The Minnesota Legislature passed its fourth COVID-19 relief bill Tuesday, which deals with everything from marriage listening and telemedicine coverage.
The bill would provide COVID-19 testing to uninsured Minnesotans, but this measure requires federal approval. It also expands Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm’s authority to address the pandemic, including the ability to set up alternative and temporary healthcare facilities.
The bill also extends the deadline for a new resident to obtain an in-state driver’s license and allows local governments to accept marriage license applications by mail, fax or electronically. Courts are also permitted to accept wills with minor errors.
The Metropolitan Council would also be permitted to use federal funds to purchase personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, for employees. The bill also provides further support for food banks.
“The legislation we passed today will provide needed flexibility and assistance to Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman said in a statement.
"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."
Gov. Tim Walz recently extended his peacetime emergency through May 13. Some House Republicans argued for ended the declaration, but a resolution to do so failed.
As of Wednesday, Minnesota has seen 1,809 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 87 deaths.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, introduced an amendment to cut lines from the bill granting Malcolm the authority to set up temporary healthcare facilities, but it failed to pass.
“This Legislature foists yet one more big power to this government during this emergency to further tell Minnesotans what they can and cannot do," he said.