Today, Governor Tim Walz issued a “Stay at Home” order effective starting this Friday. For two weeks, Minnesotans are asked to stay home except for essential travel such as health and safety activities, outdoor activities, or getting necessary supplies like food. One of the main goals of this order is to buy us time to increase capacity within our health care system, especially the number of ICU beds and ventilators. The Governor also extended the period in which bars, restaurants and gathering places will be closed until May 1, and schools will implement distance learning until May 4.
Two residents of Johanna Shores, a senior living facility in Arden Hills, have tested positive for COVID-19. I wish the afflicted individuals and their families all the best. With the condition now in our community, it highlights how important it is for everyone to follow directions from the Governor, the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC to practice social distancing and stay home.
Lawmakers continue to work, in consultation with Governor Walz, on solutions to keep Minnesotans safe and healthy. While the Minnesota House remains in a recess, we are on call to return to the Capitol and enact legislation in a manner that is safe under CDC and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines. My colleagues and I are also responding to many questions and concerns from constituents. Please continue to reach out to me; my contact information is below.
The Minnesota Department of Health remains the best resource for accurate, up-to-date information regarding this pandemic. Please visit their website for informative resources. You can also call their hotline, staffed by public health professionals from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily, at 651-201-3920.
Here are some updates:
The Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan Assistance Program is now live and applications are available to help businesses impacted by COVID-19. This program provides loans of up to $2 million to help small businesses and private nonprofits overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. For more information, call the SBA's disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 or visit the COVID-19 section of their website.
Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has established a Small Business Emergency Loan program that can help bridge the gap for businesses until their federal loans are approved, offering immediate assistance. Loans are available between $2,500 and $35,000, are 50 percent forgivable, and have a 0 percent interest rate. Learn more here.
Last week, Governor Tim Walz took a bold step to protect consumers during this crisis by issuing an executive order to ban price gouging during the current peacetime emergency. If you’ve seen grocery store shelves, it’s clear that some food and some household supplies are scarce, and it’s inexcusable for retailers to take advantage of this opportunity to make a quick buck off the backs of consumers. We’ve seen some examples of outrageous prices for hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, toilet paper and food.
If you see an instance of unconscionable price gouging, please report it to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office at their website or give them a call at 651-296-3353.
Governor Walz has issued other executive orders to help Minnesotans navigate this crisis including a moratorium on evictions, mobilizing the Minnesota National Guard to deliver Personal Protective Equipment, and giving the Department of Human Services flexibility to help ensure services for people with disabilities, mental health support, childcare, food support, housing, and other critical public health programs and services can continue. You can access the full list of the Governor’s executive actions here.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue has announced that taxpayers filing their individual income tax returns for tax year 2019 now have until Wednesday, July 15, 2020 to file, without any penalties or interest. This deadline conforms with the deadline for federal tax returns, also recently pushed back to July 15. For more information, please visit the Department of Revenue’s website or call them at 651-296-3781 or email email@example.com.
A special 30-day enrollment period is open qualified individuals who are currently without insurance can enroll. Minnesotans who are seeking health care coverage can visit MNsure.org to complete an application.
MNsure has a statewide network of expert assisters that help people apply and enroll for free. Click here for more information. You can also call the MNsure Contact Center at 651-539-2099 or 855-366-7873 if you need assistance. The Contact Center is open Mondays through Fridays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Please continue to reach out with any input, ideas, or feedback about the issues important to you, or if I can be of any assistance during this uncertain time. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 651-296-0141 and I will get back to you as soon as I can. I also invite you to “like” or “follow” my Facebook page here where I share frequent updates.
It’s an honor to represent you in the Minnesota House.