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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL)

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Legislative Update- March 27, 2020

Friday, March 27, 2020

Rep. Youakim


Dear Neighbors,

Yesterday, Minnesota lawmakers approved a package of emergency COVID-19 bills to help protect Minnesotans’ health and economic security. The legislation passed includes, among other things, $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.

House members were instructed to follow MDH social distancing guidelines when we convened. Members sat on the House floor with empty desks between them. Other were in the alcoves, the gallery, and the rotunda. I voted from the alcove. Thank you for taking all our health and safety seriously Madame Speaker!





Below is a breakdown of the components of the legislation:


  • Modifies the Rural Finance Authority’s disaster loan recovery program to allow applications related to any highly contagious animal disease or an infectious human disease such as COVID-19, for which the Governor has declared a peacetime emergency.
  • Temporary waiver of commercial pesticide applicator requirements.



  • Flexibility to modify deadlines, licensing registrations, continuing education requirements, business filing deadlines, and other requirements for regulated entities – like insurance agents and real estate brokers – if meeting those requirements would be more difficult during a declared emergency.



  • Through Peacetime Emergency Child Care Grants, nearly $30 million will be available in one time grants to child care providers who agree to remain open throughout the peacetime public health emergency, prioritize spaces in their program for the children of essential workers, and use health and safety practices that prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a child care environment.



  •  Gov. Walz’s Food Security Supplemental Budget, which appropriates $9 million to address food security related to COVID-19. The measure supports regional food banks, allows food shelves to purchase food, diapers, toilet paper, and other necessary supplies, and supports a network of transportation organizations to assist in the distribution of food and supplies.
  •  Gov. Walz’s Homelessness Supplemental Budget, which includes $5.53 billion in housing supports and $26.5 million for Emergency Services Grants, which includes shelter space, motel vouchers, and support staff.
  •  Modifications to the 2019 Opioid Response Bill.



  • Gives the Office of Higher Education (OHE) the ability to modify or waive requirements that apply to SELF loan programs, work study programs, the state grant program, and other OHE aid and scholarships.
  •  Aligns state and federal work study guidelines to help students receive payments, even during the COVID-19 emergency.
  •  Holds state grant recipients harmless to ensure best outcomes for students.
  •  Provides flexibility to hold child care grant recipients harmless if a recipient fails to enroll or reduces enrollment because of COVID-19.



  •  A Loan Guarantee Program will provide loans from private banks to small employers (up to 250 employees). This includes bars and restaurants and will allow them to keep paying their workers, even when they shut down. $10 million from this program will leverage $25 million to $30 million in private loans to 100-200 small businesses.
  •  Small Business Emergency Loans, a program launched after a Governor Walz executive order last week, which provides 0% interest, forgivable loans to small businesses that are impacted by orders to shut down.
  •  Temporary relaxation of restrictions on Minnesota Investment Fund loans, allowing cities to make loans to restaurants, bars, lodging and retailers.
  •  Codifying into law Governor Walz’s executive order which enabled workers to receive immediate Unemployment Insurance benefits without affecting the assessment paid by businesses.



  •  Giving the Dept. of Corrections’ medical director authority make health care decisions for certain inmates lacking decision-making capacity and who are placed in an outside facility on conditional medical release, if there is not a documented health care agent already assigned.
  •  A provision allowing the DOC ability to place an inmate with 90 days or less to serve in their prison sentence in a county jail for the remainder of their term.
  •  Temporary delay of the fingerprint requirement for any background check required for essential workers during a peacetime emergency. The state’s LiveScan fingerprinting service is currently shut down due to COVID-19.



  •  A COVID-19 Emergency Fund of $200 million to be made available to state agencies to assist with the response to the outbreak. Potential expenditures would include increased staffing costs at prison facilities or costs associated with activities by the Minnesota National Guard.
  •  $11 million in grants for Minnesota’s 11 tribal nations to help the tribal nations mitigate the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
  • Waivers for workforce and equal pay certificate requirements for emergency purchasing.



  •  Pushes back the deadline for petitioners with property tax appeals from April 30th to May 30th of 2020.



  • With the federal deadline on the horizon, the legislation modifies the minimum standards to obtain a REAL ID including documents to be permitted such as a high school transcript, debit card statement, cell phone bill and more. It also extends the timeline from 90 days to one year for them to be accepted.
  •  $2.4 million to pay for a temporary increase in license staff to reach a 45 day turnaround time.
  •  A provision allowing individuals with driver’s licenses, permits, or disability parking permits that are set to expire at least two months in which to renew them following the end of our peacetime emergency.



  •  $6.2 million for the Minnesota Dept. of Veterans Affairs Soldier Assistance program, which will provide financial assistance to any veterans or surviving spouse of a veteran needing assistance as a result of the COVID-19 disaster.



We still have more work to do for Minnesotans during this pandemic. That’s why the House DFL will be continuing to work on:

  •  Pay for our hourly or contract school employees
  • Housing assistance o Workers’ comp for first responders
  •  Requests from the Chief Justice and judicial branch
  • Ensuring Minnesotans have economic security during the pandemic and into the future

Stay at Home Executive Order

Wednesday, Governor Walz issued a “Stay at Home” Executive Order directing Minnesotans to limit their movements outside of their homes. This is not an order for quarantine, however we should all stay home as much as possible to help our healthcare system prepare for more COVID-19 cases. Minnesotans can still leave their residences to pick up groceries, prescriptions, go for a walk around the neighborhood, and perform other essential tasks, but only doing so by practicing social distancing of at least six feet.

Stay At Home Can/Should Not

Workers who have been identified as essential via federal guidelines are exempted from this order. These are workers employed in the following, but not limited to, fields:

  • Healthcare and public health
  • Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders
  • Emergency shelters, congregate living facilities, drop-in centers
  • Child care
  • Food and agriculture
  • News media
  • Energy
  • Water and wastewater
  • Critical manufacturing


Stay at Home List

On Wednesday, the Governor also issued additional orders to extend the temporary closure of bars, restaurants, and other public gathering places until May 1. Schools will continue distance learning until May 4.


Keep in Touch

Please continue to reach out anytime with questions, input, or ideas. These are challenging times, but I am so proud of our community and how we’ve adjusted to this new, but temporary “normal”.





Contact me anytime at or 651-296-9889.

I am honored to represent you at the Capitol,


Cheryl Youakim