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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Fue Lee (DFL)

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Legislative Update - March 20, 2020

Friday, March 20, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly. The Legislature, Governor Walz, and state health officials are working on solutions to help the people of Minnesota navigate this public health crisis. Today at 2 p.m., Governor Walz will hold a news conference to update Minnesotans on our response to COVID-19. The event will be livestreamed on his Facebook page, and various radio and TV outlets will provide coverage online and over the air. This is an extremely challenging time, and the Governor has had to make a series of difficult decisions to protect the health and safety of Minnesotans. Yesterday, he signed an executive order delaying elective surgeries and procedures to help ensure resources can be directed toward the pandemic.

Here’s an update on recent developments.

Emergency Investments in Health Care

Early Tuesday morning, the Minnesota House and Senate approved a $200 million package of emergency health care response resources. The legislation creates an emergency and long-term grant program designed to respond to the needs of health care and long-term care facilities.

The funds could be used to help plan, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 in a range of ways, including:

  • the establishment and operation of temporary sites to provide testing services, treatment beds, or to isolate or quarantine affected people
  • staff overtime, the hiring of additional staff, and training or orientation
  • expenses related to the isolation or quarantine of staff

You can read more about these new investments here.

Closing Gathering Places

Earlier this week, Governor Walz issued an executive order directing many businesses where people gather to temporarily close their doors in Minnesota. These include restaurants, bars, movie theaters, gyms, museums, and many others. This was an unquestionably tough decision for the Governor to make, and as a result, workers and business owners alike are facing an uncertain economic situation for themselves and their families. As challenging as this step is, it highlights what’s at stake for us to take this epidemic seriously.

To those whose employment has been impacted by these measures, I highly encourage you to look into Minnesota’s unemployment benefits, which you can find and apply for here. To help Minnesotans receive relief quicker, Governor Walz signed an executive order eliminating the normal one-week waiting period for benefits.

It should be noted that many restaurants are able to continue business through take-out, curbside delivery, or drive-thru methods. If you’re able, consider supporting a local business for dinner sometime this week.

School Closures

The Governor declared that all schools in Minnesota be closed from March 18 through March 27 to allow school staff, teachers, and administrators to plan for the next steps during this pandemic. They are receiving guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Health on how to make sure Minnesota’s students are able to continue their studies during this pandemic. 

During this time, schools will be required to provide care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders, and other emergency workers during previously planned school days to ensure Minnesota’s first line of defense against COVID-19 can stay on the job. It also makes provisions for the continuity of mental health services and requires schools to continue providing meals to students in need.

If you have any questions on school closures or child care, please make use of the numbers and link below:

  • Call 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504 (7am-7pm daily)
  • Visit 
  • Child care providers with questions should call 1-888-234-1268 

Legislative Solutions/Change in Operations

To ensure we’re meeting social distancing guidelines, the Legislature is on a temporary recess, but we are on-call to return so we can consider legislation addressing COVID-19. While many of us are not at the Capitol, we’re still working to protect both Minnesotans’ health and their economic wellbeing. State Representatives are working on a number of measures, including:

  • Ensuring hourly workers and contract workers at our schools get paid
  • Ensuring workers have paid time off for COVID-19-related illness or business closure
  • Licensing extensions and flexibility for businesses
  • Preventing evictions and foreclosures during the pandemic
  • Forgiveness for expired driver’s licenses
  • Giving the DHS Commissioner temporary authority to keep our long term care and disability services up and running
  • Child care provider support
  • Local jobs and projects bill
  • Abatement of penalties for late income and property tax filings

Small Business Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration is working on approval for a Disaster Loan assistance program for Minnesota businesses impacted by COVID-19. This program would program provide small businesses and private nonprofits loans of up to $2 million to provide vital economic support to help small businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. For the latest information, call the SBA's disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 or visit the COVID-19 section of their website.

Informational Resources

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is the best source for accurate, up-to-date information about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have questions, please visit their website, which also has COVID-19 information in HmongSpanish, and Somali. You can also call their hotline, staffed by public health professionals from 7am-7pm daily, at 651-201-3920. MDH has also released several informational documents on the coronavirus in various languages:

COVID-19 in Amharic (PDF)

COVID-19 in Arabic (PDF)

COVID-19 in Chinese (PDF)

COVID-19 in Hmong (PDF)

COVID-19 in Karen (PDF)

COVID-19 in Russian (PDF)

COVID-19 in Somali (PDF)

COVID-19 in Spanish (PDF)

COVID-19 in Vietnamese (PDF)  

Please continue to practice the basic precautions of handwashing, covering your cough with your sleeve, and staying home when you’re sick. Also, do your best to follow social distancing guidelines by staying 6 feet apart from others and avoid congregating with large groups.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or if I can be of assistance in any way: or 651-296-4262. Be well, be healthy, and be safe.

Rep. Fue Lee