I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy as the year comes to a close.
Here’s the latest news from the Capitol:
Economic Assistance for Small Businesses and Working Families
Last week, the Minnesota House delivered new economic assistance for small businesses and workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We passed a COVID-19 assistance package that provides $88 million of direct financial aid to businesses experiencing economic harm. Eligible businesses include restaurants, bars, coffee shops, gyms, and more. The legislation also includes $14 million of grants for movie theaters and convention centers. Another $114.5 million will go to Minnesota counties to provide grants to other affected businesses.
We took steps to protect Minnesotans’ economic security as well. The legislation we approved extended unemployment insurance for more than 100,000 workers who were on track to lose their benefits this Saturday, when funding from the federal CARES Act expires. However, Minnesota no longer needs to provide these benefits because the federal government recently agreed to extend them.
This assistance was crafted to help small businesses and working families make ends meet until the federal government provided more support. Fortunately, Congress reached a deal over the weekend and recently passed a $900 billion COVID-19 assistance package. It won’t address all of the challenges Minnesotans are facing, but it’s a good first step.
In addition, I’m happy to report that the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that high school students are eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). I had a number of people reach out to me about this issue, and I’m glad it’s been resolved. Student workers who lost their job due to COVID-19 can apply for assistance at uimn.org.
Minnesota’s Vaccine Distribution Plan
Governor Walz recently unveiled a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan which aims to quickly, equitably, and safely deliver a free vaccine to every Minnesotan who wants one. The vaccine, which isn’t mandatory, will be offered in phases in order to make the most of the initial limited supply. Health care workers and long-term care residents will be the first to receive it, followed by essential workers, seniors, and those who are more likely to become seriously ill if they contract the virus. The first vaccines in Minnesota were administered last week.
This is great news, but it will take a few months to get the vaccine to everyone who wants it. In the meantime, it’s important to continue doing all we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities, including wearing a mask, social distancing, and getting tested if feeling sick.
Stay in Touch
The holidays undoubtably look different this year. No matter how you’re celebrating, I wish you and your family a joyful and healthy holiday season. Please stay safe and well.
Sen. Chuck Wiger, Rep. Leon Lillie, and I are holding a virtual town hall on Saturday, January 9 at 10 a.m. to discuss the upcoming legislative session and hear feedback and ideas from community members. Please save the date and stay tuned for more details.
If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact me at by email email@example.com or by phone at 651-296-5363.