Friends and Neighbors,
We made it through yet another week of the stay-at-home order. I hope you all are doing well despite the circumstances. The Senate passed some important bills and met virtually for committee this week. Please read below for more of this week’s highlights.
Election Security Funding
Today Senate Republicans approved the use of more than $17 million Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and CARES Act funds to secure and protect our elections. This money comes from the federal budget and if you are interested. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
As we navigate this pandemic, we continuously encounter unexpected hurdles. With elections approaching, we worked to improve the voting process so Minnesotans can put their trust in a secure procedure that ensures precautions are taken to protect voters from COVID-19. Every Minnesotan will be able to safely exercise their right to vote.
Roughly half of the funds can be used for any COVID-19 related needs such as temporary screens, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, protective equipment, and social distancing compliance, including extra staff to manage an expected increase of mail absentee ballots. The other half of funding can be used to more general election needs, including updating the Statewide Voter Registration System, election accessibility, and improved election security.
In addition to the funding, the bill allows for the one-time relocation of polling places by July 1, 2020, to protect vulnerable populations. Locations usually needed to be finalized before the end of the year previous to an election. The bill also allows the electronic filing of an affidavit of candidacy and electronic signatures for nominations petitions.
Elective Procedure Amendments
After pressure from the legislature, the Governor announced that he is amending his previous postponement of non-essential or elective procedures. Executive Order 20-51 lifts restrictions on doctors, dentists, and veterinarians to perform some elective surgeries and procedures. The order will “require facilities to prioritize surgeries and procedures and provide safe environment during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency.” This is great progress, but we will keep pushing.
Minnesota Department of Management and Budget announced a projected budget deficit. In February, the state projected a surplus of $1.513 billion for 2020-21 budget cycle. The coronavirus and its economic fallout have erased the surplus, and the state is now facing a projected deficit of $2.43 billion. The $2.36 billion budget reserve remains available to mitigate the budgetary impact of the crisis Nobody could have prepared for something like this. We have to move forward accordingly. We have come back from deficits before, and we will again. Every Minnesotan is cutting back as we work through this. Just like the average family, we will limit our budget until we are back to a healthy state budget once again.
I have heard time and again that the current economy and shutdown has been devastating for our farmers. We are doing everything we can to support you through this time. Getting our processing plants up and running again is a step in the right direction. I want you to know that we are with you. Please continue to contact me with your questions and concerns. Click the link for a thorough resource which includes Stress and Financial Help, Carcass Disposal and Livestock Permitting, Processing, and more: https://www.mda.state.mn.us/covid-19-agriculture.
I pray you all are doing well and staying safe. Be assured that legislative work continues. Please feel free to contact my office at 651-296-5981 or email@example.com.
Keep in Touch
Senator Bruce Anderson
3209 Minnesota Senate Building
95 University Avenue West
St. Paul, MN 55155