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

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Legislative Update - May 1, 2020

Friday, May 1, 2020

Rep. Howard

Dear Neighbors, 

Yesterday, Governor Walz extended Minnesota's Stay Home Order until May 18 while "turning the dial" to open more businesses that are able to do so safely. This includes extending the closures of bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation, but it also provides guidelines allowing retail businesses to operate in a limited capacity with curbside pick-up and delivery. You can watch yesterday’s COVID-19 briefing here 

Extended Order

This is the right call. By prioritizing the safety of Minnesotans while taking strategic steps forward, we can more quickly get Minnesota back to work and healthy.

Of course, this in no way lessens the sacrifices so many Minnesotans are making: our front-line workers putting themselves at-risk to care for us, small business owners who are struggling to stay afloat, students who miss their friends and their teachers.

So while we cannot make this virus go away with a snap of the finger or pretend it's not a clear and present danger, we can take action to care for the Minnesotans who are suffering at no fault of their own.

Let's stay vigilant and connected, because we are all in this together.



My colleagues and I in the Minnesota Legislature will be spending today, and the remaining weeks of session, lifting up and fighting for the Minnesotans who go to work every day to keep our state running. #WhoCaresForUs is about fighting for the economic security and rights of our state’s grocery store workers, janitors, caregivers, nurses, hourly school workers, and others.


Look for the stories being shared today by legislators, advocates, and organizations. There’s only a few weeks left of the normal legislative session, and we intend to spend it making sure these workers are properly supported as Minnesota weathers this public health crisis. 

As an example in our community, I want to raise up the heroic efforts of Lisseth DeGarcia, a nurse from Richfield who decided to spend 13 weeks in an emergency room in Queens, New York caring for people who have contracted COVID-19. Asked about her experience thus far, Lisseth said, "You’re wearing three layers of clothing, you’re sweating, you can’t see anything, you can’t breathe well yourself, but who are you to complain about having a mask on all day and not being able to breathe when these people literally can’t.”

Lisseth is a hero – as is every front-line worker who is putting their lives on the line to care for us, to feed us, and to keep us safe.

You can hear more about Lisseth’s story here.


Working Towards $100 Million in Housing Relief

A new month during this pandemic brings rent and mortgage payments that many in our state are struggling to afford. Through no fault of their own, families across our state are now struggling with housing insecurity, and efforts to support them have been a focus of mine as the vice chair of the Housing Division. We can’t expect Minnesotans to stay at home when they can’t afford their homes.

Housing Assistance

While an executive order is in effect that places a moratorium on evictions during our peacetime emergency, we need to do more to ensure Minnesotans can remain in their house or apartment. The House DFL has developed a COVID-19 Economic Security Agenda, which includes a $100 million investment in aid for renters and homeowners. This bill would:

  • prohibit landlords from charging late fees and terminating leases or failing to renew leases during the peacetime emergency, until Jan. 15, 2021;
  • require landlords of residential units to provide notice before initiating eviction actions, after the peacetime emergency ends;
  • allow defendants to request that any actions against them be dismissed if their landlord violates the provisions of the bill;
  • prevent the initiation of a foreclosure during the peacetime emergency, until Jan. 15, 2021.

The initiative is supported by the Homes for All Coalition, representing 250 Minnesota housing organizations, and the Minnesota Multi-Housing Association, which represents property management companies throughout the state. So far, the Senate Republican Majority has only supported a much smaller $30 million investment in this critical area. My DFL colleagues and I will keep pushing for a more robust package to ensure all Minnesotans have stable housing in this uncertain situation.


Unemployment Insurance for Self Employed Minnesotans

DEED has begun making Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments for self-employed, contract, and other workers. The program was enacted under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Here’s what you need to know when applying for PUA payments:

  • If you have already applied for regular unemployment benefits, you do not need to do anything extra to qualify for PUA. DEED will automatically establish a PUA benefit account for you if you are eligible.
  • If you have not applied for unemployment benefits yet, special instructions for self-employed and 1099 workers are available here. These instructions include steps you can take to make your account easily identifiable as potentially eligible for PUA.
    • If you applied for unemployment benefits without following those instructions, don’t worry – you don’t need to change anything. Your account will still be reviewed for PUA eligibility.
  • You will receive information about PUA benefits in your online account, by email, and by postal mail.
  • Applicants who receive PUA benefits will also receive the $600/week additional payment authorized by the CARES Act.
  • PUA benefits will be backdated to whenever you first became eligible due to COVID-19.

Additional information, including answers to many commonly asked questions, can be found here: COVID-19 information for self-employed people and independent contractors.


Stay Connected, Stay Informed

With warmer weather here, remember that the “Stay at Home” order doesn’t lock us in our homes. You’re encouraged to get out and get some fresh air (while adhering to social distancing). Many forms of outdoor recreation are still available during the public health crisis, such as state parks and trails, golf courses, and the businesses that support fishing and boating. You can read more in the Executive Order on available outdoor activities here

For the latest news and up-to-date information, please visit the state’s COVID-19 Dashboard. The Minnesota House website also has a COVID-19 section with information and links to helpful resources. Please feel free to continue to reach out to me with any questions or comments you have. You can reach me at or (651) 296-7158. We’re going to get through this together, and your input is greatly appreciated. 


In partnership,


Michael Howard