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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL)

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A Breakthrough in COVID-19 Testing

Friday, April 24, 2020

Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn

Dear Neighbors, 

I hope you and your family are healthy as we continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic in our state. In the Minnesota House, we remain hard at work, mostly from home, as we strive to deliver the resources our communities need during this trying time. 

There has been some good news this week, especially with the state working alongside the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, and Hennepin Healthcare to deliver 20,000 tests a day for COVID-19. This is exactly the kind of ingenuity and teamwork that is making Minnesota a leader in the fight against this coronavirus, and now, widespread testing will be a huge part in working toward some sense of normalcy in our communities. 

testing breakthrough

You can read more about this breakthrough on testing here.


Get Outside – Expansion of Outdoor Activities

Warmer weather is finally here, and with fresh air and Vitamin D being important for our physical and mental health, especially during the “Stay at Home” order, I encourage everyone to take advantage of the outdoor activities made available during the pandemic. 

These are the facilities that are open: 

  • Bait shops for live bait
  • Outdoor shooting ranges and game farms
  • Public and private parks and trails
  • Golf courses and driving ranges
  • Boating and off-highway vehicle services, including:
    • Marina services
    • Dock installation and other lake services
    • Boat and off-highway vehicle sales and repair, by appointment only 

Campgrounds and dispersed camping, outdoor recreational equipment retail stores, recreational equipment rental, charter boats, launches, and guided fishing remain closed.

It is recommended that we only take part in outdoor activities close to our homes. This will protect Minnesotans from spreading COVID-19 throughout the state and will also limit pressure on rural medical facilities and essential supplies. 


Updates to Unemployment Insurance

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced that the agency has fully implemented the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for eligible applications.

Updated Unemployment Info

PEUC was part of the federal CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020. You can find more information on this and other unemployment benefits here. This is the second of three CARES Act programs, which DEED has quickly implemented to help those most in need during the COVID-19 crisis. Approximately 8,000 people have exhausted or will soon exhaust their Minnesota unemployment insurance benefits. With PEUC fully implemented, those individuals will now be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance in addition to the $600 additional compensation payments was implemented earlier this month.

The final component of the CARES Act to be implemented is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which will provide unemployment benefits to self-employed individuals, independent contractors, gig workers, and others who would not normally be eligible for unemployment benefits. DEED just announced today that these PUA payments are beginning


Our Work in the Minnesota House

Last week, the Minnesota House met to pass legislation and debate necessary actions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. In adherence to recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health, and in order to properly protect our staff and other members, most legislators conducted their work remotely, or while practicing social distancing on the House floor.

One of the bills we passed was the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which ensures that Minnesotans who cannot afford their insulin and are facing an emergency need can access a 30-day supply at their pharmacy for a co-pay of $35. Eligible Minnesotans include those who are uninsured, under-insured, receiving Medicare, and who do not have access to low co-pays. The legislation also streamlines the process by which Minnesotans can access affordable insulin in the long-term. Insulin manufacturers would participate in the program and could be fined up to $3.6 million a year, doubling in the second year, for non-compliance. 

Other bills passed last week provided flexibility and clarity for state agencies and local governments to operate as efficiently as possible during the pandemic, and another that allowed takeout wine and beer with meals at Minnesota’s restaurants. My colleagues and I will continue to work towards consensus on common sense ways our state and businesses can operate in ways that do not risk the health of Minnesotans.


Abatement of property tax penalty for certain taxpayers 

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners recently approved a measure to automatically waive penalties for property tax payments. It waives penalties for late payment of the May 15 first-half property tax payment until July 15 for property taxpayers who owe less than $50,000 ($100K annually) and do not escrow.

Taxpayers that owe more than $100,000 annually are able apply for deferred payment if they can show a factual basis for waiving the penalty. Hennepin has informed taxing jurisdictions within the county of this decision and will distribute the delayed property tax revenue received by July 15th to taxing jurisdictions by the end of July. The Resolution also gives the staff the authority to take action to mitigate the effects on the taxing jurisdictions within the county if any major cash flow issues occur.


Stay Connected

The most up-to-date and accurate source of information on COVID-19 is the state’s informational dashboard on the virus:

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions on our work in the Minnesota House or the resources that are available in our community. You can leave a voicemail at (651) 296-7449 or email me at I look forward to hearing from you.




Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn

State Representative