The Minnesota Senate passed additional emergency funding for hospitals, nursing homes and other medical professionals on the front lines to combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus March 16.

The bill also lifts the cap for e-learning to give more flexibility to schools.

Additionally, the legislative bodies have decided to change the regularly scheduled Easter/Passover recess to flatten the curve of coronavirus spread.

“This recess is not a break for the legislature. Rest assured, I will continue working on our most important projects and the issues my constituents bring forward,” said District 16 Sen. Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls. “I will remain available by phone and e-mail. As this is uncharted territory, we have to be flexible in our response and will keep the public updated as necessary.” 

“Residents should know that I’m still working for them, but I’ll be doing so by alternate means,” said District 16B Rep. Paul Torkelson of Hanska. “As we move forward, I hope we can all take a moment to recognize that some of our neighbors are in need and that we will look for ways to help.”

“Daily operations are going to be different at this time, and the most important thing we can do is to take advantage of today’s technology to remain in constant communication,” said District 16A Rep. Chris Swedzinski of Ghent. “Constituent outreach remains a priority for us in the legislature, and we encourage citizens to continue using us as resources. Also, it is crucial that we seek trusted online sources as we obtain new information regarding this outbreak so that we can best manage this issue together.”

On March 9, the legislature unanimously approved $21 million for emergency funding to combat COVID-19. The emergency funds will allow the Minnesota Department of Health, in collaboration with state and federal officials, to support disease investigation, monitor potential cluster outbreaks, provide information to the public, coordinate state-wide response activities and conduct laboratory analysis.

Leaders of the Minnesota legislature have also announced that as of this past Tuesday (March 17) the House of Representatives and Senate have altered their operations and suspended all legislative business until April 14 in order to protect the public and limit the public spread of COVID-19.

Residents who have concerns or questions can still direct them to their local legislators:

• Sen. Dahms’ office at (651) 296-8138 or sen.gary.dahms@senate.mn

• Rep. Torkelson’s office at (651) 296-9303 or rep.paul.torkelson @house.mn

• Rep.Swedzinski’s office at (651) 296-5374 or rep.steve.swedzinski@house.mn

– Image courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Administration Web site