Here is some COVID-19 news from the state level, where yesterday the Legislature approved a bill to further our COVID-19 response and earlier this week Gov. Tim Walz issued a “Stay at Home” order, effective at 11:59 p.m. today.
Over the past week, the four legislative caucuses worked together to negotiate a variety of provisions for the bill we approved related to the COVID-19 pandemic. House Republicans successfully advocated for multiple sunsets, reporting requirements, and other accountability measures. Earlier this month, the legislature approved $221 million in funding to assist with COVID-19 preparation and response.
I would like to mention one provision in the bill helps farmers by expanding eligible uses for the RFA Disaster Recovery Loan Program and the Highly Pathogenic Animal Disease Emergency accounts to include COVID-19. This will allow farmers facing tough circumstances due to COVID-19 to access already appropriated funds designed to help in times of crisis on the farm. The bill also creates an exemption in the Commercial Applicator licensing for people who will be sanitizing and disinfecting spaces in response to COVID-19. Without this exemption, a person who was recently hired to disinfect a building in response to COVID-19 would be required to carry a license and undergo training.
Overall, it was good to see the House come together in a show of unity to help fellow Minnesotans by passing this legislation today. Our work on this issue is by no means complete and my focus remains on helping constituents during this COVID-19 outbreak. We will continue communicating with families and businesses so that we may respond to issues as they arise during this challenging time.
Click this link for more details on the bill which passed the House 99-4 Thursday.
Stay at Home order
As for the Stay at Home executive order, so many constituents have been asking important questions that it is challenging to answer each directly or as quickly as I would like. While I may take some time to respond to these questions, here is an overview and some available resources:
Current closures for bars, restaurants, and other public accommodations under previous executive orders have been extended until May 1 and distance learning for schools was extended until May 4.
The Stay at Home order will limit movement outside homes beyond essential trips for two weeks, effective at 11:59 p.m. today until Friday, April 10. Click here for the full order. And here is a site with general FAQs related to Minnesota’s Stay at Home order.
The order allows Minnesotans to leave their residences only to perform any of the following activities and while doing so they should practice social distancing: Health/safety activities, outdoor activities, purchasing necessary supplies and services like groceries and medicine, essential and interstate travel, care of others, displacement, relocation to ensure safety. This is not a comprehensive list.
Workers who provide critical services are exempt for the purposes of traveling to their jobs. This list includes: Healthcare and public health; law enforcement, public safety, and first responders; child care, food, and agriculture, news media, energy, water and wastewater, critical manufacturing.
This, again, is not a comprehensive list, and Minnesotans should visit this linkfor additional guidance.
If your business is currently considered non-essential and you would like to request an exemption from the Stay at Home order, please submit a request to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development here. And this link provides information from DEED regarding the Emergency Loan Program for Minnesota Small businesses that recently was created.
Please reach out to me if you have questions or if I can assist you in any way. I will keep you posted as further legislative action is considered. Until next time, please be safe and stay healthy.