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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL)

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Minnesota House passes CARES Act funding for local government and critical investments in Minnesotans

Friday, June 19, 2020

St. Paul, Minnesota — Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill to provide $841 million in federal CARES Act funding to Minnesota’s cities, counties, and towns, and make new investments in the people of Minnesota. Cities would receive $350 million in aid, counties would receive $467 million, and towns would receive $24 million. 

 

“These resources are needed by our local units of governments and the people they serve, which include small businesses, workers, families, senior citizens, veterans, law enforcement, first responders, people with disabilities, and others who need our help,” said Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth), the bill’s chief author. “We know the COVID-19 pandemic has left no stone unturned in harming our health, economy, and way of life. This legislation helps cover the huge cost of providing local services that have saved lives and are allowing Minnesota to safely and gradually reopen.”

 

In addition to direct aid to local governments, the bill includes $30 million in one-time grants to help cities, counties, and towns that are COVID-19 hotspots. 

 

In general, the federal dollars can be used for items that are a direct response to COVID-19, but cannot be used to cover a decline in revenue for a city, town or county. Counties are required to use at least 10 percent of their funding for a) emergency financial assistance for individuals (including help with overdue rent), and b) economic support for businesses (including assistance to those that closed voluntarily because of COVID). The legislation specifies that cities and towns must spend all of their aid by Nov. 15, 2020. Unexpended amounts must be sent to the home counties of these cities and towns. Counties must spend all their money by Dec. 1, 2020 and return unexpended funds to the Dept. of Revenue.

 

SF 47 also includes critically needed investments in Minnesota and Minnesotans. These include the following:

  • $21 million for increased compensation for personal care assistants (PCAs)
  • One-time assistance for low-income families in the Minnesota Family Investment Program
  • More than $38 million for continuity of service in Direct Care & Treatment programs.
  • Funding in for child care assistance necessary to bring MN into federal compliance
  • $18.5 million for overtime staffing for correctional officers
  • Nearly $9 million to reimburse counties for federal funding that was rejected regarding care provided by counties at institutions for mental illness.
  • Nearly $29 million to help the Leech Lake and White Earth bands repay overpayments they received from the federal government under Medical Assistance (MA)
  • $6 million for the Minnesota Zoo
  • $3.1 million to BCA to test and manage sexual assault examination kits, eliminate backlog
  • $4.1 million for suicide prevention and housing assistance for veterans

 

“Our local governments have responded to COVID-19, keeping Minnesotans safe. This federal funding will help ensure they can continue to provide the services Minnesotans expect and deserve as we continue to contend with the pandemic and its impacts,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “In addition to funding local governments, this bill includes temporary increases in wages for personal care assistants who care for vulnerable Minnesotans, will help prevent veteran suicides and homelessness, ensures untested rape kits get tested, and ensures we comply with federal law so we can access additional federal resources for child care. We can’t do half the job and call it done.” 

 

“Our communities, our state, and Minnesotans need these investments in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “We have to move quickly and deliver for Minnesotans, and we hope Senate Republicans will join us.” 

 

The legislation now goes back to the Senate, which can concur with the House amendments or refuse to accept the House changes and send the bill to a conference committee.