The 2020 legislative session officially ended on Sunday at midnight. This year’s session was largely dominated by the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Because of social distancing guidelines, the legislature moved to a mostly virtual setting for the first time ever. Committee meetings were held via video conference and members voted remotely, over the phone, when legislation came to the House floor.

In the final weekend of session, the legislature approved bills related to transportation, public safety, local government, and more. As has been the case in recent years, there are still a handful of bills that need to be worked out in a special session including a bonding bill and a tax bill that ideally will address Section 179 conformity.

Remember, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the state is now facing a $2.4 billion budget deficit. Difficult decisions will need to be made in the coming weeks and months to address our new economic reality as we balance our budget.

I expect a special session to take place sometime in June to address these issues.

Additional Guidance for Businesses

The state’s Stay at Home order officially expired this week. Beginning Monday, retail stores, malls, and other main street businesses were able to reopen if they have a safety plan in place that will help keep employees and customers safe. These stores are now able to operate at no more than 50 percent occupancy.

On Wednesday, we received additional information from the Governor’s office on steps restaurants, salons, and other public accommodations can take to reopen by June 1st.

Here is a brief rundown of the Governor’s new guidance on reopening:

Restaurants: Outdoor service only, maximum of 50 customers, masks required, six feet distance.

Personal Services (salons, tattoos, barbershops): Six feet distance, maximum 25% of capacity, masks required.

Churches: Services of 10 people or less indoors and outdoors, drive-up services allowed.

Campgrounds: Open with guidance

Gyms, personal fitness, yoga: CLOSED

Entertainment (bowling, movie theaters, arcades): CLOSED

You can read more at https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/stay-safe-mn/stay-safe-plan.jsp

I’m disappointed as many businesses simply can’t survive until June 1. It doesn’t make sense to allow hundreds of people in the aisles of big box stores while limiting churches to 10 people, or that salons are allowed to reopen but restaurants are restricted to outdoor service. We must trust our businesses to protect the health and safety of customers and employees.

Letter to Attorney General

I am disturbed by recent news reports that Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office has been contacting small businesses threatening them with a fine of up to $25,000 if they defy the Governor’s executive order that has forced so many of them to close.

In response to this, I joined my House Republican colleagues and sent a letter to Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office asking him to reconsider these actions.

You can read the letter at https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/goppdf/38983b16-7dd1-457a-b29b-10d4d9ca3ac4.pdf

The Attorney General’s office has better things to do then to financially threaten Minnesotans who have gone without a paycheck for nearly two months.

For two months, our Main Streets have been empty as a result of government-mandated closures. The reality is when a Main Street business in rural Minnesota shuts down, it likely never reopens.

Veterans Virtual Career Fair

If you are a veteran looking for work, there is a Veterans Virtual Career Fair next Thursday, May 28, from 1pm-3pm. The career fair will focus on jobs in the healthcare industry, and is open to Veterans, transitioning service members, currently serving Reserve and National Guard, family members of Veterans, and caregivers of Veterans. To read more about this event and register at https://www.careerforcemn.com/events/530928/virtual-career-fair.

Staying in Touch

Please continue to reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-8237 or via email at rep.brian.daniels@house.mn.

Rep. Brian Daniels, R-Faribault, is the state representative for District 24B, which includes Medford, Ellendale and much of rural Steele County. He can be reached by phone at 651-296-8237 or via email at rep.brian.daniels@house.mn.

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