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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Liz Reyer (DFL)

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Rep. Reyer votes to provide bigger bonus checks to all frontline workers

Thursday, February 24, 2022

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, Democrats in the Minnesota House advanced a proposal to use a historic budget surplus to provide at least 667,000 frontline workers with bonus checks of up to $1,500, a top legislative priority. The bill will put money into the pockets of first responders, nurses, child care providers, janitors, and so many others who have sacrificed their health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep. Liz Reyer (DFL – Eagan) voted in favor of the bill.  

“Frontline workers have risked their own health to keep our state running during the pandemic,” said Rep. Reyer. “They have cared for patients with COVID-19, taught our kids, responded to emergencies, processed and cooked our food, provided child care, and so much more. With a positive budget balance of $7.7 billion, we have an obligation to provide frontline workers with the support that they deserve. I hope the Senate will join us so we can finally get these checks delivered to all of the Minnesotans who have earned them.” 

During the June 2021 special session, the DFL House and Republican Senate passed a compromise budget that included $250 million for frontline worker bonus pay and created a working group to make recommendations to the Legislature on how to distribute those resources. When Minnesota announced a historic $7.7 billion budget surplus in December 2021, Democrats quickly beefed up their proposal to deliver $1 billion in order to provide bigger bonus checks to all frontline workers.  

The House’s bill includes the following occupations in the definition of a frontline worker: 1) long-term care and home care; 2) health care; 3) emergency responders; 4) public health, social service, and regulatory service; 5) courts and corrections; 6) child care; 7) public schools, including charter schools, state schools, and higher education; 8) food service, including production, processing, preparation, sale, and delivery; 9) retail, including sales, fulfillment, distribution, and delivery; 10) temporary shelters and hotels; 11) building services, including maintenance, janitorial, and security; 12) public transit; 13) ground and air transportation services; 14) manufacturing; and 15) vocational rehabilitation. 

In order to receive a bonus check, workers must meet the following individual eligibility requirements: 

  • was employed in one of the frontline sectors in MN for at least 120 hours from 3/15/20 to 6/30/21 
  • was not able to work remotely due to the nature of their work, and worked in close proximity to other individuals (not in the same household); 
  • meet income restrictions. For workers providing direct care to COVID patients, max income is $350,000 (joint filers) and $175,000 (single). For all other workers, the limits are $185,000 (joint) and $85,000 (single); and 
  • did not collect more than 20 weeks of unemployment benefits from 3/15/20 to 6/30/21. 

Senate Republicans have yet to introduce a piece of legislation that delivers bonus checks to frontline workers after the Legislature promised to do so as part of budget negotiations during the June 2021 special session. Republican members of the Frontline Worker Pay Working group recommended a proposal that would leave more than half a million frontline workers without bonus checks.