Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you are all doing well. I know you’ve all accomplished a great deal this week – some of you adjusting to working from home, attending to young children, figuring out on-line school for your kids, and maybe supporting aging parents or neighbors who are shut in. It’s a lot to juggle. I know the few days of warm weather and sunshine brightened up my week as I’ve worked to help answer the many questions folks have related to their work, families, and livelihoods during this COVID-19 emergency.
Most of the issues you’ve brought to me are related to childcare support, business loans & grants, and accessing unemployment insurance. I will give you the most recent information on each of these in this week’s update:
Supporting our Childcare providers:
The grant program will be administered by Child Care Aware of Minnesota.
Complete details including eligibility, requirements, and application information can be found here: https://www.childcareawaremn.org/providers/emergency-child-care-grants/
Supporting our Businesses:
With the amount of information flowing to folks each day, it's hard to digest and sort through the different loans and grants available to small businesses. This new guide from DEED has all of the assistance information available in one place https://mn.gov/deed/newscenter/press-releases/?id=425890. Please share! If folks can't find the answers to their questions, they can call my office and I'll assist in any way I can.
Additionally, the federal government introduced some new programs in the recently signed CARES act. Here is an easy to read chart on the new loans and programs.
Supporting our employees – including the self-employed and non-profits
To access unemployment, apply on-line at https://www.uimn.org/applicants/index.jsp
Some of you may have heard about last week’s federal changes to unemployment insurance (UI). The Department of Employment and Economic Development expects to implement the new federal provisions in the following priority order:
Additional Benefits – The federal legislation “topped up” UI benefits by $600/week until July 31, 2020. Implementation and the timeline for it are currently being discussed.
Self-Employed/Independent contractors: Congress authorized a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that covers those who do not qualify for regular UI benefits. The program was authorized but must be created by the states (each state must build such a program). The program is based on one that Minnesota has run before, the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program, but we are still waiting for federal guidance on some of the program nuances including who will qualify for the benefits and how those benefits will be calculated. Minnesota will also need to determine an administrative process for how to verify self-employment in a manner which will be sufficient for the federal government. If you would like to submit an application for unemployment benefits before we receive federal guidance, please follow https://www.uimn.org/assets/application-step-by-step-instructions-selfemployed_tcm1068-425640.pdf
Extended Unemployment Insurance: The Federal bill allows UI to extend benefits for folks who have exhausted their UI benefits and for those individuals adds an additional 13 weeks of eligibility through December 31, 2020. Work has now begun on how to implement this extended benefit, and we are told that is likely to happen as the final component of the UI changes.
In addition, DEED is administratively “cleaning up” accounts where applicants recently had their benefits put on hold, so many UI applicants who have reached out with issues on their accounts should have those issues resolved.
For those with more complex issues, administrative hearings are being scheduled in April – and anyone who has an administrative hearing where an issue must be resolved should get an email letting them know that last week’s June date was incorrect and that their case will be adjudicated as soon as possible.
Finally, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of our doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals, and first-responders that are working so hard to keep us all safe and healthy. You inspire us all with your dedication to serve.
We are all in this together and things will eventually return to normal. Until then, I encourage everyone to continue to listen to the advice of the health experts and do everything you can to stop the spread of COVID-19.