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Legislative Update: April 6

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 6, 2020

Another unprecedented week of action at the Minnesota Legislature as social distancing requirements forced legislators to adapt to new working realities. The House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee had the Legislature’s first ever remote hearing last week to learn more about remote hearings and how to utilize them while meeting in person remains problematic. The House has now scheduled several remote hearings for Committees to address COVID-19 related legislation. The Senate has also started working remotely having established a COVID-19 Response Working Group that had its first meeting on Friday.

The Legislature was scheduled to be on recess until April 14th, but over the weekend announced House and Senate Floor Sessions on Tuesday in order to pass a bill related to workers compensation for first responders. The bill will establish a presumption that if a first responder contracts COVID-19 that it was contracted on the job and will be covered by workers comp. This is an issue the Governor had requested the Legislature tackle to avoid having it addressed via executive order. After the Legislature acts on the workers compensation for first responders we expect them to once again adjourn until April 14th, although remote hearings will continue as scheduled.

As state and federal leaders continue to respond to slow the spread of Coronavirus, the economic impact preventative measure have had are coming into sharper focus. Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans appeared (remotely) in front of the Senate COVID-19 Response Working Group on Monday to discuss the dramatic impact the virus response has had on Minnesota’s economic outlook. While hard numbers are still premature, the steep drop off in sales tax receipts will sharply alter the state’s financial footing. Commissioner Frans indicated the MMB will undertake preparing a full economic forecast earlier than normal in order to provide some clarity as to just how bad things will get. Preliminary modeling indicates the state could be looking at a sizable deficit when we get to fiscal year 2021, a far cry from the projected $1.5 billion surplus we had after the last forecast in February.

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