55101
When: Thursday, February 27 at 11:15 a.m.
Last night, the Minnesota House passed two bills, HF3100 establishing an Emergency Insulin program 75-52 and HF3068 regulating the Presidential Primary results 72-55. Both set up a conflict with the Senate.
In regards to Insulin the DFL wants the companies, which have generated significant profits by elevating the costs of what used to be a relatively affordable lifesaving drug. The Senate is proposing a mechanism through which the companies can provide a voucher, which provides an opportunity for a write-off.
The Presidential Primary data issue is one that may have more opportunities for compromise, but the sticking point will be with former Secretary of State, Sen Mary Kiffmeyer (R-30, Big Lake), who is consciously aware of the system as constructed since she played a major role in the current legislation.
Kiffmeyer is quite in tune with the various effects changes in the electoral process have on her political party and some other admendments to election law might be a way to soften her opposition. She has shown an interest in the creation of “provisional ballots” rather than the allowance of Same Day registrants to be automatically added into the voting result. She also is a stringent opponent to Ranked Choice Voting, HF3365 which is Rep Steve Elkins (DFL-49B, Edina) Bill, and a ban on this process in the entire state would likely create a warming trend to other electoral issues, with her.
Since this is an election year all legislators are hyper-sensitive to any electoral changes because they will need to adapt their campaigns, which are underway to any different processes.
We spoke with Secretary of State Steve Simon (DFL-MN) about the timing of changes to distribution of the Presidential Primary data and he said, the counties have ten weeks to provide, but also can ask for a four week extension so the expectation being the data will not be available until early May. In a conversation with another reporter he related a comment by DFL Party Chair Ken Martin, the the DFL doesn’t actually need this data because they know largely how the electorate responds from their access to the VAN (Voter Action Network).
Since 2002, under the Administration of Governor Jesse Ventura (I-MN) Budget Forecasts have not included inflation and have largely been a misrepresentations of the true cost of of Minnesota government. In her bill, HF150 Rep Jennifer Schultz (DFL-07A, Duluth) calls for “Inflation rate inclusion in state forecast required.”
This would be a significant change in the forecasting process, because of recent history, but no untoward. In her non-legislative job Schultz teaches Economics at a the University of Minnesota, Duluth and this honest change seems worthy. The problems is Republicans in the Senate may see things far differently because collectively Republicans believe inclusion of inflation in projected spending “ puts government on autopilot” and obligates future legislatures to specific spending figures. Ironically, they do include inflation on the revenue side of the equation.
We suggest a valued compromise to be the reporting of two figures, one with and the other without inflation by the forecasting company employed by the MInnesota Management & Budget Office. The order of the reporting should be published as we stipulated and the debate over what the figures mean globally can be discussed with complete disclosure infinitum.
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