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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FROM REP. STEVE DRAZKOWSKI - DISTRICT 21-B

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Hello, friends. I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on some of the recent news regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.

HF 4537: Workers Compensation

Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted to establish workers compensation benefits for first responders during the COVID-19 outbreak. The bill, known as HF 4537, will give benefits to police officers, fire fighters, healthcare workers, childcare workers, and others if they suffer injury due to the contraction of coronavirus in the course of their duties. Additionally, if one of these workers passes away due to coronavirus, this bill will give benefits to the family of that individual.

I voted in favor of HF 4537. I believe we must support the brave men and women who are on the front lines fighting this virus. Many individuals are putting their health and safety on the line during this pandemic. Removing real inhibitions will allow our emergency workers to do their jobs effectively. This represents a strong, genuine public interest. While I struggled with how broadly the bill was written, our volunteer firefighters needed us to have their backs in this fight against this invisible enemy.

COVID-19: The Latest Information

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested our public health, our economy, and our perseverance. Our state has made amazing sacrifices to stop the spread of the disease. However, while some Minnesotans have suffered due to the disease itself, even more have suffered in their health and their economic future due to the government’s response to the disease. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

First, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has adjusted their predicted COVID-19 death toll for Minnesota. Governor Walz originally stated that Minnesota would see 74,000 deaths if government didn’t shut down much of our economy. He said the death toll could be lowered to 50,000-55,000 deaths if much of our state were shut down. However, The University of Washington has developed an estimate for every state. Originally, they projected 932 deaths in the next four months. Now, that projection is down to 625.

Additionally, Governor Walz reported that Minnesota has a confirmed case rate of roughly 17 cases per 100,000 individuals. This is the lowest confirmed case rate of all 50 states.

Obviously, this is a rapidly developing situation. However, I believe figures such as these show that there is hope. In the coming days, Governor Walz has said he will reexamine his “stay-at-home” order. We should encourage him to reopen certain segments of Minnesota’s economy, which many believe can be done without jeopardizing the public health.

Dairy Farmer Support

Dairy farmers across Minnesota are attempting to deal with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak. With supply chain disruptions and closed schools, Minnesota dairy farmers are having a tough time moving their product and keeping their business going. One Wisconsin creamery is placing limits on the amount of milk that they will take from our area’s dairy farmers. Some farms have already been forced to dump milk due to the economic strife caused by this pandemic.

Minnesota lost 300 dairy farmers last year alone, and the COVID-19 outbreak will only exacerbate the loss of dairy farmers. We must do all we can to protect this vibrant and environmentally beneficial industry in our state.

I have been in touch with our state’s agriculture commissioner and other legislators about this issue. The agriculture department is working on marketing options to try to help in the short term. Evidence that we need to reopen our economy is very clear on our area dairy farms.

Fortunately, dairy farmers are eligible to receive assistance from the state government. The Minnesota Legislature has authorized the use of the Disaster Loan Recovery Program to help farmers impacted by COVID-19. This loan program is administered by the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Specifically, the loans in this program can be used to cover loss of revenue, replacement of farm structures, replacement of livestock, and many other items.

Information for the loan can be found at the following link: https://www.mda.state.mn.us/disasterloan

Contact:

If you have any questions regarding COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to contact me or my office. My email address is Rep.Steve.Drazkowski@house.mn. Additionally, please reach out to my Legislative Assistant, Luke, with any questions. Luke’s email is Luke.Sprinkel@house.mn. Emailing is the fastest way to get in contact with me. Contact me anytime with questions or concerns.

Rep. Drazkowski - Signature

Steve Drazkowski

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