Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

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March 12, 2021 Rep. Sondra Erickson District 15A

Dear Neighbors,

It’s been a busy week at the capitol as the first committee deadlines are today. The first deadline is for committees to act favorably on bills in their house of origin. For example, if a piece of legislation has not received at least one hearing in either the House or Senate by Friday night, the bill is effectively “dead” for this year’s legislative session.

Because of this deadline, committees have been meeting into the evening all week to get bills their first hearing.

One Year of Emergency Powers
Tomorrow, Saturday, marks the first anniversary of the Governor declaring a peacetime emergency to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the last twelve months, one single person has been making decisions that impact the lives of every Minnesotan. We’ve seen schools closed, businesses shuttered, and tremendous hardship for folks across our state.

Instead of working with the legislature on managing the state’s response to the pandemic, Governor Walz continues to insist that his emergency powers are needed.

However, it’s becoming much more difficult for the Governor to justify the need for a peacetime emergency.

Case counts, deaths, and hospitalizations have dropped significantly across Minnesota in recent months. We are currently at levels we have not seen since the very start of the pandemic. As more vaccines are administered coupled with natural immunity from individuals that had the virus and defeated it, we are beginning to see the pandemic wind down.

States across the nation, blue and red alike, are beginning to reopen in the latest sign that the pandemic is winding down.

I have voted more than a dozen times to end the peacetime emergency and restore the legislature as a co-equal branch of government. Sadly, the House Democrat majority refuses to join us in our efforts. Until we can convince more Democrats to join us, the emergency powers will continue.

The “emergency” is over. We must now move into the management and recovery phase. To effectively do that, the voice of the people must be at the table. The legislature needs to be on equal footing with the Governor and the powers must end.

My colleague, Rep. Nolan West, recorded a brief video discussing the emergency powers. I encourage you to watch it here.

Governor Turns Back Dials
I wanted to pass along an update on the dial turns being announced by the Governor later today.

Unless otherwise noted, the adjustments are effective at noon on Monday, March 15. They include:

Changes to Social Gathering Restrictions:

  • Social gatherings: Up to 50 people outdoors or 15 people for indoor gatherings, both without household limits.
  • Youth sports: Pod size increasing to 50 for outdoor activities.
  • Religious services: Remove occupancy limit, but social distancing required.
  • Celebrations: Follow venue guidance.

Small businesses:

  • Bars and restaurants: Increasing allowable occupancy to 75%, up from 50%, with a limit of 250 people. The limits apply separately indoors and outdoors. Bar seating increases to parties of 4.
  • Salons/barbers: Removing the occupancy limit, but social distancing required.
  • Gyms/fitness centers/pools: Increasing allowable occupancy to 50%, up from 25%. Outdoor classes can increase to 50 people.
  • Entertainment venues: Increasing allowable occupancy to 50%, up from 25%, both indoors and outdoors, with a limit of 250.

As summer nears, the state will adjust guidelines for large venues. All venues can open at 50% capacity up to 250 people. Venues with normal occupant capacity over 500 can add additional guests, effective April 1:

  • Seated outdoor venues can add an additional 25% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 10,000 people.
  • Non-seated outdoor venues can add an additional 15% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 10,000 people.
  • Seated indoor venues can add an additional 15% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 3,000 people.
  • Non-seated indoor venues can add an additional 10% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 1,500 people.

As more Minnesotans are vaccinated, work from home will no longer be required – but it will continue to be strongly recommended – beginning April 15. All employers should continue to accommodate employees who wish to work from home.

Staying in Touch
Please be sure to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Have a good day,

Sondra

273 State Office Building 
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-6746
rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn
@RepSondraErickson