Walz State of the State 2020

Minnesota Report

As he sat in the Governor’s Mansion under a self-imposed 14-day quarantine Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) addressed the current Stay-at-Home situation felt across our state. His comments only addressed this issue and not much else. One would think during the Bonding Session some reference to a Bonding Bill, especially a larger bill fully utilizing the $3.5 billion of the state’s debt capacity would have been mentioned.

Afterward, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) put out a YouTube response called We’re in This Together. House Minority Leader.

The entirety of Walz’ prepared remarks are show below. https://mn.gov/governor/news/#/detail/appId/1/id/426785


Good Evening, Minnesotans.

Thank you for joining me on this beautiful Sunday.

I am speaking to you live from the Governor’s Residence where I have been in self-quarantine.

Self-quarantine. Self-isolation. Social distancing.

Phrases that many of us never used before now roll off our tongue in daily conversation.

A new vocabulary to define a new reality.

hard, cold reality. One that far exceeds the reality of Minnesota’s harshest winters.

From my daily briefings, many of you know the current situation. You know about COVID-19—and you know there’s a lot we don’t know about it. You know about the actions we’ve taken to combat it—and you know how these actions disrupt your daily life.

Many of you are out of work. Businesses, large and small, are shuttered across the state. The companionship we normally lean on to get through difficult times—a hug from a grandparent, coffee with a friend, or a laugh with a co-worker—forced out of reach.

Vacant streets. Deserted classrooms. Empty pews.

Chairs stacked on restaurant tables.

Graduations, weddings, and funerals postponed.

Right at the time Minnesotans are usually putting away their shovels and snowblowers, opening up their windows, and emerging from their homes—we are bracing for a storm of epic proportions.

We are used to long winters in Minnesota. We are resilient people with a deep reserve of courage, optimism, and grit.

But this will be a winter like we’ve never seen before.

And as we have done for generations, once the tree limbs are stark and the sky a cold dark gray—we prepare.

There’s no stopping the storm of COVID-19 from hitting Minnesota, but we are preparing for it.

We are building our hospital capacity so that we can ensure as many Minnesotans as possible receive the care they need when they need it.

We are increasing testing to better track the disease.

We are increasing ventilators and ICU beds for when people fall ill.

And just as we wouldn’t send a loved one out into the cold without the protection they need, we are doing our best to find more personal protective equipment for the selfless doctors, nurses, first responders, and so many others on the frontlines against COVID-19.

Minnesotans won’t just prepare for COVID-19—we will lead.

The brilliant minds and hard work of Minnesotans will help lead the world’s response to this crisis.

Mayo Clinic is leading a national trial to use blood from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 as a treatment for others who fall ill with the disease.

Hospitals across the state, from the largest systems to the smallest, are preparing in new ways for a surge in patients.

3M workers are producing millions of protective face masks a month.

Medtronic is publicly sharing the design specifications for its ventilators to spark rapid manufacturing of this critical equipment desperately needed to save lives.

From Duluth to Hallock to Saint Paul, smaller companies and employees are halting production to produce masks, make hand sanitizer, and help in any way they can.

And you—staying home—are doing some of the most critical work of all.

I know it doesn’t feel that way for many of you. Minnesotans are hardworking people who step in to help. In many storms, that means plowing out your neighborhood, filing sandbags, or trudging through the snow to check on your loved ones.

Now that means staying home. What you are doing isn’t paralysis—it’s action.

Staying home reduces face-to-face contact and thus the threat of virus transmission by up to 80 percent.

Staying home is the only vaccine we have right now.

You are slowing the spread of this disease. You are protecting your neighbors. You are giving hospitals time to prepare to care for the many who will fall ill.

You are making a difference. You are saving lives.

As a dad and as a former teacher, I want to speak directly to our children for a moment.

I know this is scary. I know you miss seeing your teachers and your classmates. I know it’s disappointing that many of the important end-of-school activities have been canceled. I know there are athletes out there who were prepared to go win state championships on diamonds and fields across the state.

But what you are doing matters. Your sacrifice is keeping people safe. You are protecting people. Someday when you have children of your own, you will tell them about this moment in history and what you did to help the people of your state. Thank you.

Parents, I know this is hard. Many of you are watching your children while trying to work yourselves. And you’re worried about the bills.

This is hard for everyone. Take a deep breath. Be kind to yourself. We are all doing the best we can—and that’s all we can do.

Minnesotans, I don’t take what we’ve asked you to do lightly. I served in the Army National Guard for 24 years. I raised my hand to defend freedom and liberty.

In a democracy, any action to restrict these rights cannot be enacted lightly. But at the moment, they are critical—to save lives.

My promise is to continue to communicate my decisions, explain when we change course, and never stop fighting alongside you, the people of Minnesota.

These last few weeks have been difficult—and it’s only going to get harder.

Long hours of darkness are ahead.

We are going to do everything in our power to save lives—and as hard as we work—we won’t be able to save everyone.

It’s going to be a cold winter. How do we get through a cold winter? We get through it together. As One Minnesota.

We shovel our neighbor’s sidewalk. We push out a stranger’s car. We donate hats and mittens.

This collective spirit empowers us to endure winter—and it is how we will endure this crisis as well.

You see it already.

The White Bear Lake Pee Wee hockey team was on the road to New Ulm for the state tournament when it was canceled mid-route due to COVID-19.

While the season ended abruptly, the team is still a team– virtually.

The players and their parents have started a text chain to check in every night to see how everyone is doing and if anyone needs help.

One evening, a player’s mom shared how she is exhausted from her work as a nurse and is worried about doing her job without personal protective equipment.

The next day, the hockey dads cleaned out their supplies of masks at work and in their garage.

A big box was left on the nurse’s doorstep with a note that said: “Your hockey family loves you.”

It left her in tears. Her hockey family is helping her through this crisis.

This same spirit flows between the high rises of downtown Minneapolis where people go out on their balconies to clap, cheer, and bang pots and pans to celebrate health care workers when they get off a shift.

In North Branch, a state trooper pulled a woman over this weekend for speeding.

It turns out, she was a doctor in town for work.

The trooper noticed some medical masks in her bag that she had been forced to re-use due to the current shortage.

Instead of handing her a ticket, the trooper handed her a stack of masks that he had been given to keep him safe.

At a state veterans’ home, the grandchildren of one of the residents were sad that they can no longer visit their grandpa.

They created chalk drawings outside his window not only lift his spirits, but also to thank the staff for caring for him during this difficult time.

While we may be separated physically, we stand united. From Rondo to the Range, from North Minneapolis to North Mankato, we are One Minnesota.

And a new day will come.

The sun will shine. The trees will bud. The birds will sing.

Spring will arrive. And when it does, we will dig out. We will do whatever it takes to support Minnesotans and businesses to get back on their feet.

Our communities will forever be changed. Our state will forever be changed. Our world will forever be changed.

We will grieve all that was taken from us. But we will also celebrate all that’s given to us.

Unity. Humanity. Gratitude.

We will be more united as a state. We will cherish each other’s humanity. We will have endless gratitude for the lives we lead.

These trying times have led us back to each other.

We will value those we overlooked before. When times got tough, who did we lean on? It was the nurse. The grocer. The truck driver. The farmer. The janitor.

We will recognize all that educators and child care providers do for our students, our communities and our economy.

This crisis shows how much Minnesota depends on our schools not only to teach our children – but to feed them and provide for their physical and mental well-being.

We will recognize all that public health workers do at the local and state level to detect and respond to health threats, not just infectious disease outbreaks but the many other threats that impact our personal and community health.

We will continue to look out for the most vulnerable—the poor, the sick, the hungry. Many have stepped up to protect them during this crisis and that dedication to their dignity and livelihood must endure.

We won’t take normalcy for granted. Our modern lives move fast—and this presents an opportunity to slow down and appreciate what truly matters.

We will welcome the morning rush getting our children to school.

We will smile as we pass restaurants bustling with friends sharing a meal.

We will gather again in our houses of worship.

We will have a renewed appreciation for the calming power of a warm embrace.

We won’t just make it to spring. We will come out better on the other side of this winter.

Because we are Minnesotans. We see challenges—and we tackle them.

No matter how daunting the challenge; no matter how dark the times; Minnesota has always risen up—by coming together.

Our blood saved the Union at Gettysburg.

Our iron forged the tanks that liberated Europe.

Our farmers sparked a green revolution that fed the world.

Our imagination transformed medicine—and appears poised to do so once again.

The State of our State is strong.

The State of our State is resilient.

The State of our State is united.

And our hearts are filled with gratitude for each and every Minnesotan and the role they play in the fight against COVID-19.

Thank you.

Stay home, and stay healthy, Minnesota.


Legislature Coming Back in Session Tomorrow

Minnesota Report

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

COVID-19 Bill Spreadsheet

House Research Department COVID-19 Information

Trump’s Continued Call for Hydroxychloroquine

National Report

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.

Walz Executive Orders During Pandemic

Minnesota Report

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

Trump Following a Good Idea from Pelosi

National Report

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.

The Return of a Ranked Choice Voting Ban

Minnesota Report

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.

The opposite position HF0983 Authored by Rep Steve Elkins (DFL-49B, Edina) passed out of the Government Operations Subcommittee on Elections.

Expectations on Budget Forecast, Prior to Announcement

Minnesota Report

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.

House Votes on Insulin and Presidential Primary

Minnesota Report

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).

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