The Potluck

Lawmakers approve $21 million for coronavirus response

By: - March 9, 2020 12:10 pm

The Minnesota Legislature on Monday unanimously approved $21 million in funding for the state’s coronavirus preparedness. 

Republican and DFL legislative leaders raced to get the bill to DFL Gov. Tim Walz’s desk this week. The governor is expected to sign the legislation into law Tuesday.

The Senate bill by Sen. Jerry Relph, R-St. Cloud, had only brief debate on the floor Monday morning and ended with a 64-0 vote. The House later made a small, technical change and also approved the bill unanimously, 133-0, kicking the bill back to the Senate for final approval.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, sought to minimize undue alarm over the widening outbreak, which has killed fewer people than the flu but is nonetheless wreaking havoc on the global economy. 

“I don’t want us to lose perspective,” Gazelka said, adding “We have a plan.” 

Daily life has already been significantly disrupted in states like Washington and California,  which have among the highest number of confirmed cases. 

“Minnesota is fortunate to have a strong public health sector,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said in a statement after the House vote.“Minnesotans can be assured that our public health officials are working around the clock to prepare for and to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Minnesota now has two confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The two individuals are from Ramsey and Carver counties. 

*This story was updated to reflect the final passage of the bill by the Legislature late Monday night.


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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.