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Coronavirus: Walz signs 4 more executive orders

They give relief to livestock farmers and people relying on DHS benefits.
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Gov. Tim Walz is beefing up the state's coronavirus response with a batch of new executive orders.

The four executive orders — numbered 20-42 through 20-45 — were signed Friday, each with the aim of easing economic burdens on a wide array of Minnesotans.

Here's a rundown of what they do, and who they affect.

1. COVID-19 relief won't make you ineligible for DHS assistance

The first order ensures that anyone receiving COVID-19 relief payments from federal, tribal, state, county, or local governments will not be disqualified from receiving public assistance through Department of Human Services (DHS) programs.

Under current law, the executive order notes, COVID-19 economic relief could be counted as income, possibly making those who receive it ineligible for the state's food, housing, and medical assistance programs.

Counting pandemic relief as income "would endanger the public health and cause severe hardship to Minnesotans who need these programs at this difficult time," the order says.

This is effective until Minnesota's recently-declared peacetime emergency is over, "or until it is rescinded by proper authority."

2. Easing regulations on shareholder meetings

This one impacts corporate shareholders who are accountable to regulatory bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Under Executive Order 20-43, such people are given more flexibility to hold shareholder meetings remotely (i.e. over Zoom), and notify the SEC of any schedule change "without incurring the cost of an additional physical mailing."

20-43 allows a board of directors to "to change a meeting currently noticed for a physical location to a meeting conducted solely by remote communication" with at least ten days' notice. 

3. Exempting livestock haulers from certain regulations

Citing recent meat-packing plant closures in the region, which could strain the food supply, Executive Order 20-44 extends a previous executive order to relax regulations on trucks transporting needed meat products. 

The previous order, which exempted such trucking services from certain weight restrictions and hours-of-service requirements for drivers, was scheduled to end on Sunday, April 26. The new order extends that deadline 30 days from today.

"The continued and efficient movement of livestock and animal carcasses is vital to the health and safety of Minnesotans," it says.

4. Making it easier for livestock farmers to get rid of surplus animals

Similar to the previous order, Executive Order 20-45 is aimed at making it easier for livestock producers to haul meat away.

However, as the wording of this order notes, many Minnesota pig and poultry farmers will be forced to "depopulate and compost" their animals — in other words, destroy them — due to a sharp decrease in demand for meat products. 

"The unfortunate need to depopulate large numbers of animals on farms presents a risk to public health and safety, and prompt transportation of composting materials is crucial," EO 20-45 says. 

Like the previous action, this eases trucking restrictions to make that possible. The order will remain in place for a maximum of 30 days.

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