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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jay Xiong (DFL)

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Legislative Update- April 25, 2020

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Rep. Xiong

 

Dear Neighbors,

Positive developments related to a COVID-19 response in Minnesota unfolded this week. Thanks to the Governor, Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and Hennepin Healthcare, our state now has now significantly increased our testing capacity- up to 20,000 Minnesotans per day. Minnesotans can find a testing location on the newly launched COVID-19 website here.

 

testing breakthrough

 

Data shows that social distancing is working in our state to help slow the spread of the virus, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We must continue to keep up these science-driven practices guided by the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health to ensure we aren’t jeopardizing our progress.


Getting Minnesotans Safely Back to Work

The Governor also announced this week executive action to get approximately 80,000-100,000 Minnesotans back to work starting on April 27. This will be a gradual process, starting with workers in non-customer facing industrial and office-based businesses who aren’t able to telework. As testing increases, positive cases can be isolated, and health care capacity increases, we can continue “turning the dials” to reopen more businesses. More information about this process is available here.

 

Adjusting the Dials


 

Distance Learning Extended

On Thursday, it was announced that distance learning for our K-12 schools will continue until the end of the school year. On Friday, Governor Walz, Lt. Governor Flannagan, and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Commissioner Ricker announced increased efforts to reach students during the extension of distance learning. Those efforts include increased direction from MDE on meeting the needs of students and their families around technology, mental health, and other services. Additional direction on how to make distance learning successful for students with special needs will also be forthcoming.


Unemployment Insurance Available for Self-Employed Workers

 Yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) began making Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments for self-employed, contract, and other workers who were not previously eligible for regular unemployment benefits.

Here’s what Minnesotans need to know about applying for PUA:

  • If you have already applied for regular unemployment benefits, you do not need to do anything extra to qualify for PUA. DEED will automatically establish a PUA benefit account for you if you are eligible.
  • If you have not applied for unemployment benefits yet, special instructions for self-employed and 1099 workers are available here. These instructions include steps you can take to make your account easily identifiable as potentially eligible for PUA.
    • If you applied for unemployment benefits without following those instructions, don’t worry – you don’t need to change anything. Your account will still be reviewed for PUA eligibility.
  • If you have not heard from DEED yet, don’t worry. They expect to be in touch with most people who are eligible for benefits under PUA by the end of April. There is no need to call or follow-up; you will hear from them proactively if they need additional information to determine eligibility.
  • You will receive information about PUA benefits in your online account, by email, and by mail.
  • Applicants who receive PUA benefits will also receive the $600/week additional payment.
  • PUA benefits will be backdated to whenever you first became eligible due to COVID-19.

Additional information, including answers to many commonly asked questions, can be found here: COVID-19 information for self-employed people and independent contractors


Save the Date!

Please save the date for our upcoming virtual town hall meeting on April 29 at 6:00 p.m. I’ll be joined by our City Councilmember Jane Prince, Metropolitan Councilmember Chai Lee, and Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough. It will be broadcast live via fb.me/repjayxiong. If you have questions for the event, you can submit them ahead of time to rep.jay.xiong@house.mn.

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Keep in Touch

Even if you can’t join us next week, please always feel free to contact me anytime with ideas, input, and questions. Being your state representative is a great honor and privilege, and I appreciate the opportunity to help when it’s needed.

Have a good weekend.

In solidarity,

Jay Xiong

State Representative

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