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COVID-19 Update #3: Support for Minnesota's Communities
My colleagues and I gathered last Thursday in the Legislature to pass emergency legislation to help Minnesota get through these uncertain times. I was awestruck by the lengths we went to to pass this legislation while following the Minnesota Department of Health's guidelines to keep each member and staff person as safe as possible. From the skeleton crew of staff, to the mandatory 6 feet of distance between individuals, to the sense of the gravity of the situation, that floor session will go down as one of the most memorable in my time as your Representative. I encourage you to watch our discussion
of the bill to get an idea of what it was like.
House approves funding for emergency COVID-19 bills
I voted with my colleagues to approve the package of emergency COVID-19 bills
to help protect Minnesotans' health and economic security. The legislation includes, among other things, $200 million toward the newly created state COVID-19 Fund, $9 million to the Department of Human Services for food security, $26.5 million for the Emergency Service Grants program to provide shelter for Minnesota’s homeless population, $30 million in one-time grants to child care providers, $10 million for small business loans, financial relief for Minnesota’s workers, and the necessary flexibility for state agencies to respond to the pandemic.
Here are some of the most-important things the emergency bills do:
Jobs & Veterans:
We are working to make sure that Minnesotans can get out on the other side of this pandemic in as similar a financial position as they were in before.
Health and Human Services:
- Provides funds for the Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) to guarantee private loans to small businesses to allow them to keep paying their workers, even when they shut down
- Temporarily relaxes Minnesota Investment Fund restrictions to allow cities to make loans to small businesses in their area
- Safeguards Gov. Walz's executive order making it easier for Minnesota workers to access unemployment benefits during a declared emergency
- Adds $6.2 million to provide financial assistance to veterans or their surviving spouse needing assistance due to the COVID-19 emergency
Now more than ever we need to stand up for our most vulnerable to ensure they don’t suffer disproportionately during this crisis.
- Expands support for 400 local food shelves and seven regional food banks
- Increases housing assistance for elderly, low-income, and disabled Minnesotans
- Increases aid for emergency shelters and nonprofits serving homeless Minnesotans
- Improves access to medical supplies and prescription drugs
We are taking steps to ease processes surrounding licensing and to help ensure folks in our justice system are living in healthy environments.
- Expands the types of documents that can be used to obtain a REAL ID
- Provides funds to increases vehicle licensing staff levels
- Extends deadlines at no additional fee to renew driver’s licenses, permits, or disability parking permits that expire during the declared emergency
- Authorizes the Medical Director of the Department of Corrections, to make health care decisions inmates lacking decision-making capacity
- Allows an inmate with 90 days or less to serve on their sentence to be placed in a county jail or detention center
- Allows the BCA to temporarily delay fingerprinting for background checks required for persons classified as essential workers during a declared emergency
It is critical that our child care services remain in a state where they can continue to care for our children. These provisions should go a long way to making sure our child care facilities stay strong and healthy for our children.
- Provides $30 million in one-time grants to child care providers who:
- Agree to remain open throughout the declared emergency
- Prioritize spaces in their program for the children of essential workers
- Use health and safety practices that prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a child care environment
- Providers that serve children during nonstandard hours, children whose first language is not English, or children with special needs will be eligible for additional grants.
- Total grant amounts will be based upon provider capacity to serve children during the declared emergency.
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