Dear Neighbors,

I hope you enjoyed the Fourth of July with family while maintaining social distancing and following COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Governor Walz called the Minnesota Legislature into a second special session this past Monday, July 13. The legislature passed a resolution to adjourn until Monday, July 20. In the meantime, we are working on important legislation, including a bonding bill, transformative public safety initiatives, and additional COVID-19 support. Continue reading for more information on this special session and navigating the COVID-19 global pandemic together. Please stay safe and take care of one another.

Greg Clausen

Bills Passed by the Senate during this Special Session

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Medical Assistance (MA) Dental Providers (S.F. 2)

It is crucial all healthcare providers have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) during COVID-19 to protect their health and the health of patients. This bill appropriates $5 million from the federal CARES Act coronavirus relief fund for the Department of Human Services to dentists/dental clinics that serve MA patients to assist with increased costs for PPE purchases.

Driver’s License Testing Modifications (S.F. 4)

This bill allows driver’s license written knowledge tests to be administered online and allows driving schools access to the Department of Vehicle Services’ (DVS) online knowledge testing system to administer these tests. This is a temporary compromise to address the backlog of knowledge testing at DVS facilities across the state. The bill also prohibits driving schools from reserving exam slots for road tests and will require two reports from the Department of Public Safety on how they are addressing testing backlogs.

Disability Service Providers Retention Grants (S.F. 12)

Senate File 12 expands the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Customized Living Quality Improvement grants program to be available for brain injury (BI), community access for disability inclusion (CADI), and elderly waiver (EW) programs. The goal is to allow more providers to be eligible to apply for these grants.

This bill also adds DHS' Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) flexibility to be extended into 2021. The added flexibility would allow remote interviews for MFIP and the use of electronic signatures for enrollment verification to continue.

Lastly, the bill includes disability provider retention and reinvention grants. Funding from the federal coronavirus relief fund is allocated to DHS to create a retention grant program to assist certain disability service providers with costs of business interruptions required by COVID-19 closures and to maintain the provider’s capacity to continue services to clients. This funding will assist in preventing closures of providers. Eligible providers include: adult day services, day training and habilitation, day support services providers; employment service providers for people with disabilities; and Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI) providers.

The bill allocates funding from the federal coronavirus relief fund for reinvention grants for certain day and employment service providers to continue moving towards integrated, community-based employment services and reduce facility-based and sheltered service settings. Eligible providers include: adult day services, day training and habilitation, day support services; employment service providers for people with disabilities.

Bonding Bill Update

A robust bonding bill is necessary and can serve as an economic stimulus package during the COVID-19 pandemic for communities across Minnesota. Bonding investments maintain and enhance infrastructure by providing important investments in water infrastructure, roads and bridge repair, transit, parks, trails, airports, public buildings, and university and college campus projects. An additional benefit of passing bonding bills is the employment of many workers across the state.

Typically, the second year in the biennium is a bonding year and is reserved for supplemental bills and the capital investment proposal. In mid-January Governor Walz released his proposal, which included $2 billion in general obligation bonds and $600 million in funding from other sources. It was anticipated this investment would leverage $3.4 billion from other local and foundation sources.

It was disappointing that little action was taken on the bonding bill until the final days of the legislative session with no agreement reached. A bonding bill must receive 3/5ths of members’ votes for passage and the proposed bonding bill did not receive the necessary votes. There were several good projects in the bill but it was inadequate in several areas, including transit, higher education, and public safety, and it did not provide statewide project equity. The bill did not adequately meet the vast needs across the state with shovel-ready projects.

Legislative leaders are currently crafting and negotiating a bonding bill during this special session. The House had a public remote hearing for the bonding bill on Tuesday. The legislation contains $1.8 billion in needed renovations and repairs across Minnesota. Bond funding for the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley and for the Rosemount National Guard Readiness Center is included in this proposal.  

Peacetime Emergency Extension

The Governor called the legislature into special session on July 13 to extend the peacetime emergency, in addition to working on other important legislation. The peacetime emergency has allowed Minnesota to take quick, decisive action to protect Minnesotans during the COVID-19 global pandemic. This extension will ensure that Minnesotans continue to receive important support and relief as the pandemic evolves.

On March 13, Governor Walz declared a peacetime emergency to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump declared a national emergency on the same day, and the national emergency continues today. To date, all 50 states have declared states of emergency, and 49 of them remain in place today.

After a vote on Monday, the Legislature did not remove the Governor’s constitutional ability to declare a peacetime emergency. Minnesota is currently seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases. We need the ability to respond in real time to address growing numbers of cases and bring the numbers back down.

There are many important protections in place due to executive orders implemented during the peacetime emergency. If the peacetime emergency ends, these protections will end as well. Since the Governor declared a peacetime emergency, Minnesota has taken strong steps to respond to and provide relief for COVID-19: closed school buildings and implemented a distance learning period; enhanced protections for veterans in our veterans homes; activated the National Guard to assist in relief efforts; increased testing capacity; preserved personal protective equipment; built out critical hospital capacity; provided economic relief and stability to those impacted by the pandemic; protected Minnesotans against evictions and wage garnishment; allowed Minnesota to re-open society strategically while following the advice of public health experts; and protected workers from unsafe worker conditions.

Update on Minnesota Schools this Fall

It is expected that Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will release guidance for public schools by the end of July.

MDE recently released the results of a survey asking Minnesota families about their experience with distance learning and their thoughts on the upcoming school year. MDE received over 130,000 responses with 64% of respondents reporting they would feel comfortable sending their students back to school. The results also showed significant concerns for public health remain. It is crucial MDE hear the perspectives of teachers and staff as they continue to discuss a plan forward for schools this fall.

Later today I am having a discussion with ISD 196 Superintendent Kreger and other local legislators to discuss safety and educational concerns regarding schools in our district as we move forward with navigating the start of this upcoming school year.

Absentee Voting

The Legislature previously voted to pass additional funding for election safety this fall, including expanded absentee voting and safety precautions at polls. Absentee voting is safe and secure. You can request an absentee ballot for the upcoming primary and general elections on the Secretary of State’s website HERE. In addition to keeping you and your family safe, absentee voting minimizes the risk of COVID-19 transmission to election officials and other voters.

Have you completed the 2020 Census?

One of the most important things you can do in 2020 is respond to the 2020 Census. We want everyone living in Minnesota to be counted. Respond now and encourage your family, friends, neighbors, and others to respond. Respond online HERE, by phone at 844-330-2020 (call 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week), or by mail by completing and returning the paper census questionnaire delivered or mailed to your home. Respond for where you were living on April 1 and include everyone who usually lived there, including children.

Non-English language support:  You can respond online or by phone in one of 13 languages and find assistance in many more languages. Visit HERE for more info.

If the Census Bureau does not hear from your household, a census taker will visit soon to ask you the census questions in person.

Why is the census important?

  1. Census data shapes the future for our kids – funding that is impacted by census counts include many programs that benefit families and children.
  2. For our community’s fair share of funding – census data is used to determine billions in federal funds each year to state and local communities. A recent example is funding from the federal CARES Act to state and local governments.
  3. For our community’s fair share of representation in Congress and our state Legislature.
  4. Because you matter to our community – be counted.

Last Summer Newsletter

This is my last update to constituents until after the election in November. Campaign finance laws prohibit legislators from using state resources for unsolicited communications during an election period. While I will not be able to send these updates for a while, you can still follow me on my legislative Facebook and Twitter for updates. Additionally, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call my office at 651-296-4120 or email me directly at

You can access additional information and updates regarding services throughout the summer and fall here:

Governor Walz’s Office

Minnesota Department of Education

Minnesota Department of Health

Minnesota Department of Human Services

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Assistance

Minnesota Housing

Minnesota Department of Transportation