365体育投注ST. PAUL — Minnesota state senators are set to return to the Capitol Thursday, April 16, to take up a slate of proposals that neared passage before the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the state and forced a new "normal" in the Legislature.
A set of prescription drug and health care-related measures will be up for consideration. And while work continues on efforts to get businesses back on their feet and to allow restaurants to sell beer and wine with takeout orders, those proposals weren't said to come up this week, per Senate schedules.
Lawmakers have come back three times since taking a recess last month due to the pandemic. In each round, they've approved COVID-19 response funding and legislation. They passed another $20 million before moving to mostly remote hearings in March.
365体育投注Now, with roughly a month left in the Legislature's regular session, Senate leaders said they wanted to get back to a more consistent floor voting schedule to be able to respond to requests from Gov. Tim Walz and to pass other legislation they'd be working on were it not for the pandemic.
"I think it's time for the Minnesota Senate to get back to work as normal but frankly it's a new normal and I think as you look at what people have done around the state, our habits have changed," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said Tuesday. "We have a little less than a month to go to work on some of the things Minnesotans want us to work on."
365体育投注So what will be first up as the Senate returns to "normal"? A list of bills set to come up Thursday includes bills that were nearly ready to go before the onset of the pandemic in Minnesota. Lawmakers will consider a plan to require drug manufacturers to alert the state department of health when they raise the price of a prescription drug by a certain threshold and explain the rationale for the increase. That information would be made public.
Senators will also consider a bill that would allow prescriptions of erectile dysfunction medication to be made over telehealth services and a proposal to clarify that the state's Medicaid program would not have to cover the cost of treatment from an approved clinical trial.
Proposals for jumpstarting the economy as restrictions designed to curb COVID-19's spread lift, responding to the pandemic and allowing for restaurants to offer beer and wine with takeout orders — a move restaurateurs said could boost their revenues — were still in the works at the Capitol, but legislative leaders said they expected traction in those areas soon.
365体育投注Lawmakers turned to computer conferencing services and phone calls to vet legislation in virtual hearings, with occasional hiccups. And they said much of their work would be done remotely in the next few weeks.
But voting would have to take place with at least some measures present. And Gazelka said senators, who'd adopted social distancing guidelines and other health protocols, could continue some of their work at the Capitol complex before the state's stay at home order lifts next month.
And the call to more frequent in-person floor sessions raised concern for Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, D-Woodbury. Kent said the Senate should meet when they had work to take up to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus, rather than sticking to the floor sessions and votes every three days.
"The issue is really when we go back to our communities and we go back to our families and we go back to our neighbors," Kent said. "I just encourage all of us to be thoughtful and take very seriously that when we come together we need to be organized. We need to be respectful and responsible with each other and with our communities that we all represent."
365体育投注The Senate is set to convene Thursday at 11 a.m. and several committees will also meet remotely. The Minnesota House of Representatives is set to come back into session on Friday.