I would like to pass along information on a couple of developments at the state level regarding COVID-19, 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.
The bill which passed yesterday includes numerous special provisions designed to help people through the governor’s shutdown as we battle through the COVID-19 pandemic.
I do have some reservations to parts of the bill as it was approved. For instance, the $200 million creating a COVID-19 fund gives the governor broad discretion on how the money is spent. However, unlike the last bill, there will be a legislative commission that will provide some oversite.
The Legislature will have to reallocate unspent funds after 45 days. My hope is this will ensure the money can only be spent on issues surrounding COVID-19. There are provisions in place protecting against using funds for anything not related to the virus.
But there are some other important provisions in the bill as well, including:
I have strong concerns over our state’s economy and for what’s next in the way of recovery. Our businesses and communities have made huge sacrifices. They will need relief from regulations, both state and federal. We need to begin work on this now. I encourage these businesses to contact me with suggestions. Also individuals should have relief from impositions imposed on them as well.
And I encourage folks to shop locally. Now more then ever our small towns need to stick together. I fear if this continues much longer many businesses will not survive.
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 last two weeks and will limit movement outside homes beyond essential trips for two weeks. It is 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 link for 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.
I understand the stress, confusion and anxiety that many Minnesotans are feeling during this uncertain time. Please know that legislators at the state and federal level are working together to provide assistance to families and businesses.
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.