This week, my colleagues and I passed a bill to help Minnesotans keep a roof over their heads, preserve their small businesses, access distance learning and telemedicine, and care for vulnerable residents. The bill invests in housing assistance, which would help Minnesotans make payments on rent, mortgages, utility bills, and property taxes. It also invests in forgivable emergency loans for small businesses. Many businesses will need this support to keep operating after this crisis.
The bill would help people and communities without adequate access to broadband as well. It includes funding to provide students with equipment they need to access online learning materials and to reimburse health care providers and counties that purchase telemedicine equipment.
The bill also increases wages for personal care attendants. PCAs care for people with disabilities, seniors, and other vulnerable Minnesotans, and they’re experienced many new challenges due to COVID-19. This wage increase is well deserved and long overdue. More information about this legislation is available here.
Like many Minnesotans, legislators are finding new ways to get our work done while following public health guidelines. In the past few weeks, I’ve voted from the House floor, my office, and even a parking ramp next to the Capitol.
Many hourly school workers are facing financial uncertainty because of the transition to distance learning. On Monday, we passed legislation to ensure paraprofessionals, nutrition services staff, bus drivers, and other hourly school employees workers get paid through the end of the school year. These workers are still providing valuable services and support to our students, and they deserve to be compensated. You can read more about this bill here.
We also passed a bipartisan bill to protect the health and safety of election officials and voters. It allows our state to use federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds to prepare for increased absentee voting, open new polling locations, purchase sanitation and disinfectant supplies, and provide public outreach. HAVA funds will also be used to protect our election system from hackers and foreign interference. You can find more information here.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits are now available for self-employed workers, independent contractors, and others who aren’t eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance. If you’ve already applied for unemployment benefits, you don’t need to do anything extra to qualify for PUA. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will contact you if you’re eligible for these benefits. If you haven’t applied yet, special instructions for self-employed people and independent contractors are available here. Additional information, including answers to frequently asked questions, can be found here.
I hope that you and your family are safe and healthy! Please take care and look for ways to support a neighbor or anyone that might need a little help.