The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a lot of uncertainty, and I know that many of you have questions about what the coming days and weeks might look like. While an in-person town hall isn’t possible at this time, your Senate District 61 team is still eager to hear your questions, feedback, and suggestions.
With that in mind, Senator Scott Dibble, Representative Frank Hornstein, and I are holding a Facebook Live town hall on Monday, March 30 at 8 p.m. More information about the virtual town hall is available here on the Facebook event page. If you have any questions that you’d like us to address, please feel free to email us ahead of time. We look forward to hearing from you!
COVID-19 Assistance Legislation
Yesterday, we passed a package of legislation to help protect Minnesotans’ health and economic well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, the legislation provides emergency loans for small businesses, grants for child care providers who care for the children of health care professionals and other essential workers, support for food shelves, and funding for housing security. More information is available here.
While this legislation will provide much-needed relief to Minnesotans who are struggling, the Senate refused to agree with the House on funding for rental assistance, workers comp for public safety and health workers, and requiring that hourly workers at school be paid. There is more to do, and we will keep pushing hard to protect Minnesotans during this critical time.
Stay at Home Order
Governor Walz has issued an executive order directing Minnesotans to stay at home and limit movements outside their homes. The order takes effect today at 11:59 p.m. and ends on April 10 at 5 p.m.
You will still be able to leave your home for essential activities like buying groceries, seeking medical care, and exercising. However, you should keep a six-foot distance between yourself and others while doing so. You also shouldn’t go to work unless you work in critical sectors that are exempt from the stay at home order. Resources to help you determine if you’re eligible for an exemption are available here.
The Governor also implemented a Distance Learning Period for Minnesota students and extended the temporary closure of restaurants and other gathering places. A full list of the executive orders that he has issued is available here.
Evictions and Foreclosures Suspended
On Monday, Governor Walz announced he was suspending all evictions due to failure to pay rent starting on March 24. All foreclosure proceedings and related evictions will be halted as well. While this executive order doesn’t cancel rent or mortgage payments, it ensures that Minnesotans can remain in their homes if they aren’t able to meet these obligations.
MNsure Special Enrollment Period
In response to the growth of COVID-19 cases, MNsure launched a special enrollment period for Minnesotans who are currently without insurance. The special enrollment period began on March 23 and runs through April 21, giving qualified individuals 30 days to enroll in health coverage through MNsure.org. For any questions about enrollment or eligibility, please call 651-539-2009 or 855-366-7873 or click here to get free help from a MNsure expert assister.
Support for Small Businesses
Minnesota small businesses and non-profits are now eligible for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The federal agency is accepting applications for low-interest loans of up to $2 million. Click here for more information about the loan program and how to apply.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will be offering loans between $2,500 and $35,000 through the Small Business Emergency Loan program. Information about this new program is available here.
Price Gouging Prevention
In response to reports of essential goods being sold at excessive and prohibitive prices, Governor Walz signed an executive order that prohibits price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order, which went into effect on March 21, applies to food, water, gas, housing and shelter, transportation, health care goods and services, cleaning products, and other essential goods. Minnesotans can report suspected price gouging to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office by filling out an online complaint form here or calling 651-296-3353 or 800-657-3787.
Tax Filing Deadline Extended
The Minnesota Department of Revenue recently announced that the state income tax filing deadline has been extended. Minnesotans now have until July 15 to file their returns without any penalties or interest. The deadline for filing federal tax returns was pushed back to July 15 as well. Additional information is available here.
Free WiFi Service in Minneapolis
USI Wireless has opened up their networks for free use in Minneapolis. For free access, connect to “USI Wireless” or “City of Minneapolis Public WiFi.” A map of WiFi hotspots in Minneapolis can be found here, and more information on this service can be found here.
Please keep sharing your questions and input and let me know if I can be of assistance. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-5375.