First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who joined Rep. Dave Pinto and I for a virtual town hall last weekend. If you didn’t get a chance to attend but want to hear the questions asked and the resources shared, please listen to the recording, linked here.
COVID-19 Assistance Bill
Yesterday, the Minnesota House and Senate passed legislation to help protect Minnesotans’ health and economic well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, the bill provides emergency loans for small businesses that are experiencing a temporary loss of revenue, grants to help child care providers continue caring for the children of emergency workers, support for food shelves, and funding for housing security. More details are available here.
This vote was another legislative step to address this public health crisis, but we know there are more issues we will need to address in the coming days, weeks, and months. House DFLers unfortunately could not reach an agreement with Senate Republicans on everything we wanted to pass, but we will continue working every day to help Minnesotans navigate this emergency.
Stay at Home Order
On Wednesday, Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan announced a stay at home executive order directing Minnesotans to limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs from Friday, March 27 at 11:59pm to Friday, April 10 at 5:00pm.
You will still be able to leave your home for essential activities like buying groceries, seeking medical care, and exercising. However, you should keep a six-foot distance between yourself and others while doing so. You also shouldn’t go to work unless you work in critical sectors that are exempt from the stay at home order. Resources to help you determine if you’re eligible for an exemption are available here.
More information about the stay at home order is available here.
Support for Small Businesses
Small businesses across Minnesota are putting the health of community members before their bottom line. For example, I recently stopped by to thank Randy Johnson, the owner of Billy’s on Grand, for giving away free meals to children 14 years old and under. In my visit, I came to learn that the promotion was over because Billy's had given away all of their inventory to customers who needed food. The store was now shut down. Randy kept a few employees on staff so that those individuals would not lose all of their income even though he himself had no revenues coming into the business. Hopefully iconic businesses like Billy’s on Grand will be able to persevere through this time and recover with the measures lawmakers are pushing to get passed.
Earlier this week, Governor Walz signed an executive order authorizing 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. Minnesota’s small businesses and independent contractors are amongst the worst hit by the pandemic. DEED’s emergency loan program will help Minnesota small business owners who need immediate assistance during COVID-19 closures. Information about this new program is available here.
Minnesota small businesses and non-profits are also eligible for loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The federal agency is accepting applications for low-interest loans of up to $2 million. Click here for more information about the loan program and how to apply.
On Monday, Governor Walz issued an executive order to halt most evictions through the duration of the public emergency declaration. All foreclosure proceedings and related evictions will be halted as well. While this order doesn’t relieve renters’ and homeowners’ obligations to make payments, it ensures that Minnesotans can remain housed to safeguard the health of themselves, their families, and others.
MNsure Special Enrollment Period
In response to the growth of COVID-19 cases, MNsure launched a special enrollment period for Minnesotans who are currently without insurance. The special enrollment period began on March 23 and runs through April 21, giving qualified individuals 30 days to enroll in health coverage through MNsure.org. You can call 651-539-2009 or 855-366-7873 with questions about enrollment or eligibility or click here to get free help from a MNsure expert assister.
Tax Filing Deadline Extended
The Minnesota Department of Revenue recently announced that the state income tax filing deadline has been extended. Minnesotans now have until July 15 to file their returns without any penalties or interest. The deadline for filing federal tax returns was pushed back to July 15 as well. More information is available here.
Please continue to share questions and feedback and let me know if I can be of assistance. The best way to reach me is via email at email@example.com or by phone at 651-296-8799.
Rep. Kaohly Her