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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL)

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Legislative Update - April 20, 2020

Monday, April 20, 2020

Rep. Freiberg

Dear Neighbors, 

I hope you continue to stay healthy and safe during these challenging times. It hasn’t been easy, but I want to thank our community for doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state. Because of our efforts, Minnesota has become a national leader in “flattening the curve,” and we’re buying precious time for our health care professionals to prepare for the peak of the virus in our state. 

There’s a lot of talk around getting Minnesotans back to work and opening up our economy, but it’s incredibly important that we do that only once the science is on our side. We can’t afford to lose all the progress we’ve made over the last month. As we continue to hunker down and do our part, here’s an update on our work in St. Paul, and the resources available for Minnesota. 


Our Work in the Minnesota House

Last week, the Minnesota House met to debate and pass legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In adherence to recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health, and in order to properly protect our staff and other members, most legislators conducted their work remotely, or while practicing social distancing on the House floor. I was able to participate in last week’s floor votes isolated in my legislative office. 

One of the bills we passed was the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which ensures that Minnesotans who cannot afford their insulin and are facing an emergency need can access a 30-day supply at their pharmacy for a co-pay of $35. Eligible Minnesotans include those who are uninsured, under-insured, receiving Medicare, and who do not have access to low co-pays. The legislation also streamlines the process by which Minnesotans can access affordable insulin in the long-term. Insulin manufacturers would participate in the program and could be fined up to $3.6 million a year, doubling in the second year, for non-compliance. 

Alec Smith Insulin Act Graphics - House Passage

Other bills passed last week provided flexibility and clarity for state agencies and local governments to operate as efficiently as possible during the pandemic, and another that allowed takeout wine and beer with meals at Minnesota’s restaurants. My colleagues and I will continue to work towards consensus on ways our state and businesses can operate in ways that do not risk the health of Minnesotans. 


Updates to Unemployment Insurance

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced this week that the agency has fully implemented the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for eligible applications. 

Updated Unemployment Info

PEUC was part of the federal CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020. You can find more information on this and other unemployment benefits here. This is the second of three CARES Act programs, which DEED has quickly implemented to help those most in need during the COVID-19 crisis. Approximately 8,000 people have exhausted or will soon exhaust their Minnesota unemployment insurance benefits. With PEUC fully implemented, those individuals will now be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance in addition to the $600 additional compensation payments was implemented earlier this month.

The final component of the CARES Act to be implemented is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which will provide unemployment benefits to self-employed individuals, independent contractors, gig workers, and others who would not normally be eligible for unemployment benefits. DEED expects to have PUA fully operational by the end of April, but is actively encouraging those who think they are eligible for these benefits to apply online now at


Executive Order on Outdoor Activities

Last week, with warm weather slowly making its way to Minnesota, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-38, expanding the opportunities for outdoor activities in this temporary new normal of COVID-19. The new provisions are now in effect.

Under Executive Order 20-38, facilities that may reopen or remain open include:

  • Bait shops for live bait
  • Outdoor shooting ranges and game farms
  • Public and private parks and trails
  • Golf courses and driving ranges
  • Boating and off-highway vehicle services, including:
    • Marina services
    • Dock installation and other lake services
    • Boat and off-highway vehicle sales and repair, by appointment only 

Campgrounds and dispersed camping, outdoor recreational equipment retail stores, recreational equipment rental, charter boats, launches, and guided fishing remain closed.


Stay Connected

As we work to address COVID-19 in Minnesota, things can change quickly. One of the best sources of accurate and up to date information is the state’s COVID-19 informational dashboard, which you can find here. If you have any questions about our work in the Minnesota House, or the resources that are available to our community, always feel free to reach out. You can contact me at and at (651) 296-4176. (E-mail is preferred). I look forward to hearing from you. 


Stay strong, and wash your hands!


Mike Freiberg