I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. Today at noon, the Minnesota House is meeting to vote on several bills related to COVID-19. More information about the measures that we’ve been working on is available here. You can watch the House floor session live here.
Stay at Home
Governor Walz has issued an executive order directing Minnesotans to stay at home and limit movements outside our homes. The order takes effect on Friday, March 27 at 11:59 p.m. and ends on Friday, April 10 at 5 p.m.
Minnesotans will be able to leave their homes for essential activities, but they should maintain a six-foot distance between themselves and others while doing so. People shouldn’t go to work unless they work in certain sectors, including, but not limited to:
- Health care and public health
- Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders
- Emergency shelters, congregate living facilities, and drop-in centers
- Child care
- Food and agriculture
- News media
- Water and wastewater
- Critical manufacturing
The Governor also implemented a Distance Learning Period for Minnesota students from March 30 through May 4 and extended the temporary closure of restaurants, bars, and other gathering places until May 1.
Support for Small Businesses Available
Many small businesses are experiencing sudden financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) has launched an Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to help small businesses and nonprofits overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The federal agency is accepting applications for loans of up to $2 million. For more information, click here or call the SBA’s disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955.
On Monday, Governor Walz announced that the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has established a Small Business Emergency Loan program to provide immediate assistance to Minnesota businesses. Loans will be between $2,500 and $35,000, 50 percent forgivable, and offered at a 0 percent interest rate. More information is available here.
MNsure Special Enrollment Period
In response to the growth of COVID-19 cases, Governor Walz and MNsure launched a 30-day special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance. The special enrollment period began on Monday, March 23 and runs through Tuesday, April 21, giving uninsured Minnesotans 30 days to enroll in health coverage through MNsure.org. MNsure has a statewide network of expert assisters to provide free help to applicants. You can find one here or call the MNsure Contact Center at 651-539-2099 or 855-366-7873 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for assistance.
Price Gouging Ban
In response to reports of essential goods being sold at excessive and prohibitive prices, Governor Walz signed an executive order that prohibits price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order, which went into effect on Saturday, March 21, applies to food, water, gas, housing and shelter, transportation, health care goods and services, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, cleaning products, and other essential goods.
Minnesotans can report price gouging to the Attorney General’s Office by filling out an online complaint form, linked here, or calling 651-296-3353. When reporting suspected price gouging, it’s particularly helpful if you provide receipts and/or photos of the listed prices you believe are excessive.
Governor Walz also signed an executive order to suspend most eviction proceedings. This order will help Minnesotans stay safe and stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need help finding or paying for housing, additional information is available here.
Income Tax Filing Deadline Extended
The Minnesota Department of Revenue recently announced that taxpayers now have until Wednesday, July 15 to file their income tax returns for 2019 without any penalties or interest. The deadline for federal tax returns was also pushed back to July 15. More information is available here.
Make Your Voice Heard
While meeting in person isn’t practical at this time, I’m committed to providing opportunities for Minnesotans to weigh in. If you want to share your feedback with legislators, you can submit it by using a form here on the House’s COVID-19 webpage. You can also call or email me anytime! I appreciate your input.
I’m so grateful to the health care and emergency workers, child care providers, grocers, utility workers, and others who are keeping essential services going. I’m also inspired by all of the Minnesotans who are offering their time, money, and support to those in need. Here are a few resources and volunteer opportunities in our area:
- White Bear Lake Area Schools has partnered with the St. Catherine University Nursing Department to provide a free Bear Care Health & Wellness Clinic. The clinic will be open to all district students from birth to 21 and will provide physical exams, strep tests and treatment, ear infection tests and treatment, and more. More details are available here.
- White Bear Lake Area Schools has also set up a Support Hub with information about mental health and well-being, crisis services, community resources, and more. It’s a great place to find support during these challenging and uncertain times. The website is available here.
- Ordering takeout or delivery or purchasing a gift card is a great way to help local small businesses. The White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce compiled a list of small businesses that are still open for takeout and curbside pickup. You can check it out here.
- The White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf has seen an increase in families seeking their help. If you’re interested in contributing, you can donate online here.
- Meals on Wheels has a growing need for volunteer drivers. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Meals on Wheels Specialist Debbie Walker at 651-653-3153.
Please continue to share your questions and input and let me know if I can be of assistance. You can reach me at email@example.com or 651-296-3018.