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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dean Urdahl (R)

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Legislative update

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

Communication has been a mainstay of my legislative career. Times like these as we combat the COVID-19 outbreak highlight the importance of being a true public servant. I will continue working to represent the citizens of District 18A, even as the Minnesota House’s daily operations have been altered amid this pressing public safety issue.

The House formally will remain in session as the state addresses the pressing public health issue surrounding COVID-19, with meetings and floor sessions taking place on an on-call basis until April 14. Urdahl said alternate means of working will allow the House to respond to the needs of Minnesotans, while also fully complying with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines including social distancing, limiting large gatherings, telework, and increased cleaning measures necessitated by COVID-19.

Early Tuesday morning, the House approved nearly $200 million in additional funding to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill provides $50 million to the Public Health Response Contingency Account for use by providers, ambulance services, health care clinics, hospitals, and long term care facilities. It also allocates $150 million to the newly-created Health Care Response Fund for grants to providers for costs necessary for COVID-19 response. 

MDH hotlines are available to assist Minnesotans, including a public line (651) 201-3920 and a line for questions specifically related to schools and/or childcare (651) 297-1304. Several online resources also are available to help individuals stay up to date:

This outbreak is coming with great consequences for workers and business owners. The governor has issued an executive order to ensure workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have full access to unemployment benefits. According to the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program, the executive order makes applicants eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if:

  • A healthcare professional or health authority recommended or ordered them to avoid contact with others.
  • They have been ordered not to come to their workplace due to an outbreak of a communicable disease.
  • They have received notification from a school district, daycare, or other childcare provider that either classes are canceled or the applicant’s ordinary childcare is unavailable, provided that the applicant made reasonable effort to obtain other childcare and requested time off or other accommodation from the employer and no reasonable accommodation was available.

The executive order also eliminates the one week waiting period to ensure applicants have access to unemployment benefits as quickly as possible, and assures business owners that benefits paid as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will not increase their future unemployment tax rate.

If your employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the department urges you to apply for unemployment benefits online. Visit the Unemployment Insurance Program website at www.uimn.org to learn more.

In many ways, we are treading in uncharted waters with the impacts we are facing with the COVID-19 outbreak and a great many unknowns remain. The best way for us to overcome this challenge is to continue communicating, doing your part to mitigate exposure and taking advantage of resources that are available. The silver lining to the schedule changing in St. Paul is that I will be back home in the district, ready to continue assisting people as I am able and connecting them with help as needed. 

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Sincerely,

Dean

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