Greetings from the Floor,
The Legislature passed two bills early Tuesday morning with strong bipartisan support to address COVID-19 and U.S. Highway 14 in southern Minnesota. SF4334 creates a healthcare response fund and appropriates $150 million into this fund. Money in the fund can be used for grants to healthcare providers to prepare for a response to the coronavirus and to set up temporary healthcare facilities. The bill also appropriates $50 million to the public health response contingency account, and modifies the account to allow for more emergency uses. Lastly, the bill changes telehealth law to allow for the use of telemedicine in patients’ homes.
SF3878 allows the Department of Transportation to apply for federal grant dollars and enter into federal contracts to make improvements to Highway 14 between Nicollet and New Ulm. Both bills passed with strong bipartisan support.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced this morning that the deadline to file and pay federal income taxes for all individuals and businesses is extended to July 15. The Minnesota Department of Revenue (Revenue) is reviewing the IRS’s decision and exploring ways to help Minnesota taxpayers in this difficult time. Revenue has already decided to delay by 30 days Sales and Use Tax payments to the state for any businesses that had payments due March 20 and were impacted by Gov. Walz Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-08. Please follow my legislative Facebook page as I will be sure to post any updates I receive from Revenue.
It goes without saying that these are unprecedented times around the world. We all must take this very seriously and pay close attention to the guidance and warnings of public health officials. My email update last week reported 9 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Minnesota. Today that number is reported at 115 with two patients in intensive care. A positive case of COVID-19 was reported in Clay County yesterday, and a state House of Representatives staffer tested positive. Wash your hands thoroughly, cover sneezes and coughs with your sleeves, stay home if you don’t have to go out (especially if you’re sick and stock up on supplies), keep a distance from others and seek medical care if you experience symptoms beyond those of a cold or flu (fever, dry cough and chest pains or tightness in the chest are all symptoms of COVID-19). We don’t need to panic because we will get through this, but we do need to understand that we are going to have to change our day to day lives for the time being to contain this virus. Severely limiting the amount of contact we have with each other is the only way to truly contain this virus (short of a vaccine). Congressional and legislative elected officials are working hard and as quickly as possible to develop policy responses to contain the coronavirus and help impacted people. I encourage folks to follow my legislative Facebook page as I’m continually posting updates I receive from Gov. Walz and his administration. Stay safe, be smart and stay healthy.
Thank You for the Opportunity to Serve,