I hope you’re all staying healthy and staying home. This week, my colleagues and I passed three important bills to assist Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act
The cost of insulin has skyrocketed in the last 10 years, forcing thousands of people to ration the lifesaving medicine. On Tuesday, we passed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, legislation that will help Minnesotans get the insulin they need at a price they can afford. Many Minnesotans fought tirelessly for this important legislation, and I was honored to vote for it.
The Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which is named after a young man who lost his life because he was forced to ration insulin due to the cost, ensures that people who can’t afford their insulin and are in urgent need can access an emergency 30-day supply at their pharmacy for a co-pay of $35. It also includes measures to help those who need long-term assistance. You can find more information here.
COVID-19 Response Legislation
We also approved our fourth COVID-19 response bill. This legislation provides needed flexibility and assistance to Minnesotans. It allows local governments to meet remotely, suspends certain deadlines and expiration dates, expands use of telemedicine, gives the Department of Health authority to set up alternative health care facilities, allows marriage applications to be submitted without the need to appear in person, and more. More details are available here.
Takeout Beer and Wine
We’re working on getting our economy up and running without putting Minnesotans’ lives at risk. Today, we passed legislation that will allow restaurants and bars to sell takeout beer and wine with food orders. Many business owners, workers, and customers have asked for this change since these businesses closed to dine-in customers, and I’m glad we were able to deliver. More information about this change is available here.
Extended Unemployment Benefits
Minnesota was one of the first states in the nation to implement the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides a 13-week extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits for eligible workers. If you’ve exhausted or will soon exhaust your unemployment benefits, you can find step-by-step instructions to apply for the extended benefits here or within your online account.
Unemployment Benefits for Self-Employed and Contract Workers
Thanks to a new federal program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), unemployment benefits will soon be available for people who are self-employed and contract workers. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is working with the U.S. Labor Department to get a new system up and running so these payments can be made.
In the meantime, self-employed and contract workers should follow the steps outlined here to apply for Unemployment Insurance here. The UI system will likely deny your application, but DEED will flag your account and follow up with you when the PUA program is ready at the end of April.
Expanded Recreation Opportunities
This morning, Governor Walz issued an executive order to expand outdoor recreational activities, including golfing, boating, fishing, hunting, and hiking. Thanks to these changes, Minnesotans will be able to continue spending time outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we should all stay close to home, avoid crowded areas, and maintain a six-foot distance from others while enjoying the outdoors. You can read the executive order, which contains a list of businesses that will be allowed to reopen or remain open, here.
Please take care of yourself and your loved ones. If I can be of assistance, please call me at 651-296-9934 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.