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March 16, 2020

Governor Declares Emergency; Closes Schools  

On Friday afternoon, Governor Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency in response to the rapid spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). On Sunday, Walz followed up that declaration with Emergency Executive Order 20-02, which authorized the Commissioner of Education "to alter school schedules, curtail school activities, or order schools closed” from Wednesday, March 18, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020. School districts have been directed, however, to continue to provide care to, at a minimum, students aged 12 and under who are children of emergency workers in order to allow their parents to continue to provide essential health care services.

The response comes as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota jumped from four to 54 in the last week. The Walz Administration had previously qualified the state’s Public Health Lab to quickly test possible cases and coordinated with the federal Center for Disease Control (CDC), as well as local school districts and healthcare systems to spread public awareness of the virus.

After the state’s first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed a week ago Sunday, the Legislature unanimously passed legislation transferring approximately $21 million from the General Fund to the state’s public health response contingency account. The additional funding will cover staffing and laboratory costs, personal protective equipment, and support for local public health agencies, but does not cover medical supplies or direct support to health care providers. The Governor signed the bill into law last Tuesday.

This morning the leaders of all four legislative caucus held a joint press conference to announce plans for an alternative legislative schedule in the coming weeks. Specifically, after today’s floor session, both chambers will recess and work by alternate means through April 14, 2020 (the end of the previously established Easter/Passover recess). Committee hearings and floor sessions will be held on an “as-needed” basis in the interim and all meetings will be held in such a manner as to allow six feet of distance between individuals. Legislators and staff will continue to work via remote technology where possible and advanced public notice will be provided to any public meetings where official actions may be considered.

The Legislature is currently in recess, upon their return this evening, we expect that they would pass an emergency funding package in response to the COVID-19 situation. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Governor Releases Supplemental Budget Recommendations 

On Thursday, Governor Tim Walz released his supplemental budget recommendations for fiscal year 2020-2021. The Governor is recommending an increase of $346 million while retaining $1.167 billion on the state’s bottom line. In a letter to legislative leaders, the Governor stated two priorities in his supplemental budget proposal: fiscal stability and addressing emergency response and preparedness needs across the state.
To meet these two priorities, the Governor is replenishing $491 million into the budget reserve, and adding funding to enhance public safety in communities, crime prevention on transit, reducing accidents on farm operations, and addressing the rise in teen vaping.

Find more information on the Governor’s supplemental budget proposal here.

Insulin Bill Passes Senate 

In a vote of 66-0, the Minnesota Senate voted to pass its version of the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act. The bill establishes an emergency assistance program for individuals struggling to afford insulin for the treatment of diabetes. The new program would place a fee on insulin manufacturers to pay for up to three months of no-cost insulin for eligible patients.

The bill heads to a conference committee as the House passed a version different from the Senate earlier this session.

Committee Deadline & Important Dates to Remember 

At this point, the Minnesota Legislature will be in recess until April 14, 2020. There have been no announcements regarding how the existing bill deadlines will be impacted. We expect things to remain very fluid over the next few weeks. Regardless of what may occur in the upcoming weeks, the Legislature is still constitutionally mandated to adjourn on or before May 18, 2020. We will closely monitor the situation and provide updates as they become available.

The previously announced committee deadlines are as follows:

  • March 20, 2020  - Committees must act favorably on bills in the house of origin.
  • March 23, 2020  - Governor Tim Walz’s State of the State 
  • March 27, 2020  - Committees must act favorably on bills, or companions of bills, that met the first deadline in the other body.
  • April 3, 2020  - Committees must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills.
  • April 3-April 13, 2020  - Legislative recess for Easter/Passover holidays
  • May 18, 2020  - Minnesota Legislature required to adjourn session sine die.‎

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


Our Team

Peter Coyle



Peder Larson



Margaret Vesel



Robert Long



Matthew Bergeron



Gerald Seck



Logan O'Grady


Grady Harn


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This newsletter is provided as a service to our clients and firm associates. While the information provided in this newsletter is believed to be accurate, it is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.