Greetings from the Floor,
Although no floor sessions took place this week, the House continued its work with remote committee hearings. The most notable bills were HF4541 in the Housing Finance and Policy Division, and an amended version of HF1507 in the Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division. HF4541 would put a moratorium on all evictions and foreclosures in the state during Gov. Walz’s declared peacetime emergency. The bill would also appropriate $100 million to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency for emergency rent or mortgage payments if people can’t make their payments after May 1 because of economic hardship due to COVID-19. The amended version of HF1507 would appropriate an additional $50 million for small business emergency loans.
Gov. Walz made three major announcements this week. The first is that the state is partnering with the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic to greatly increase Minnesota’s coronavirus testing capabilities. Secondly, some businesses will be able to re-open beginning on Monday. Lastly, the governor announced that schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year, and distance learning will continue.
The testing partnership will increase the state’s testing capacity to 20,000 per day with an additional 15,000 serology tests per day. This is a major step in getting our economy up and running again. The increased ability to run COVID-19 tests will help us understand how prevalent the virus is in Minnesota, identify those who are carrying the virus but are asymptomatic and establish who has antibodies.
The businesses that will be able to re-open on Monday are some industrial/manufacturing and office-based businesses that don’t have contact with outside customers. These businesses will have to take some precautionary steps as they re-open, and more information can be found at mn.gov/deed/safework. These precautionary steps are:
Despite the continued closing of schools, these are some excellent developments that Minnesota continues to win in the fight against the coronavirus. We can’t move too fast though and expect COVID-19 will be gone tomorrow. I trust Gov. Walz in his leadership of the state, and the decisions he’s making with the information and guidance he’s receiving from experts. I truly believe that his actions to date have saved lives and prevented more cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. We have to be smart about this. Schools staying closed is a reminder that this is not over. We must move forward with caution and continue to pay attention to the trends of the coronavirus and its potential spread through the state. I hope the worst is over for Minnesota; however, we can’t become complacent. We need to be prepared to take action if things turn for the worst. I don’t want to sour the news of progress, but we can’t portray a reality of the virus that doesn’t exist. The coronavirus will dictate its own reality; we must respect that and be prepared for it. For now, let’s appreciate this good news and know that we are staying on top of the pandemic.
Thank You for the Opportunity to Serve,
PO Box 612, Moorhead, MN 56561