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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Shane Mekeland (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, May 1, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

I hope you are well. The big news this week is the governor extended the stay-at-home order (which was set to expire Monday) to May 18. His extension does include some added leeway for retail businesses to open with restrictions. The main change is that retail and other non-critical businesses may begin offering curbside pick-up.

That’s not enough to lift the burden. People are desperate to start earning a living again, especially the mom-and-pop shops. Throughout this shutdown, I have said it is an injustice that our smaller retailers were forced to close their doors while the governor allowed the big-box stores to stay open.

Our local retailers cannot afford to wait any longer. Curbside service is OK, but this still leaves them at a disadvantage compared with the foot traffic their larger competitors can welcome.

When will the governor realize this has gone on long enough and really let people get back to work?

We are armed with information and best practices procedures to help us re-open while continuing to place a premium on the health and safety of Minnesotans. Some people may not be comfortable patronizing small businesses and that is OK. But, for those who do want to visit those shops, let’s safely re-open Minnesota for business.

House Republicans are in constant contact with employees, employers, agencies, and the governor's office making real efforts to help Minnesota businesses safely reopen their doors. And, all House Republicans voted again earlier this week to allow the legislature to work with the governor on future actions to fight COVID-19 and let businesses safely reopen their doors so people can get back to work.

Unfortunately, that proposal once again was blocked. The House majority apparently is fine sitting on its hands while Republicans are rolling up their sleeves to help get our economy moving again. Until that changes the reality is the governor’s emergency powers will remain in place.

‘Elective’ surgeries

While there was news today regarding some stay-at-home restrictions, we also were hoping for modifications of the executive order on elective medical procedures. Dozens of House and Senate Republicans sent a letter to Gov. Walz earlier this week, asking him to lift restrictions on health care providers. We apparently will have to wait a little longer for more on that important subject, but here is a way you can provide input:

The Minnesota Department of Health has assembled draft guidance that will help inform the next steps. Draft guidance will be available online through noon Saturday (May 2) to solicit feedback and input before final guidance is issued. The draft guidance and public comment survey can be accessed here.

Action on processing plants

With the closure of multiple meat processing plants in Minnesota and across the Midwest halting production, a number of Republican state lawmakers sent a letter to President Trump urging immediate action to prevent major disruptions to our food supply, farm bankruptcies, job losses, and devastating impacts on rural economies that are already struggling. The president issued an order late Tuesday compelling plants to re-open. Here is more on that.

On a side note, I have seen great anecdotes of citizens stepping up to buy meat directly from farmers, at the very least sparing waste. Hats off to people who have stepped in to help.

Take care, stay healthy and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.



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