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Walz postpones State of the State, signs priority legislation in COVID-19 rush

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Gov. Tim Walz on Monday, March 16, 2020, announced he would close restaurants and bars with the exception of take-out, pick-up and delivery options in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service

ST PAUL — With the COVID-19 pandemic having reached all 50 states, including Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz has postponed his State of the State address scheduled for Monday, March 23.

On Tuesday, March 17, Walz tweeted that in a letter to Minnesota state House Speaker Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, he postponed the address previously set to take place in the House chamber in St. Paul's Capitol. Walz said he will televise his address at a later unannounced date.

Walz's postponement comes one day after he ordered Minnesota restaurants, bars, gyms, museums, clubs and more to shutter until March 27 in an attempt to mitigate community spread of COVID-19, a respiratory illness caused by exposure to coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are asking Americans to avoid gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks, and the Minnesota Legislature itself has shifted to remote work.

In a rush to finish legislative priorities amid the pandemic, Walz signed three non-coronavirus-related bills on Tuesday: one allocating $50 million to the Rural Finance Authority's low-interest loan program for farmers , a second replenishing the state's contingency account for natural disasters and a third expanding state Highway 14.

“As my Administration focuses on combating the COVID-19 pandemic, our democracy must continue,” Walz said in an afternoon news release.

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