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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

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Legislative Update - March 20, 2020

Friday, March 20, 2020

Rep. Howard

Dear Neighbors,

As thing continues to change rapidly, be mindful of sources of information, especially if it’s an email, phone call, or letter offering something that seems too good to be true. The Minnesota Department of Commerce has resources available for identifying and reporting scams, which you can find here

I also wanted to share (again) a very useful compilation of numbers and links to help answer various pandemic-related questions. 

MN House Proposals

How we do our work at the Minnesota Legislature has drastically changed, but the work still remains. My colleagues and I 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


The Legislature recently passed — and Governor Walz signed into law — funding for emergency health care preparedness and response:

  • Initial $21 million for the Public Health Response Contingency Account
  • Additional $50 million for the Public Health Response Contingency Account
  • $150 million in grant funding for our health care providers for costs related to planning, preparing, and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak


The latest from Governor Walz includes granting Emergency Authority to the Department of Human Services (DHS), regulations preventing price gouging, and opening MNsure for enrollment.

  • Preventing the spread of COVID-19 requires swift, decisive action, and granting Emergency Authority to DHS allows those decisions to be made. DHS will have the ability to waive or modify some state-level requirements, but will still need to report these to the Legislature.
  • Price gouging, drastically raising the price of essential products, is prevented by law in many states already. Governor Walz’s emergency powers allow him to implement these needed regulations.
  • A 30-day special enrollment period for MNsure will start Monday, the 23rd. You can take advantage of this at

Public input on our work remains essential, and as we work to find a way to best do that in the time of social distancing, please continue to reach out to me with any questions or comments you have. Feel free to reach out via phone, (651) 296-7158, or email, I look forward to hearing from you. 

Be kind to one another (from a recommended 6 feet) and wash your hands.


In partnership,

Michael Howard