Local legislators work to combat COVID-19 during legislative session

Samantha Boring
Created: January 28, 2021 07:14 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) - Almost a month into the 2021 Minnesota legislative session, lawmakers are busy working on new bills. 
Some lawmakers said their main focus in this session is the state's budget and COVID-19. 

In the Minnesota House, DFL Representative Tina Liebling is carrying a bill that would use around $2 million for issues at long term care facilities, testing, and staffing. 

Liebling said, "The bill was and is intending to help with one of the most critical places where the pandemic has hit, and that is in our long term care facilities." 

Liebling also mentioned that the bill might not be needed with the new administration in the White House. 

"We are now getting new information from the federal government about money that is coming from the federal government for a lot of these things," said Liebling. 

Representative Liebling said this is not a new issue in the pandemic, and this bill is there as a backup if the state needs to step in. 

Liebling said, "This was our effort to help them all step it up. And it's not a new idea, this is all stuff that has been happening. or most of it anyway, and the bill was an attempt to put in some more funding from the state when we thought the federal funds were going to completely go away." 

Liebling is also helping with another bill that would provide a statewide mask mandate through the legislature. 
In the Minnesota Senate, Republican Senator Carla Nelson hopes to give learning plan control back to school board members.

Nelson recently introduced a bill that would remove Governor Walz's authority to restrict schools from opening during the peacetime emergency order. 

Nelson said local school boards know their students best and should have the authority to reopen. 

Nelson said, "The local school boards know best how and when students should be able to return to school safely, and so Senate file two just restores that authority is rightfully theirs." 

Nelson also said that parents should have the option between in-person or online learning. 

"This is very disruptive for many many of the children and so we need to return to local control on this issue. And also then there is the science, the science is really coalescing around the fact that schools are not super spreaders," Nelson said. 

She said the bill will be heard in the State Government Committee next week. 
The Minnesota legislative session lasts until May 17, 2021. 

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