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Legislative Update: March 16

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 16, 2020
The spread of the Coronavirus and the call for “social distancing” to slow the spread is resulting in dramatic changes to our governmental institutions.  State Legislative leaders from both political parties are meeting together to establish the framework for their work going forward.  The Legislature is scheduled to continue its work though Monday, May 18th.  However, as of today, Legislative leaders announced that they will be operating with a limited calendar for at least the next month.  

From March 16th to April 14th, there will not be a Standing Calendar of Floor and Committee Meetings. Action by the full House and Senate and by Committees will be on an “as needed” basis.  

“Social distancing” will be provided for both during Floor Action and in any Committee hearing that may be scheduled.  For example, if the House schedules a Floor Debate, the Membership will be spread across the House Floor and in the House Gallery.  Additional Members will be remote from the Floor in the Caucus gathering rooms for the Democrats and Republicans which are one floor below the House Chambers.  If a Member from a remote location is a leading spokesperson on a particular issue, they would replace a Member who is seated on the Floor in order to participate in the debate.  

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Melissa Hortman have indicated that they expect the Legislature will deal with a very limited number of issues between now and when the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn in May. They have agreed to respond to proposals which would relate directly to the state response to the Coronavirus. There is strong interest in passing a Bonding Bill so that there are infrastructure projects which will provide employment opportunities in the months ahead. There may also be a Tax Bill that would include provisions which may stimulate local economies. Beyond those items, we expect there will be little that the Legislature will attempt to take on in the face of the response to the coronavirus.  

Governor Walz released his supplemental budget last week and elected to keep the vast majority of the state’s surplus unspent so it may be utilized as needed to continue to respond to the ongoing situation. This decision will likely result in little to no supplemental spending this year on anything outside of addressing the Coronavirus response.

We will continue to monitor the Legislature as we all work through these uncertain times together.

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