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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Legislative update

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

There is once again a lot to report in this week’s legislative update, starting with a downturn in our state’s economic trajectory caused by the impacts of – and responses to – the COVID-19 outbreak.

Below are more notes on that subject and more but, before we get to those, I’d like to send wishes for a happy Mother’s Day and good luck in the fishing opener as we prepare to celebrate those events this weekend. It goes without saying the current circumstances may throw a wrench into traditions and I hope you are able to find different ways to enjoy those holidays.

Here is more on the state’s current state of affairs:

Economic update

Minnesota Management and Budget on Tuesday released an interim budget projection showing the state faces a nearly $2.43 billion deficit for the remainder of the current biennium, which ends June 30, 2021. It’s the first time the number is in the red since the Great Recession.

The new number represents a nearly $4 billon change from what was projected just a couple of months ago. The full forecast released in February projected a $1.5 billion budget surplus. Because the next forecast is not scheduled until November, this projection has limited updated estimates of expected revenues and expenses. It also reflects appropriations enacted this session.

These numbers show the state is suffering financial difficulties right along with families and businesses throughout Minnesota. When businesses are not taking in earnings and people are seeing their income reduced or eliminated, it translates to a reduction in state revenue. That is a major reason the governor should start working with the legislature to help create a path forward to safely re-open our economy and make tough decisions regarding state spending given the realities we face.

Ag webinar re: meat and poultry processing markets

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is hosting a one-hour webinar 9 a.m. Friday to answer questions about expanding local meat and poultry processing markets in Minnesota and discuss how we can adapt Minnesota’s meat and poultry supply chain in response to the current pandemic. Topics of discussion will include the MDA’s inspection requirements, grant opportunities, and marketing assistance programs. Here is more.

Disaster loans available for ag workers

Agricultural workers are urged to consider expanded U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans that are now available to help them mitigate damages resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SBA announced this week that agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s EIDL and EIDL Advance programs. The SBA’s EIDL portal is open as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation provided additional funding for farmers and ranchers and certain other agricultural businesses affected by COVID-19.

The SBA indicates it will begin accepting new EIDL applications on a limited basis only, in order to provide unprecedented relief to U.S. agricultural businesses. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL loan application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will move forward and process these applications without the need for re-applying. All other EIDL loan applications that were submitted before the portal stopped accepting new applications on April 15 will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis.

More information is available at this link.

Elective procedures

On Tuesday, the governor announced Executive Order 20-51, which allows hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and clinics – whether veterinary, medical, or dental – to resume many currently delayed procedures. These expanded services may occur once facilities have developed criteria for determining which procedures should proceed during the COVID-19 pandemic and have provided a plan to maintain a safe environment for facility staff, patients, and visitors. House Republicans urged the governor to take this step in a letter dated April 29, so it is good to see him respond this week.

Have a good weekend and, as always, let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Sincerely,

Chris

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