I am a very visual learner. My offices at the Capitol and at home have a big white board with a calendar on them. At the Capitol, I use it to track all of my bills (with color coding) and keep everything moving forward.
That calendar is still stuck on March 16. That is the day when everything in the MN Legislature switched from normal order to all-COVID-all-the-time.
We ended up getting a lot of other great things done in 2020, but those first few months were focused on COVID-19.
As Vice-Chair of the House Transportation Committee I was asked to work with our colleagues in the Minnesota Senate, the Department of Public Safety, and our local Deputy Registrars to craft language that could be used to extend Driver’s Licenses for Minnesotans whose license was expiring while all of the offices were closed down.
During this time, we had to develop a new way to work. Much of legislating is done in the margins. Short talks and check-ins while walking in and out of meetings or running into another member in the halls of the Capitol. To accomplish these major COVID tasks, everything had to be done by phone (was before we had a solid Zoom game) and needed to be very intentional.
I was the lead on organizing the extensions for Driver’s Licenses. This meant hours of phone calls with the Department of Public Safety to make sure they could implement the changes, discussions with our amazing (!) Scott County Registrar and customer service center to make sure the changes would work on the front lines, and with Senators who seldom make things easy.
We found a great compromise on licenses that was flexible enough to take care of peoples’ needs but not too overbearing. You can now renew your driver’s license with an appointment at the Scott County Government Center. Or if it has expired during COVID, you have until two months after the end of the Peacetime Emergency.
I’m extremely proud of this work and happy that it is helping so many Minnesotans. We got the bill passed with myriad other COVID provisions. Here is the StarTrib’s article on our results.
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