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.