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COVID-19 Update #2: Protecting and Helping Minnesotans
The situation surrounding COVID-19 remains fluid and is changing by the day. Here are some important developments that you may have missed. And remember, please stay home if you can.
Governor Walz signs stay at home executive order
Today the Governor has signed an executive order initiating stay at home rules. This order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 27 and ends at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 10. Minnesotans may leave their residences only to perform any of the following activities, and while doing so, they should practice social distancing:
- Health and safety activities, such as obtaining emergency services or medical supplies
- Outdoor activities, such as walking, hiking, running, biking, hunting, or fishing
- Necessary Supplies and Services, such as getting groceries, gasoline, or carry-out
- Essential and interstate travel, such as returning to a home from outside this state
- Care of others, such as caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household
- Displacement, such as moving between emergency shelters if you are without a home
- Relocation to ensure safety, such as relocating to a different location if your home has been unsafe due to domestic violence, sanitation, or essential operations reasons
- Tribal activities and lands, such as activities by members within the boundaries of their tribal reservation
if you have more questions.
Governor Walz signs executive orders to halt evictions
On Monday, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-14
which will halt all evictions during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Evictions are especially devastating at a time like this not only because so many of us are financially insecure, but an increase in unhoused people during a pandemic would greatly worsen the ongoing public health crisis. The order specifies that those of use who are still able to pay rent must do so. This order will provide vital economic security for thousands of Minnesotans.
Ensuring critical services continue for state's most vulnerable
Governor Walz signed two executive orders late last week that will streamline access to public health programs and ensure the most vulnerable Minnesotans still have access to critical services during the COVID-19 crisis.
Executive Order 20-11
authorizes the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to seek federal authority to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements for federal programs, including but not limited to the Minnesota Family Investment Program, Medical Assistance, and MinnesotaCare, to ensure these programs continue providing necessary support to Minnesota families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Executive Order 20-12
allows DHS to temporarily issue waivers or modifications to state requirements to ensure that their services can be delivered to Minnesotans safely and without undue delay, protecting vulnerable Minnesotans and those who care for them. DHS provides health care coverage, programs, and services for over 1 million Minnesotans, including groups likely to be significantly impacted by COVID-19 such as older adults, individuals who have disabilities, families with children, and individuals with mental illness.
These orders largely address the issues that would have been covered by the “SF4200” bill which many home health care providers have been writing to us about. We still hope to get these provisions written into law in the near future if the Senate leadership will agree to do what is best for Minnesota.
Special enrollment period for MNsure
The MNsure marketplace has opened emergency special enrollment for uninsured/eligible Minnesotans through April 21st. If you are uninsured or underinsured I encourage you to sign up for MNsure so you can get the treatment you need during the pandemic. Enroll through MNSure
Support for Small Businesses
Governor Tim Walz announced that small businesses in Minnesota are now eligible to apply for disaster assistance through the Small Business Administration (SBA) for economic injury during the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement comes after Governor Tim Walz sent a letter to the Director of the SBA's Office of Disaster Assistance requesting that Minnesota businesses be eligible for this assistance.
The SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing during the pandemic. Small businesses may apply for a loan at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
In a similar vein Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-15 to authorize the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to establish a Small Business Emergency Loan program for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. DEED's emergency loan program will help Minnesota small business owners who need immediate assistance during COVID-19 closures.
On Wednesday, March 18, the state granted a 30-day Sales and Use Tax grace period for businesses identified in Executive Order 20-04
. Identified businesses with a monthly Sales and Use Tax payment due March 20, 2020 will have until April 20 to make that payment. These customers should still file their return by March 20. For more information, visit revenue.state.mn.us
or call 651-556-3000 or 1-800-652-657-3666.
How we are continuing to work
Last week the House moved to adjourn until April 14th, but not before we voted to set aside emergency funding for a COVID response. The House and Senate will meet in floor and committee sessions on an on-call basis through April 14. During this time period, the Legislature will only take up legislation on the House and Senate floors by agreement of the House DFL, House GOP, Senate DFL and Senate GOP caucus leaders. While we're all still working remotely, we're starting to hold committee-level working group meetings via conference calls and webinars to identify “must pass” legislation with bipartisan and bicameral support.
The House will reconvene
The Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate will reconvene on Thursday, March 26, 2020. The House will convene at noon while the Senate will convene at 2:00 pm. We will pass bipartisan COVID-19 legislation that we have been working on for nearly a week.
I encourage you all to practice staying home, and to watch this session online rather than attend in person. Members of the public can watch the House floor session on the House website, YouTube, and on TPT Minnesota. Video from all floor sessions is archived here.
Stay in Touch
Please feel free to reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-3533. If you have a friend, neighbor, or relative who wants to receive updates about the Legislature, let them know they can subscribe to my email list here. You can also follow me on facebook here. It's an honor to represent our community. Please stay in touch.
Minnesota House District 51A