Each week during the session, we're tracking important pieces of legislation as they move through the legislature.
Take a look at bill progress in both the Minnesota House and Senate, as well as weekly previews and reviews, below.
3/27/2020 — Legislative Review
The Legislature continued in its new normal state this past week with legislation to fight the COVID-19 pandemic being the sole focus of lawmakers.
Gov. Tim Walz took more executive measures to combat the virus outbreak while the Legislature also passed a big response bill.
On Thursday, the House and Senate passed a $330 million piece of legislation that contained several bills addressing the state's response to COVID-19. Of that total, $200 million will be moving money from the state's general fund to a newly created COVID-19 response fund, which Gov. Walz will have broad discretion on deciding how to use that money to fight the virus in Minnesota. Walz is expected to sign the bill Monday morning.
The governor also used executive power to address support and flexibility for workers in several industries in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Of course, the biggest move this week was when Walz issued a "stay at home" order, directing all non-essential workers to stay home. The order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. Friday and lasts for two weeks (through April 10).
On top of that order, Walz also extended the closure of in-person schooling in the state to May 4 and the in-person closure of businesses like restaurants, bars, etc. until May 1. Of course, takeout and delivery is still allowed, just not dine-in options.
There was also big news at the federal level this week as lawmakers passed a $2.2 trillion bill, which was signed by President Trump on Friday, that is aimed at providing some economic relief to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. That will include sending checks to most Americans, which is slated to be about $1,200 per person and $500 per child.
Legislation in response to COVID-19 is sure to stay the main focus of lawmakers both at the state and federal levels for the foreseeable future.
That's this week's legislative review.
3/23/2020 — Legislative Preview
The seventh week of the current Legislative session will be the third consecutive week heavily focused on COVID-19.
After the Legislature began working by “alternative means” last week, all previously scheduled business was canceled as lawmakers focused on bills to respond to the outbreak.
Lawmakers also said their focus for the remainder of the session — at least for the foreseeable future — will be on bills that are:
However, as the pandemic continues to evolve, so too will lawmakers’ response. That means the Legislature may spend a good amount of time on a bill related to COVID-19 that may not have even been introduced yet but will be this week due to the evolving situation.
In short, expect a heavy amount of the work and focus to continue to be COVID-19 related as the Legislature, like the rest of us, continue to adjust to the rapidly changing situation.