Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed six bills into law on Tuesday on legislative topics ranging from health to underage marriage.
One law extends the funding used to increase testing capacity for the coronavirus pandemic, as well as ensure there are hospital beds and personal protective equipment. Another requires drug makers to provide a “detailed rationale to the state” for large price increases for drugs that cost $100 or more for a 30-day supply. A third prohibits marriage by residents in the state under age 18.
“The COVID-19 fund has saved lives,” Walz said in a statement. “Its extension will allow Minnesota to continue providing resources Minnesotans need to weather this pandemic.”
The governor also signed an election bill that improves voting accessibility, allocated funding to ensure the “health and safety” of election officials and voters, and includes preparation for absentee voting, new polling locations, and public outreach about social distancing guidelines.
The bill comes as many states are preparing for a potential second wave of COVID-19. Minnesota currently has nearly 13,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus resulting in 638 deaths, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project.
The election bill does not include a switch to mail-in voting, as other states have done, despite Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon saying in early April that the state had been considering conducting the entire presidential election by mail.
“Whatever option we use, we’ll do this thoughtfully and carefully. No one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote. There are a number of costs, variables, and trade-offs to consider, and planning at all levels of government will be crucial,” Simon said at the time.
Republicans in the state expressed concern about security for a mail-in election, saying it was unnecessary.
“Amid COVID-19, Minnesota remains committed to helping Minnesotans afford the medication they need to survive, ensuring Minnesotans can safely cast their ballots, and protecting our most vulnerable citizens,” Walz said.