New Provisions for MN During Corona Pandemic Effective Date May 18, 2020

Minnesota Report

Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) has extended the peacetime emergency put forward new provisions to all the opening of some businesses, to 50% of their capacity, when safety protocols are in place. He sent the following letter to legislative leaders. after that we have included the attached the Executive Orders now in effect and press release. The effective date is May 18, 2020.

Sent to: Speaker of the House Representative Melissa Hortman, Minority Leader Representative Kurt Daudt, Majority Leader Senator Paul Gazelka, Minority Leader Senator Susan Kent

Thank you for your partnership during these challenging times. As you know, on March 13, 2020, in Executive Order 20-01, I declared a peacetime emergency to respond to the COVID19 pandemic. That declaration was extended by the Executive Council on March 16, 2020. After notifying you of my intentions, on April 13, 2020, I extended the peacetime emergency until today, May 13, 2020. When I wrote to you last month, Minnesota had experienced 70 fatalities as a result of COVID-19. As of yesterday, COVID-19 had claimed the lives of more than 600 Minnesotans. We have continued to implement policies and exercise emergency powers to protect the health and safety of all Minnesotans. As COVID-19 cases and fatalities continue to increase, our emergency efforts must also continue. As a result, I have determined that there is a need to extend the peacetime emergency for an additional 30 days, until June 12, 2020.  Minnesota law provides that the Legislature may terminate a peacetime emergency that extends beyond 30 days by a majority vote of each house of the Legislature. Minnesota law also provides that, if I determine a need to extend a peacetime emergency beyond 30 days, and the Legislature is not sitting in session, I must issue a call immediately convening both houses of the Legislature. Because the Legislature is currently sitting in session, there is no need for me to issue such a call. Please consider this letter as notice of my intention to extend the peacetime emergency declared in Executive Order 20-01 beyond 30 days under Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 12.31, subdivision 2(b). Although I am not expressly required to do so, I plan to seek the Executive Council’s approval of this extension and any future extensions. As I explained last month, although Minnesota law is largely silent as to the procedure for extending peacetime emergencies beyond 30 days, I have concluded that the following procedure, which draws on elements of Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 12.31, subdivision 2, is prudent:

  • I will continue to extend the peacetime emergency in 30-day increments, calculated in accordance with Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 645.15.
  • I will seek the Executive Council’s approval of each extension.
  • If the Legislature is not currently sitting in session on the day of the extension, I will call the Legislature into special session.

 

If a further extension of the peacetime emergency is needed beyond June 12, 2020, I will follow the above steps and call the Legislature into a special session on or before June 12, 2020.

 

Sincerely,

Tim Walz Governor

 

The response from Sen Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) states the following,

“We’re moving in the right direction,…This is really good news. I’m glad that he listened to us and I feel like we lead the way. Now it’s up to us, you and me, that we practice safe distancing. I have every confidence we’re going to be able to do it. Minnesota is back on track.” The full response is available on video. 

MN EO 20-56 -Extending the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency Declared in Executive Order 20-0

MN EO 20-55-Protecting Workers from Unsafe Working Conditions and Retaliation During the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency

MN EO 20-54 -Protecting the Rights and Health of At-Risk Populations during the COVID19 Peacetime Emergency

MN EO 20-53 -Safely Reopening Minnesota’s Economy and Ensuring Safe Non-Work Activities during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency

 

Governor Walz Announces Next Phase of COVID-19 Response in Minnesota

Citing progress made to prepare for peak of infection, Walz announced measured, cautious ‘turning of dial’ toward new normal

 With Stay Home order set to expire on May 18, Walz will replace it with an order continuing to encourage Minnesotans to stay close to home but allowing for gatherings of friends and family of 10 people or less

 Walz also opening retail stores and other main street businesses if they have a social distancing plan and operate at 50 percent occupancy

 

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Today, Governor Tim Walz announced the next phase of the COVID-19 response in Minnesota. Citing progress made to prepare for peak of infection, the Governor announced a measured, cautious turning of the dial toward a new normal. With the Stay Home Executive Order set to expire on May 18, the Governor will replace it with an order continuing to encourage Minnesotans to stay close to home but allowing for gatherings of friends and family of 10 people or less. The Governor will also open retail stores and other main street businesses if they have a social distancing plan and operate at 50 percent occupancy.

“Minnesotans, thank you for your continued sacrifices,” Governor Walz said. “You have saved thousands of lives. You successfully pushed out the peak of this virus and bought our state time to get ready to treat those who fall ill. We know there’s no stopping the storm of COVID-19 from hitting Minnesota, but we have made great progress to prepare for it.”

 “This is not the time for sudden movements,” Governor Walz continued. “We are not flipping a switch and going back to normal all at once. We are slowly moving a dial and introducing more interaction between people over time. As we take cautious steps forward, it is more important than ever that we protect those most at risk, support workers, and all do our part to slow the spread of the virus.”

 

In conjunction with this announcement today, the Governor signed Executive Orders to protect Minnesotans most at risk from the virus and safeguard workers. The first Executive Order strongly encourages Minnesotans at greatest risk of serious illness to continue staying home. The second Executive Order ensures workers can raise concerns regarding the safety of their work environments without fear of discrimination or retaliation. It also protects workers from loss of income if they refuse to work under unsafe or unhealthy conditions.

“As we slowly and cautiously move the dial, we are centering Minnesota workers in our decisions,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “At this moment, worker protections are paramount. Minnesotans with underlying conditions can and should continue staying home to protect their health, and those who return to work can and should raise concerns about the health and safety practices of their workplaces without fear of discrimination or retaliation. That’s how we stay safe together.”

Following the guidance of public health officials, the Governor today announced a preliminary set of health indicators that could trigger a decision to re-impose restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. These indicators will be refined over time as we learn more about the virus and the course of the pandemic in Minnesota. They include the number of COVID-19 tests that can be conducted as well as the rate of increase in:

  • Number of new COVID-19 cases
  • Percent of COVID-19 tests that are positive
  • Percent of COVID-19 cases for which the source of infection is unknown

“Minnesota is still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and we will be dealing with its impacts for many months,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “We’ve made encouraging progress on preparedness and on safeguarding our most vulnerable, and that work will continue. As Governor Walz adjusts the state’s response and guidance to meet current and future needs, we will continue to track the course of the pandemic and apply the many things we are learning about the virus and its risks. Our goal is to protect the most vulnerable Minnesotans while also learning how to live with this pandemic until a vaccine becomes widely available.”

When the Stay Home MN order ends on May 18, the Governor announced today that he will be replacing it with a new order that brings back more social interactions. Titled “Stay Safe MN,” Minnesotans are still asked to stay close to home and limit travel to what is essential. But the order allows gatherings with friends and family in groups of 10 or less with social distancing. In all cases, Minnesotans are asked not to gather in large groups. All gatherings are limited to 10 and social distancing with masks, hand-washing and other safety measures should be followed to protect each other.

An additional executive order announced today will allow retail stores, malls, and main street businesses to reopen for in-person shopping as long as they have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in place that incorporates social distancing protocols for workers and customers and limits occupancy to no more than 50 percent of the establishment’s occupant capacity. The Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) estimates that this action will enable up to 37,000 more workers to safely return to work over the next several weeks. Additional guidance, including a template plan and checklist for businesses, is available on DEED’s website at mn.gov/deed/safework.

“Ensuring the health and safety of workers and customers is the top priority as we gradually reopen our economy and put more people back to work,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “We have worked closely with our state’s business community and labor organizations and listened to Minnesotans across the state about our next steps, and we’re eager to see more businesses expand operations with the necessary safety protocols in place.”   

The Governor also announced today that he is directing his cabinet to assemble similar guidance on how to safely re-open bars, restaurants, barbershops, and salons beginning June 1. This will coincide with a significant increase in testing, tracing, and isolating the virus in the state.

The Governor today also extended his peacetime emergency authority until June 12. Extending the peacetime emergency in Minnesota allows the Governor to keep his toolbox open so he can take critical, swift action to protect Minnesotans. Being in a peacetime state of emergency has allowed Minnesota to: enhance protections for veterans in our veterans homes; activate the National Guard to assist in relief efforts; provide economic relief and stability to those impacted by the pandemic; and more. The Governor’s letter to state legislative leaders on the peacetime emergency extension is attached.

 

The full prepared text of Governor Tim Walz’ speech.

 

Good Evening.

This week, Minnesota celebrated 162 years of statehood.

From the Indigenous people who have called this land home from time immemorial to newcomers seeking opportunity, the people of Minnesota have faced great challenges over the years.

Soldiers not coming home from war. Breadlines stretching around street corners during the Great Depression. Fierce floods wreaking havoc on communities. A bridge collapsing in the middle of Minneapolis.

And as our state starts our 163rd year, we face a challenge we’ve never seen before: COVID-19.

A global pandemic.

COVID-19 has upended life as we know it. The virus has claimed the lives of more than 600 Minnesotans.

Grandparents. Parents. Daughters. Sons.

Friends. Neighbors. Coworkers.

We honor their memories. We will never forget them.

We will also never forget the countless heroes who have answered the call during this crisis.

On behalf of all Minnesotans, thank you to the health care workers and first responders who continue to put their lives on the line every day to protect us. From hospitals to care facilities, these Minnesotans are putting themselves in harms way to keep us safe. We must do everything we can to support and protect them.

Thank you to all the other workers: the grocer. The farmer. The meat processor. The teacher. The child care provider. The sanitation worker. And so many more who may have been overlooked before and now we find ourselves leaning on when times are tough.

And times are tough, Minnesota. Many of you are out of work. Businesses are shuttered. Families are struggling to pay rent. People are worried about making ends meet.

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—are forced out of reach.

As I said during my State of the State address last month, COVID-19 exceeds the reality of Minnesota’s harshest winters.

Seeing what was coming, we told you we weren’t ready. We asked you to slow the spread of the virus by staying home. We told you we needed time to prepare for this fight.

 We have used that time wisely.

 We have built out hospital capacity so that we can ensure as many Minnesotans as possible receive the care they need when they need it. 

We have increased the number of ventilators and ICU beds for when people fall really ill.

We have sourced critical care and personal protective equipment for the selfless doctors, nurses, first responders, and so many others on the frontlines.

And we launched an aggressive testing strategy with Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and our hospitals to test every symptomatic Minnesotan. Today we hit an all-time record with over 6,700 Minnesotans tested.

All of this work was done in partnership with our cutting-edge health sector, innovative business community, world-class universities, and everyday Minnesotans like you from across the state.

We know there’s no stopping the storm of COVID-19 from hitting Minnesota, but we have prepared for it.

We’ve successfully pushed out and reduced the peak of this virus, and we’ve made great progress to ensure we can treat Minnesotans who fall ill.

Thank you for your sacrifices. You have saved the lives of thousands of Minnesotans.

At this point in time, Minnesota is staying steady in hospitalizations.

With the capacity that we built while you stayed home, we can chart a new way forward.

We believe that we should be able to handle an increase in cases as more people move out and about.

We can use what we have learned about the virus and how it spreads to inform our next steps.

We can take a measured, Minnesota approach that protects public health and improves economic stability.

This means cautious, strategic steps forward.

And it means clear measures for determining if and when we need to pull back.

We are not flipping a switch and all going back to normal at once. We are slowly moving a dial and introducing more interaction between people over time.

As we consider what can safely resume or reopen, we must take into account three critical factors.

First, how close you are to another person in a given setting or activity.

Second, how long you are in close proximity to another person.

Third, how predictable the setting is.

For example, walking past people in a hardware store wearing a mask is less risky and more predictable than sitting for a meal in a crowded restaurant.

This is the lens we are using when considering how we can safely turn the dial.

And starting May 18, we are turning the workplace dial. Non-critical businesses, like retail stores and main street businesses, can reopen if they have a safety plan and operate at no more than 50 percent occupancy.

Small businesses are critical to the social and economic fabric of communities across Minnesota. I recognize how hard the pandemic has been on them, and I hope this action charts a safe, prosperous path forward.

We can make this turn of the dial and keep people safe, if we can trust each other to continue to be cautious. We need business owners to follow the new guidance to protect workers and customers. And we encourage customers to wear masks, socially distance, and not congregate in stores.

As we look forward, I have directed my cabinet to continue the extensive discussions they are already having with health experts and thousands of businesses on future openings.

I’m directing them to assemble similar guidance on how to safely re-open bars, restaurants, barbershops, and salons beginning June 1. This will coincide with a significant increase in testing, tracing, and isolating the virus in the state.

We are also turning the social dial. We know this has been hard. Weddings, funerals, graduations postponed. The letters I’ve received from young children offering to cancel their birthday parties break my heart. Our social and mental well-being is an important factor as we chart our path forward.

When the Stay Home order ends on May 18, we are replacing it with a new order that brings back more of the social interactions that are so important in life but that still asks Minnesotans to Stay Safe.

Stay Safe MN will still ask people to stay close to home and limit travel to what’s essential. But we can now gather with friends and family in groups of 10 or less.

In all cases, we are asking Minnesotans not to gather in large groups. All gatherings—whether a backyard barbecue or a religious meeting at a church, synagogue, or mosque—are limited to 10 and require social distancing.

Don’t get me wrong. We believe that the safest place you can be is at home, but we know we cannot continue like this forever. So we are gradually making turns on both the business and social dials in order to slowly and safely reopen society.

This situation is fluid. There’s much we still don’t know about this virus, and as I said previously, we must be prepared to dial back if needed. We will continue to follow the guidance of public health experts and make data-driven decisions.

We will monitor the rate of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. If there are sudden rate increases or a potential spike, we will move the dial back quickly and strategically.

Whenever we make any movement to ease restrictions, we must protect the safety of those returning to work.

Our state’s health care workers, emergency responders, and other professionals are doing their jobs under demanding and stressful conditions to provide services to Minnesotans.

These front-line workers – and their patients, coworkers, and family members – are at heightened risk.

As even more Minnesotans head back to work in these settings, we must protect their safety and dignity.

That is why I signed an Executive Order today to ensure workers can raise concerns regarding the safety of their work environments without fear of discrimination or retaliation.

As there is more interaction between people, we must protect those in our communities that are most vulnerable to the virus. That is why I also signed an Executive Order today to strongly encourage Minnesotans at greatest risk of serious illness to continue staying home.

We know the virus rides hardest on people who already have health challenges. People who have lung and heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or weakened immune systems are more likely to end up in the hospital if they get COVID-19.

We know this virus is especially lethal for our elderly. It has already stolen the lives of so many of our Greatest Generation.

We must do everything in our power to protect our older Minnesotans. Last week, we announced a Five Point Battle Plan to protect our senior Minnesotans and keep this virus at bay in thousands of our long-term care facilities.

And now we are asking people who have underlying conditions and who are over 65 years old to take extra precautions. We are not requiring it, but it is strongly encouraged that if you are able to stay home – continue to stay home.

For those of you who we are asking to continue to self-isolate, we are committing to keep you connected to the services, food support and companionship that you will need to stay well.

We all have seniors or friends with health challenges in our lives. Take the time to reach out to them. A phone call, a card in the mail, or a quick text can make all the difference.

We also know the virus feeds on existing inequalities. This public health crisis is exacerbating the racial, economic, and geographic inequities that have been here all along.

According to the data, disproportionate number of African Americans are testing positive for COVID-19. Since the pandemic struck a third of the Native American work force is newly unemployed.

We must not look away from this reality, and we must plan for and lift up every Minnesotan in our response to COVID-19. We leave no one behind.

Whether our workers, our elderly, our medically vulnerable, or our communities of color and indigenous communities, we will look out for you. Let me be clear: no life is disposable.

Minnesotans, I’ve told you what we are doing on our part. Now we need you to do yours.

It has never been more important for you to look out for your neighbor.

We are still in the heart of this pandemic, and this can go in a bad direction very quickly.

We must keep this virus at a “simmer,” and not a “boil.”

As a former teacher, I care a lot about report cards. A little more than a month ago our state received an “A” grade in social distancing. Last week, the state was given a “D”. This is unacceptable.

Minnesotans, we pride ourselves for exceptionalism. We love to be the best at things. And one of those things we are best at is looking out for our neighbors.

We can, must, and will do better.

I asked you to Stay Home. You did and in doing so, you saved lives. Now I am asking you to Stay Safe.

We are counting on Minnesotans to take personal responsibility for their own health and the health of their community.

Stay Safe means work from home if you can. Wear masks when you go out to shop. Stay close to home if you have to travel. Gather only in groups of 10 or less. Keep at least 6 feet apart from each other. Get tested if you have symptoms – and Stay Home if you are sick.

I am asking you to continue to take these precautions to protect your own health and the health of the people around you. It’s never been more clear how connected we are and how our individual decisions impact the lives of others.

We’ve turned the dial on businesses. We’ve turned the dial on social life. We are doing that because we are trusting people to Stay Safe by making smart choices.

However, we know that this will mean more people will get sick and some will end up in the hospital. We have prepared for that inevitability.

We have increased ICU beds and ventilators for those who get really sick. We have masks, gowns and gloves for the health care workers who will have to take care of them.

We have strategies for protecting those most vulnerable to COVID – those in nursing homes and those experiencing homelessness.

We have plans for eliminating hot spots when the virus impacts workers in place like food processing plants.

But we have work to do. Work that we all must do. We must continue to slow the spread of the virus.

We will test people and find out where the virus is spreading. When people learn they have the virus they have to stay home so they do not spread it.

We have to ease back into doing business – but not the way we used to. Employers have to implement new protections for employees and customers.

We all have to remain cautious for our own health and the health of our neighbors.

So yes, the Stay at Home order is expiring and the dials are turning. But that does not mean we are care free or can return to the way things were.

 It means we have to Stay Safe and take care – care of our own health and care for our community.

Many of you have selflessly chosen to stay home and forgo celebrating important milestones or taking long planned trips in order to slow the spread of the virus.

Others have changed how you worship, work, study, exercise, and connect with friends and family.

 And many more of you have lost jobs, closed doors on businesses and experienced real financial hardship as the virus has limited where we can gather and how we can do business.

 I am grateful for all of those sacrifices and I am sorry for all the disruption and hardship the response to the pandemic has required.

At each turn we’ve tried to ease the economic impact of the virus with unemployment payments, business loans, and income and food supports.

We know that in many cases it isn’t enough. We are grateful to the generosity of foundations and individuals who are helping families fill in the gaps of rent, food, and child care costs.

I am proud of how Minnesotans have stepped up for each other, both by staying home and reaching out to those in need. Whether it is by sewing and donating face masks, contributing to food shelves, or practicing social distancing, we need all of you to continue to put the care and safety of others at the front of your mind.

Do not charge forward as everything is normal.

Unfortunately, we aren’t through winter yet.

These last several weeks have been difficult, and it will only get harder.

But we will get through. We are resilient people with a deep reserve of courage, optimism, and grit.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. 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 continues to do so today.

Minnesotans, we will get through this—just as we have every other challenge—together.

 

Thank you.

Good evening. Stay safe, Minnesota.

 

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Walz Set to Announce Future of Peacetime State of Emergency

Minnesota Politics

Tonight, much of Minnesota is likely to tune into listen what Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) intends regarding the peacetime state of emergency. At 6:00 pm, he is expected to extend it for the third and final time, without legislative approval, but with continued variations applied to various businesses. We will expect to see some movement of the dials, while these numbers continue to climb, 11,799 are known to have contracted COVID-19, and 695 people have died. This is a 5.89% mortality rate.

In his release they state the following: Today, Wednesday, May 13, 2020, Governor Tim Walz will address Minnesotans live to discuss the state’s next steps to combat COVID-19. Members of the press should plan to cover the event remotely by watching the briefing on the Governor’s YouTube Live page here.* Following that broadcast, the Governor will host a press call to answer questions.

Minnesota has consistently moved downward in grade as the order to stay at home continues. We started with a B grade in March and now have fallen to a D grade in May. Additional pressure is being applied from the Republican controlled State Senate to reopen different businesses to at minimum create parity for smaller mom and pop shops to compete with the big box stores. If we pay attention to the mortality rate, we still have not achieved the protections afforded from social distancing or staying at home because not everyone is complying. Masks are not mandatory, people are gathering sporadically, and the powers of the government are being questions and protests have ensued where the participants flaunt their adherence to the provisions intended to protect them.

It is just pathetic that wearing or not masks is now a sign of partisanship.

There is also a strong difference of opinion when it comes to legislation. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) questioned support for the negotiated State Employee Contract, “These are unprecedented times that call for unprecedented solutions,…I appreciate that your contracts were negotiated in good faith last year before anyone could imagine the damage a virus could do to our economy and the state budget. I believe state employees deserve the raises and benefit increases included in these contracts. But in light of recent events, the proposed contracts are not sustainable and if approved as is will lead to greater employee layoffs next year. I don’t want that to happen.” Tomorrow, the Senate will take up the HF 2796 (Koran) Law Enforcement Association Labor Agreement and will also address the A-1 amendment which ratifies the state contracts without the 2.5 % increase this year.

Additionally, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown) threatened to block the Bonding Bill if Walz extends the peacetime emergency declaration.

But the senate also passed SF4481, a provision for Small business emergency grants grants and loans appropriation; Minnesota 21st century minerals fund reimbursement; budget reserve forecast calculation adjustment; fund receiving small business loan repayments modification. The bill passed with 59-7 bipartisan votes. While on Monday, the House passed HF1507, COVID-19 Economic Security Act established, loans modified during public health emergency, small business loans and grants provided, grants provided for expanding broadband and telemedicine, housing assistance provided, personal care assistance services expanded, personal care assistant rates increased, penalties provided, and money appropriated. Which passed on a partisan vote of 75-58.

This shows the two bodies have a far different perspective on legislation. The DFLers in the house will support actions by the senate to assist people, but instead of tax relief and other mechanisms other than direct payments are not welcome. The DFL believes they can pay for their provisions through money allocated from the federal government, but the feds have not as yet provided money to assist states specifically, just to support federal programs like the Personal Protect Provisions in the Small Business Administration.

Three Incumbent DFLers Fail to Secure Endorsement

Minnesota Politics

When people lose a DFL endorsement fight they often make claims against the process, shenanigans, or inappropriate actions by their opponents to propel them into a primary contest, especially incumbents. On Friday, Senate Assistant Majority Leader Jeff Hayden (DFL-62, Minneapolis) lost endorsement by 72.4% to Omar Fateh (DFL-62, Minneapolis) on the first ballot. Rep Raymond Dehn (DFL-59B, Minneapolis lost to Esther Agbaje (DFL-59A, Minneapolis) on the third ballot. On Saturday, Sen Erik Simonson (DFL-07, Duluth) lost to Jennifer McEwen (DFL-07, Duluth) by 70.35% also on the first ballot.

If a primary fight ensues it will be interesting to see how much support the incumbents receive from their caucus. On the senate side now that the leadership has changed Sen Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook) to Sen Susan Kent (DFL-53, Woodbury) it will be interesting to see what signal is sent. As an existing member of the legislative body, an incumbent has a relationship not just with their constituency, but also their respective caucus. As a dues paying member this affords them access to tools usually reserved for party favored candidates, but the situation gets sketchy when as a caucus member you fail to find favor with the party activists in your constituency.

Hayden and Simonson had close ties to Bakk. Hayden faces a changing district and the increase in the Somali voting bloc. Fateh is proposing a far more aggressive left-leaning agenda. Simonson is guilty of seeking another position when he sought an appointment to the Public Utilities Commission, and he is not seen as progressive as his district and hence the reason for his loss. In Dehn’s case he has been conscious of the fact the demographics are changing and he as a Caucasian male do not match up. It’s clear with his 2nd place bid for Minneapolis Mayor showed he also sought another opportunity, which may have cost him.

It maybe time for a step back into Minnesota senate elections history.

Those with more than thirty years in DFL politics will likely remember the Sen Don Frank (DFL-Fridley) and Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley) endorsement fight of 1992. Betzold challenged Frank In 1990, during the stub election and secured the DFL endorsement largely on their differences on abortion, Betzold (pro-choice) and Frank (anti-choice), but lost to Frank in the primary. At the time he contended the DFL Caucus supported Frank, when they should not have, but in this case Frank as the incumbent and a member of the DFL Caucus, while Betzold was not. This changed in 1992, when Betzold beat Frank in the Primary and much pressure was applied to keep the DFL Caucus out of the fight.

Quotes from the 2020 Deficit Communications

Minnesota Report

In his release following the $2.5 billion deficit through 2021 announcement the following is attributed to Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN).

  • “Today’s budget outlook confirms what we suspected: COVID-19 will badly damage Minnesota’s economy.”
  • “As I said during my State of the State address, there is a long winter ahead. COVID-19 is upending life as we know it—and our economy will not be spared.”
  • “This will mean shared sacrifice among all of us. Hard decisions will be made.”
  • “But thanks to smart budgeting, Minnesota is in a much better position than other states to weather the storm. We must not undercut what got us there: Investing in our children. Expanding access to health care. Putting Minnesotans first.”
  • “These last few weeks have been difficult, and it’s only going to get harder.”
  • “It is more important than ever that we lead with our values and protect Minnesota’s quality of life.”
  • “Minnesotans will look out for one another. We will help each other back on our feet. We will get through this winter—together—and we will see spring.”

The joint statement from Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-36B, Brooklyn Park) and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-46A, Golden Valley) on budget projection reads as follows.

“While we expected the state’s financial picture to worsen, I am relieved that the size of the projected deficit was not larger,” said Speaker Hortman. “Thanks to prudent financial management of the state’s resources by the executive and legislative branches over the past decade, Minnesota has enough resources in the budget reserve and the cash flow accounts to weather the downturn. I’m pleased Minnesota has received $1.87 billion in federal aid, which allows us to take measures to provide economic security to Minnesotans to help them get through the COVID-19 downturn. Investments are needed to make Minnesotans secure in their housing, help small businesses, facilitate distance learning and telemedicine, and to ensure we have the workforce we need to provide care for the elderly and people with disabilities. The federal assistance allows us to make these needed investments, while our state’s savings will cover our expected dip in revenue.”

“Minnesota has the resources we need to address this crisis; we just need the will to act,” said Majority Leader Winkler. “We must stay the course to reduce the impact of COVID-19, save lives, and help Minnesotans get through the storm. Minnesotans need investments in the things that will help them make it through this crisis and thrive after it, including quality health care, economic security, a good education, and safe and healthy communities.”

In response, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) countered with the following.

“The state is going to have less money next year. About $4 billion less. That falls on the shoulders of the legislature to manage. We are doing everything we can to limit the negative financial impact of COVID, but it’s clear a holding pattern is not enough.

“Today the Senate Rules Committee implemented a salary freeze for our own employees. We will likely impose a hiring freeze this month as well. The next most responsible move for state government is to renegotiate the second year of state employee contracts so thousands of state workers won’t face layoffs from budget shortfalls in the 2021 budget. We need to say, “no” to any new spending increases that won’t be reimbursed by the federal COVID relief funds or help us reopen the economy. And we must exercise caution when it comes to the bonding bill because every $100 million in borrowing costs the state $142.72 million in debt service over the next 20 years.

“Most importantly, we need to open the economy to revenues that fund essential government services. That’s why we’ve asked Mike Vekich and other top thinkers to work on this now as part of the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Taskforce.

“At the end of the day, we need to be able to look into the eyes of the small business owner and the laid-off worker and tell them state government is making sacrifices too. Empathy is not enough. Actions speak louder than words.”

Additionally, Sen Julie Rosen (R-23, Vernon Center) is quoted, “Thankfully, our smart budgeting over the last several years has put the state in a good position to weather the economic side of this crisis in the short term, but not if we continue our current approach. We have to take the coronavirus seriously, but we cannot ignore the economic devastation. The House should pass the Senate’s Tax Relief and Economic Recovery package to help farmers, businesses, and workers get through this, and we should get businesses back up and running – but with safety and health as our top priority.”

A Restart for Elective Surgeries

Minnesota Report

Here is information on the release for restart of elective surgeries.

Governor Tim Walz today signed Executive Order 20-51, providing a roadmap for safely restarting elective surgeries. Starting next week, doctors, dentists, and veterinarians who create a plan to keep patients and healthcare professionals safe may begin offering these procedures, which can treat chronic conditions, prevent and cure disease, and relieve chronic pain

Executive Order 20-51 will allow hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and clinics – whether veterinary, medical, or dental – to resume many currently-delayed procedures once facilities have developed criteria for determining which procedures should proceed during the COVID-19 pandemic and provided a plan to maintain a safe environment for facility staff, patients, and visitors.

“Minnesota has made significant progress in building up critical resources to combat COVID-19,” said Governor Walz. “We’re proud that this progress will allow our medical professionals to safely resume certain procedures to keep Minnesotans healthy and improve their quality of life.”

“We remain committed to preserving and acquiring protective equipment to protect our front-line employees from COVID-19,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “But health conditions haven’t been put on hold during this pandemic. This action will help Minnesotans get care for chronic pain, treat and prevent disease, and address their health concerns.”

Executive Orders 20-09 and 20-17 delayed non-essential and elective surgeries, consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allowing health care facilities to preserve resources and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Since these Executive Orders were issued, Minnesota has made and continues to make significant headway in securing additional personal protective equipment and improving testing and hospital surge capacity.

Although postponement of non-essential or elective procedures has proven to be an effective means of preserving essential healthcare resources for the COVID-19 response, Minnesota Department of Health guidance recognizes that extended delays in the provision of certain care may pose substantial risks to patients. Non-essential or elective procedures are often clinically necessary to treat chronic pain and conditions, or to prevent, cure, or slow the progression of diseases.

This Executive Order is effective immediately upon approval by the Minnesota Executive Council.

The Republican response came from Senate Deputy Majority leader Michelle Benson (R-31, Ham Lake), highlighting the letter sent to Walz on this matter last week.

“The governor’s order offers a ray of light to the people who have been waiting for necessary medical care,” said Senator Benson. “Countless hospital staff have been furloughed, leaving our healthcare system vulnerable, hundreds of citizens without work, and many care centers at risk of permanent closure. The first two weeks of the order were necessary for pandemic preparation – stocking up on PPE and increasing ICU bed capacity. We reached those milestones quickly, but restrictions on elective care continued, causing immense damage. I am pleased that Minnesotans can finally look forward to getting their physical pain and worry relieved, and healthcare professionals can return to their vocations.”

COVID Terms of Art

Minnesota Report

In politics, it is frequently the case where some word, phrase or acronym is created to short handedly refer to a department, program or event. Sen Mary Kiffmeyer (R-30, Big Lake) has taken to calling different times BC, AC and MC. BC=before COVID, AC=after COVID and MC=mid COVID.

Its clear the world was a different place before COVID and the standard practices did not incorporate social distancing or stay at home orders. Mid COVID being where we are now is a timeframe determining what will be and successful strategies to approach this pandemic are being deployed to address the crisis. The interesting question will be what the post pandemic period will be like. After COVID, will result in many changes to our institutions and the virtualization of our traditional practices, methods and procedures will change dramatically.

The loss of the handshake, which was employ to prove the hand was empty, without a weapon, became a practice in western society and now go the way of the dinosaur. Many men are comfortable with a head nod. The all day, week long class schedule for students may also be threatened and the need for huge campuses may become less of a factor as a reduction in class sizes are forced to comply with public health codes in the short-run and other pressures going forward. This will mean parents of school aged children will be forced to find alternative childcare resources, and also could foster another industry for teaching, or it might result in a strict division of existing institutions into morning and afternoon settings with a set one-way path from place to place being firmly applied.

The main point being, AC will be significantly changed from BC.

MN Budget 2020 Now Projected Deficit

Minnesota Report

The following was posted on the MN Management & Budget website.

May Interim Budget Projection

Minnesota’s budget and economic outlook has significantly worsened since the coronavirus pandemic. A deficit of $2.426 billion is now projected for the current biennium, which is almost a $4 billion change compared to the February forecast. Revenues are expected to be $3.611 billion lower and spending, including appropriations enacted since February, is expected to be $391 million higher. The $2.359 billion budget reserve remains available to mitigate the budgetary impact of the crisis. Given the uncertainty about the path of pandemic, the economic outlook will remain volatile for some time.

http://mn.gov/mmb/mmbhome/index.jsp?id=1059-430876

Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) has a scheduled press opportunity at 2:00 pm including Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans; Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm; and Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly.

Here is the release.

Governor Walz to Provide Update on State’s Response to COVID-19, Budget Projection

Today, Tuesday, May 5, 2020, Governor Tim Walz and Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans will provide an update on the State’s response to COVID-19 and discuss the new budget projection. A small, predetermined press pool has agreed to cover the event in person in order to ask questions and take photos that will be made available afterwards. All other members of the press should plan to cover the event remotely by watching the briefing on the Governor’s YouTube Live page here.*

MN NFIB: New Curbside Pickup and Delivery Options Still Put Small Business at Disadvantage

Minnesota Report

We received the following release from NFIB State Director Mike Hickey in response to Governor Tim Walz’ (DFL-MN) partial opening of retail business establishing curbside pick-up and delivery.

 

Minnesota’s leading small business group, the National Federation of Independent Business, is calling today’s Executive Order from Governor Walz a disappointment.

“So much more could have been done to level the playing field between small retailers and large box stores. Customers have been allowed to shop at big box stores, while small mom and pop shops have been forced to close their doors. The curbside pickup and delivery allowed under today’s order is certainly a positive first step, but the Governor could have done more to help small businesses. Other states are allowing customers to enter small retail shops – and so should Minnesota. Guidelines and limitations, on the number of customers allowed per square foot, and compliance with social distancing requirements are a far better and more equitable solution than what was announced today. Small business owners remain at a huge disadvantage in Minnesota. It’s unfair that small retailers are limited to curbside pickup and delivery while large corporations can operate with very limited and voluntary restrictions.”

The immediate need for financial support for small businesses cannot be overstated. In an earlier survey (March 30), about half of small business owners said they would not be able to continue business operations under current economic conditions for more than 2 months. Small business owners are depleting their savings and other resources to hold on to valuable employees until they receive their loan(s). The longer it takes until loans are deposited, small business owners will increasingly adjust business operations and layoff additional employees in order to survive.

Walz Scheduled to Announce Next Steps Forward

Minnesota Report

Today, at 2:00 pm Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) will announce his decisions regarding the extension or ending of the stay-at-home order. Walz has announced the Stay-at-Home order is extended and bars and restaurants will remain closed until May18th, retail locations can start curbside deliveries on May 11th. Mask wearing is strongly encourage in grocery settings. His main point is, “Continue what you’re doing.” To date, there are 5136 cases in Minnesota with 343 deaths.

The principles used for making the determination.

  • Develop and publicly post a plan for how to open safely.
  • Use online payment whenever possible.
  • Employees and customers should wear masks and protective equipment.
  • In curbside pick-up scenarios, social distancing guidelines apply. If possible, customers should not leave their vehicle.
  • In delivery scenarios, items should be deposited outside a customer’s residence.

Tomorrow, Thursday, April 30, 2020, Governor Tim Walz will provide an update on the Stay Home Order and the State of Minnesota’s next steps to combat COVID-19. A small, predetermined press pool has agreed to cover the event in person in order to ask questions and take photos that will be made available afterwards. All other members of the press should plan to cover the event remotely by watching the briefing on the Governor’s YouTube Live page here.*

In addition to Walz; Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm; Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove; and Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly will be in attendance.

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...

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Showing Democrats Can Lead

National Report House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA06) is in a uniquely favorable position in this time of crisis, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-KY) is unable to advance items off of the Senate floor due to the self-quarantine of fine Republican US...

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