Legislative Top 5: April 30, 2021

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AND THE CENSUS SAYS…

Minnesota found out this week that it will keep all eight congressional seats. It has been hypothesized for decades that Minnesota was likely to lose a seat, but we have continued to hold on to it. However, this year was likely the closest margin yet. If New York had counted an additional 89 people, it would have retained the seat that it is losing, and Minnesota would have lost a seat.

CAN IT FUNCTION?

No, the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board cannot currently function due to a lack of board members. A full board consists of six members, and while Governor Tim Walz recently appointed four new members to fill the board positions (two members were confirmed previously), only one of the four was approved by the legislature. Because of the inaction on the other three appointees, Gov. Walz must appoint new members and the board cannot meet until he does so.

TELEHEALTH MOVES FORWARD

This week the Senate passed a bill to modernize Minnesota’s telehealth laws. Even though the existing statutes were put into place only a handful of years ago, many experts believe the pandemic advanced the implementation and use of telehealth by many years. Negotiations are continuing on details of the legislation, with the primary areas of discussion being whether payment parity (which currently exists in law) will be fully maintained and whether or not a sunset should be included to force the legislature to address the issue again within a couple years.

CONFERENCE COMMITTEES BEGIN

Five members from each legislative body have been appointed to serve as conferees on the more than a dozen major appropriations bills that need to pass before the end of session. With the constitutionally-mandated end to the legislative session just a little more than two weeks away, much remains to be done. Conferees are beginning to hammer out policy details, but final decisions won’t happen until leadership agrees to final budget targets.

ANTICIPATING ANOTHER DIAL TURN

Governor Walz stated this week that he is likely to announce further loosening of restrictions sometime soon. As COVID-19 case numbers and resulting hospitalizations continue to decline, many Minnesotans are anxious to see a further return to life as it was prior to the pandemic.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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