This afternoon Governor Walz, along with the governors of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, have announced that they will work in close coordination to responsibly reopen the Midwestern economy. In analyzing the current crisis, the governors will look at these four factors:
By working together, our states can more effectively make decisions based on facts, science, and recommendations from experts in health care, business, labor, and education. I invite you to visit the state COVID-19 dashboard for up-to-date information about the pandemic. Additionally, the Minnesota House website’s COVID-19 section has information about steps the Legislature has taken, as well as links to helpful resources.
Here are some other updates from the Capitol.
After months of work toward a bipartisan consensus, this week the House and Senate both passed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act and Governor Walz signed the measure into law. The law is named after Alec Smith, a young man from Richfield who tragically passed away because he was forced to ration his insulin. He had $1,000 in his bank account, but the prescription cost $1,300, and he was just trying to make it to the next payday. Unfortunately, that payday never came. In this country, no family should have to experience a tragedy like this.
The legislation will ensure 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 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.
This week the House also approved another package COVID-19 related legislation – our fourth since the pandemic emerged. As we continue working to adapt to the realities of this crisis, the bill delivers some flexibility and assistance that Minnesotans need right now. The legislation will help Minnesotans execute wills, allows local governments to meet remotely, suspends certain deadlines and expiration dates, allows marriage applications to be submitted without the need to appear in person, expands use of telemedicine, gives the Department of Health authority to set up alternative health care facilities, and more. A copy of the legislation can be found here.
Yesterday, April 15, is traditionally Tax Day. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minnesota Department of Revenue has extended the deadline by three months to July 15 to file and pay 2019 Minnesota Individual Income Tax without any penalty and interest. The IRS has similarly pushed back the deadline for federal individual and business returns to July 15.
Especially if you have a refund coming your way, it makes sense to file ahead of time. Learn more from the Department of Revenue here.
As spring weather starts to emerge with warmer temperatures, for many folks in our community, heating bills still pose a challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic struggles have only served to exacerbate this burden, and help is available for families impacted. The Minnesota Department of Commerce has made changes to the eligibility requirements and application deadlines for the state’s Energy Assistance Program’s (EAP). The new application deadline is July 1, and the annual crisis maximum has been increased to $1,200, up from $600. The EAP can help households pay a past due bill, even without a shut-off notice, and eligibility is now based on the past one month only.
Grants are based on household size, income, and fuel cost, with the average grant being about $500. In addition to the initial grant, funds are available to help pay a past due bill or get an emergency fuel delivery and help repair or replace broken furnaces. For more information, visit the Department of Commerce online.
Please reach out to me if I can be of any assistance by phone at 651-296-4262 or email at email@example.com. We will all pull through this together.