ST. PAUL — With the emergence of COVID-19, this year’s legislative session focus quickly shifted to directly addressing the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19. While some beneficial measures were passed into law, many solutions to deliver a brighter future for Minnesotans did not advance.
“I’m proud to have been a part of this session, although it was different than any I’ve experienced in my years at the Legislature,” said Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji. “While we were able to come together to get important work done, there’s more to be done to protect Minnesotans’ health and economic wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future. I remain committed to putting people before politics and strengthening the outlook for Northern Minnesota.”
Many of the session’s accomplishments relate to the state’s COVID-19 response. The Legislature delivered funding for public health, resources for health care workers, aid for child care, housing and food security, small business assistance and more. Lawmakers also approved a package of legislation providing flexibility and resources in a variety of areas during the crisis, including approval of wills and marriage licenses, expanded telemedicine, remote local government meetings, and alternative health care facilities. Should a frontline responder to the virus contract COVID-19, legislators also reached a consensus to better ensure these Minnesotans would receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Gov. Tim Walz also signed other important measures into law, including the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act, the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, Tobacco 21 legislation to prevent youth tobacco use, and a bipartisan bill to protect the safety and security of elections.
Unfortunately, bipartisan agreement wasn’t reached on other key priorities important to Minnesotans and their communities, including a robust jobs and local projects plan, a measure to ensure hourly school employees receive compensation during the peacetime emergency, the ratification of state worker contracts, and a COVID-19 Economic Security Agenda, including investments in broadband infrastructure.
Rep. Persell and House DFLers remain committed to enacting these important solutions to protect Minnesotans’ health, wellbeing, and economic security.
Following adjournment, the House Select Committee on Minnesota’s Pandemic Response and Rebuilding will continue addressing COVID-19, engaging lawmakers and members of the public to review the federal and state responses to the pandemic and assess needed policy changes moving forward.