Late yesterday, the Minnesota Legislature approved a new economic assistance package designed to help small businesses and workers struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation includes direct financial assistance to the hardest hit businesses and helps protect economic security for workers by extending unemployment benefits.
Key components of the assistance bill would:
- Extend Unemployment Benefits: Provides up to 13 additional weeks in unemployment benefits for MN workers who have exhausted all federal and state benefits. There are an estimated 100,000 MN workers who could qualify for this extension, showing how needed this extension is.
- Business Assistance Grants: Provides $216.5 million from the General Fund in grants to restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters and many other entities directly affected by the executive orders and the pandemic. It is estimated that these grants will be able to assist over 6,000 businesses that have been hurt by Covid-19.
- Certain Fees Waived for Hospitality Industry: This is another straight-forward practical action we can take to help ease the financial burden our local businesses are facing. While this is a smaller portion of the total relief, it should go a long way towards helping these vulnerable businesses.
Unfortunately, Senate Republicans would not agree to advance a more robust funding package to address housing insecurity during the pandemic, childcare grants, and direct financial assistance to struggling families. This is deeply disappointing, especially for our Eastside families and neighbors who are struggling. I’m in constant communication with our Minnesota congressional delegation for updates about any progress on passing the survival and relief mechanisms we need from the federal government now. We can’t wait any longer.
COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Plan
Ahead of the vaccine shipments to Minnesota, last week Governor Walz announced our state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan. The goal is to quickly, equitably, and safely deliver the vaccine to anyone who wants one at no cost. The first to receive the vaccine in Minnesota will be health care workers and long-term care residents, who would then be followed by essential workers, seniors, and people with preexisting conditions that are more likely to become seriously ill with this virus.
The arrival of the vaccine is incredibly good news, but 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.
Upcoming Virtual Town Hall
On Monday, December 21 at 6:30 p.m., District 67 state legislators will join forces with our city and county officials for a pre-session virtual town hall on Facebook. You can tune in here.
Those who have confirmed joining us include Representative-Elect John Thompson, Metropolitan Council Member Chai Lee, Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough, City Council Member Jane Prince and City Council Member Nelsie Yang.
Please RSVP and submit questions ahead of time here. All are welcome!