Assistance for Small Businesses and Working Families
The measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 are saving lives, but we need to make sure that those measures are balanced with assistance for the small businesses and working families they impact. To that end, my colleagues and I in the Minnesota Legislation Legislature have been spending the past month putting together a bipartisan package of economic assistance legislation, which has now been signed into law. It’s not perfect, but while the federal government has more resources to more fully address the issues facing our community, they were simply moving too slow in their response for Minnesotans.
The package of COVID-19 assistance legislation we passed last week isn’t a fix-all solution, but it does provide a lifeline for those struggling to get by until federal relief can arrive. The bill includes a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance and direct financial support for businesses. The Department of Revenue estimates that 5,800 small businesses will receive $82-88 million beginning before the end of the year. Another $114.5 million will be distributed to counties to provide grants to impacted businesses, and movie theaters and convention centers will receive $14 million. In this bill, Hennepin County would receive just over $25.2 million for small business grants.
You can find more information on applying for unemployment here, and you can find specifics on eligible businesses, program requirements, and payment amounts here.
Minnesota’s Vaccine Plan
Last week, Minnesota received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine. Since we’ll have a limited supply for the time being, we’ll be following a strict plan that has been put in place in partnership with the federal government to make sure we’re making the most of this vaccine. You can view Minnesota’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan here, which was formulated with the goal of making the process as quick, equitable, and safe as possible.
The first to receive the vaccine in Minnesota will be health care workers and long-term care residents, followed by essential workers, seniors, and people with preexisting conditions that are more likely to become seriously ill with this virus. While the arrival of the vaccine is incredibly good news, we’re still a long way from it becoming available to all who want one. In the meantime, it’s important that we continue adhering to the public health guidelines that have kept our communities safe - social distancing, hand washing, wearing a mask, and getting tested when we feel sick.
Help Name a Snowplow
To celebrate the winter season, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is holding a contest to name a snowplow within its fleet. The contest has already produced names like Kent Brrrbek; Duck, Duck, Gray Truck; and Bobsled Dylan. The top eight will be compiled in February for a final vote to name the plow. Click here to submit your idea before January 22.