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April 10, 2020

Stay at Home Executive Order Extension 

On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, Gov. Walz issued Executive Order 20-33 which extended the duration of two previous orders until May 4, 2020. Specifically, E.O. 20-33 extends Walz’s order directing Minnesotans to stay-at-home (E.O. 20-20) and his order closing bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation (E.O. 20-04). Both orders were previously set to expire on Friday, April 10, 2020.

In announcing the issuance of E.O. 20-33, the Governor also stated his desire to focus efforts on “response, recovery, and resources” in an attempt to push the COVID-19 peak to July.  The Governor has directed state commissioners to identify additional safe industries to exempt from the stay-at-home order in hopes of allowing as many businesses as possible to reopen as soon as possible. His Executive Order extending the stay-at-home order did expressly allow some businesses, including landscaping and other outdoor-focused industries, to reopen. A copy of 20-33 can be found here.

State of the State 

On Sunday, April 5, 2020, Gov. Walz gave his State of the State address from an unusual location; the basement of the Governor’s Residence. Customarily delivered to a joint session of the Minnesota Legislature, this year the Governor addressed the state from his home via a live video stream. 

Stating that unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions, the Governor’s address, which only lasted 12 minutes, focused entirely on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Walz highlighted the various actions taken by his administration and the Minnesota Legislature in response to the crisis. Comparing the current situation to “a winter like we’ve never seen before,” Gov. Walz thanked Minnesotans for their resilience, courage, optimism, and grit. He went on to say that defeating this outbreak will take preparation, leadership, and action from all Minnesotans.

The Governor wrapped up his short address with a commitment that the state government will do everything possible to get Minnesota and its businesses back on their feet and concluded by thanking Minnesotans for their unity, humanity, and gratitude towards each other during this unprecedented moment. A recording of Gov. Walz’s remarks can be found here.


Workers Compensation for First Responders and Care Providers

On April 7, 2020, the Minnesota Legislature passed HF 4537 (Wolgamott/Howe) which created a rebuttable presumption that any first responder, health care worker, or health care facility support staff that contracts COVID-19 while working in an environment serving individuals with COVID-19 is subsequently eligible for workers compensation benefits. The measure was a result of significant negotiations between business and labor organizations in recent weeks. In response, Gov. Walz praised the bipartisan work from members of each of the four caucuses in reaching an agreement. The bill was signed into law later in the day and became effective Wednesday.

Emergency Insulin

A small group of Minnesota lawmakers have been working behind the scenes since the end of the 2019 legislative session to create an emergency insulin program for diabetics who cannot afford their insulin. On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, legislative leadership announced a tentative deal that represented a compromise between the disparate approaches previously taken by the Senate Republicans and House Democrats. The following day the ten-member conference committee presented and adopted the compromise language.

The compromise language seeks to ensure that if someone is in need of emergency insulin, they can get a 30-day supply immediately from a pharmacy. Copays for emergency supplies are capped at $35. Insulin manufactures would subsequently reimburse pharmacies or replace the product distributed by pharmacies as a condition of the license to distribute in Minnesota. The bill also requires that any manufacturer that distributes into Minnesota maintain a longer-term patient assistance program that meets state standards.

Companies that fail to do so or that fail to meet certain reporting requirements contained in the proposal would face fines starting at $3.6 million (first year) and $7.2 million (second year). It is expected this agreement will be taken to the floor when the Legislature returns from a shortened Passover/Easter recess on April 14.  

States Economic Outlook post 

On Monday, April 6, 2020 the Senate held a COVID-19 Working Group remote hearing on the state budget outlook from Minnesota’s Management and Budget (“MMB”) Commissioner Myron Frans. Joined by the state economist Dr. Laura Kalambokidis, Commissioner Frans outlined challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis, including increased state spending with shrinking revenue, undefined federal reimbursement funds, high UI claims, and other unforeseen expenditures. He also cautioned that the quarterly budget report set to be released on April 10 will have too many unknowns to be particularly reliable.

According to Frans, MMB consultants project a 5.5 percent decline in the gross domestic product over three calendar quarters, with a recovery not starting until the first three months of 2021. Additionally, it is predicted that activity will not begin to turn up materially until U.S. cases are zero.

Minnesota was in good financial shape when the COVID-19 crisis started with a projected $1.5 billion ending fund balance and a rainy day account of $2.4 billion; however, once the crisis is over there will be a lack of revenues and adjustments may need to be made in order to maintain a balanced budget. Officials are unclear when the state will have enough new and reliable economic data to update the official state revenue and spending forecast.  

Please reach out to any of the Larkin Hoffman Government Relations team members with any questions. 


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