Minnesota State Sen. Jim Abeler gave a speech this past week that is essential reading for Minnesota Republicans. Here is the text of Sen. Abeler’s speech:

Mr. President, Members, and Governor Walz,

I have the privilege of standing in this historic chamber doing my best to make a difference the people who rely on me. It is an honor and a very high responsibility.

This is a very difficult speech to give.

I have two important points to make.

First, I am critically concerned about what is happening to Main Street and side street families and the livelihoods of those who are suddenly forbidden to work and can’t even get their boat out of storage or dock installed.

This is not a partisan debate, even though some would attempt to paint it so. A number of DFL legislators have publicly or privately agreed with me. As you know, there is great political pressure for members of any governor’s party to quietly “support their governor” even when they strongly disagree. This is how it is in both parties, unfortunately.

Governor, as you began your term, I told you I would work with you to help Minnesota. Please consider my comments as candid words from a friend.
I suggest a new doctrine to guide the reopening of Minnesota. Constrained optimization. Constrained optimization.

Start reopening small and safe places and then go bigger. And begin today.

Minnesota families are interested in the safety of their neighbors and their town. They are deeply frightened about Covid-19 for their elders, their families, and themselves. And it shows.

They are good people. They care about Minnesota as much as you do. These are the locals who contribute to the middle school girls’ softball team. The ones who always give a door prize for the church bazaar. The Rotarians who always seek to help others. The people who make me proud to know them.

They have been shocked with the dozens of executive orders that have rained down over the past few weeks. They were stunned when their safe workplace was ordered locked.

Had they been asked, given the gravity of this situation, they would have stayed home, instead of needing the threat of a thousand dollar fine and prison. Had they been asked, they would have made heroic efforts to make their small business very safe for their fellow townspeople. They would have likely come up with ideas nobody in government has thought of even yet.

Your own modeling shows that we are well ahead of earlier grave projections. We have flattened the curve and built capacity to cover health care needs of the emergency we are facing together.

However, those gains could have happened without great personal expense for so many. There has been very much needless collateral damage inflicted on those who were already extremely low risk.

Main Street is dying. It’s little mom and pop stores aren’t powerful corporations. They can’t pay their bills. My Anoka Chamber President tells me that time is running out for these businesses to survive. In these executive orders, they are being cast off like chaff.

Reopening Anoka’s automated car wash will add no deaths. Reopening Anoka’s Greenhaven unmanned golf course will endanger nobody. Allowing the local shoe and clothing stores to reopen is at least as safe as Walmart.

There should be simple guidelines that they can follow, and they are poised to do that.

No lives will be sacrificed to accomplish this. Allowing these re-openings is consistent with epidemiologist Mike Osterholm’s views that we have to find a way to resume some semblance of normalcy while Covid-19 is still around. I agree with him.

My townspeople are going to continue social distancing even after the executive order expires. They will follow safe guidelines and the vulnerable people will stay home.

The next state budget forecast will predict a huge devastating deficit. My personal estimate is at least $5 billion deficit. If we stay closed unnecessarily long, the deficit will be greater. We are going to need these good Minnesotans to be part of the recovery and rebuilding.

Please let them work. Constrained optimization. Start small and safe today.

My second point is why are we here? Our legislative process is decidedly broken.

The opaque method that brought this bill to the Senate Floor is too common of a practice. It is not good for Minnesota. This also happened just two weeks ago, last year, and in 2018. This dangerous pattern must be broken.

And specific to this bill, it adds to the centralization of power. I have a lot of respect for Commissioner Malcolm. However, we are awarding her the authority to suspend all or parts of 20 chapters of law including quarantine protections, without legislative approval. It is too much power for any one person.

It is time to return to the separation of powers that has made Minnesota so great for over 160 years. A thoughtful, collaborative governor. An inclusive legislature. A transparent process that includes the people we represent.

At the train crossing by my house, there are two red lights that flash when the train comes. Governor Walz visited there last year. We know to stop when those lights flash.

Hopefully my red light on the board today will warn Minnesota that we need to do better.

Governor Walz, let’s start today on constrained optimization. Colleagues, lets commit to a more open process. On both matters, Minnesota will be the winner.

Here is the ‘essential section’ that Gov. Walz should read and understand:

Main Street is dying. It’s little mom and pop stores aren’t powerful corporations. They can’t pay their bills. My Anoka Chamber President tells me that time is running out for these businesses to survive. In these executive orders, they are being cast off like chaff.

Reopening Anoka’s automated car wash will add no deaths. Reopening Anoka’s Greenhaven unmanned golf course will endanger nobody. Allowing the local shoe and clothing stores to reopen is at least as safe as Walmart.

Sen. Abeler isn’t just talking. He did his homework first. His logic is irrefutable. This is the other essential point that needs to be driven home to Gov. Walz:

My townspeople are going to continue social distancing even after the executive order expires. They will follow safe guidelines and the vulnerable people will stay home.

If I were to give this section of Sen. Abeler’s speech a title, I’d give it a title like ‘Treat people like adults’. Thus far, Gov. Walz and the DFL have treated Minnesotans like children. The DFL hasn’t figured it out that Minnesotans will act in their own best interest by social distancing.

Yesterday, Gov. Walz signed an EO that ‘lets’ Minnesotans go fishing and golfing. That’s nice but it’s a shiny object tactic. Too many of the Minnesota businesses are still shut. That must stop immediately.

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