Minnesota House, Senate pass 4th COVID-19 reponse package

The Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate on Tuesday passed another package of legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Tim Walz is expected to quickly sign the bill.

The legislation mostly focuses on providing flexibility in government services, including:

  • Providing local governments flexibility through changes to the open meeting law, allowing voting and meeting in places other than the normal place due to the current circumstances;
  • Allowing a court to deem a will has been properly executed if convincing evidence is presented despite a statutory requirement not being met;
  • Allowing new Minnesota residents to use their old license for 60 days before needing a Minnesota one;
  • Extending the expiration date for medical examiner certificates and waivers;
  • Providing more flexibility in new commercial driver’s licenses;
  • Requiring reports to the Legislature from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Council on powers exercised during the peacetime emergency;
  • Authorizing the Met Council to use federal funds to purchase protective equipment for Metro Transit employees;
  • Ensuring medical assistance covers COVID-19 testing costs and is available for all who need it;
  • Providing federal authority for the Minnesota Department of Health commissioner to set up alternative, temporary health care facilities;
  • Prohibiting health care providers from denying or limiting reimbursement for coverage of telemedicine services between a licensed health care provider and a patient;
  • Allowing respiratory therapists to be included in the list of health care providers;
  • Suspending deadlines in district and appellate courts, including statute of limitations;
  • Extending the deadline to file a motion to contest the child support cost-of-living adjustment for reasons related to COVID-19;
  • Allowing local governments to implement procedures to accept marriage licenses during the peacetime emergency by mail, fax or electronic filing without the need to appear in person;
  • Extending the time period for those participating in tthe Farmer-Lender Mediation Act;
  • Addressing some known problems in the current vehicle registration system bsaed on recommendations from the vehicle registration task force and the Legislative Auditor;
  • Allowing coroners or medical examiners to access the criminal justice data communications network;
  • Technical changes and forecast adjustments in Human Services;
  • Increasing investments in Second Harvest Heartland to support Minnesota food banks;
  • Providing the Department of Revenue with liquor posting discretion.

"The top priority was to help the Governor react to the COVID virus – we’ve put more than $500 million in funding to prepare hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and state agencies, and funding to support child care providers, small businesses, college students, and veterans," said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. "Today’s bill includes some important technical issues that need to be dealt with as we continue with our response to the challenges caused by the virus."

“The legislation we passed today will provide needed flexibility and assistance to Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “There is clearly more work to do to safeguard the health and economic well-being of Minnesotans. We will continue working with Governor Walz and the Minnesota Senate to help Minnesotans during this public health crisis.”