House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, and House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, address reporters on Oct. 14, 2020 ahead of a floor debate on a tax cuts and borrowing bill. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer.
End-of-session legislative negotiations are being upended as House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, announced Wednesday she has COVID-19.
“My allergies seemed a little bit worse this morning than a normal spring day so I thought it would be prudent to check,” Hortman tweeted, adding she was “feeling fine” and is fully vaccinated and had received a booster shot, too.
She said she would participate in budget negotiations remotely while she quarantines and recovers. The Legislature and governor’s office are practiced at legislating through a pandemic, conducting virtual meetings, even if remote participants have to be reminded their microphone is muted.
Hortman has been in meetings with DFL Gov. Tim Walz and Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona.
In a statement, Miller said, “I spoke with Speaker Hortman on the phone this morning, and I wish her a speedy recovery.”
A spokeswoman for Miller said he is following guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and does not need to be isolated. The guidelines advise that people who are up-to-date on their vaccinations and do not have symptoms do not need to quarantine after an exposure.
Walz on Wednesday visited a school to promote his education agenda, which calls for more funding for mental health resources for students.
Lawmakers are currently debating how to spend the remainder of the state’s $9.25 billion projected budget surplus. Legislative leaders have been reviewing budget spreadsheets and working toward reaching compromises on the session’s top issues, which include public safety, education and tax cuts.
Because the Legislature passed and Walz signed a two-year budget in 2021, they can adjourn this year without passing anything, and state government will keep functioning. Given election year politics — with both parties appealing to their base and seeking to avoid political risk — a stalemate is possible this year.
Lawmakers are also contending with state party conventions; Republicans will meet in Rochester this weekend. Democrats will meet the following week, also in Rochester. Adjournment for the year is May 23.
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