Saturday, April 18, 2020
A new executive order to reopen many recreational outdoor activities went into effect at 5:00 a.m. this morning. The changes will allow Minnesotans to continue to enjoy the outdoors close to home, while following social distancing guidelines.
Under this executive action, facilities that may reopen or remain open include:
This week, the Legislature met twice to pass three core pieces of legislation. Read about them below:
COVID-19 Response LegislationEarlier this week, representatives and senators reconvened session to pass a fourth COVID-19 emergency package of legislation. These were mostly policy fixes to help ease daily operations for Minnesotans during the pandemic. Measures passed include additional support to help Minnesotans execute wills, allow local governments to meet remotely, suspend certain deadlines and expiration dates, expand use of telemedicine, allow Minnesotans to apply for marriage licenses during the peacetime emergency without appearing in person, and more. You can read more here.
Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act Passes & Signed into LawTuesday was also a victory for insulin warriors who have been advocating for this legislation for years, like Nicole Smith-Holt, the mother of Alec Smith, who passed away tragically because he was forced to ration his insulin due to the cost. The Legislature approved a new landmark measure that ensures Minnesotans can access their insulin at a price they can afford.
The Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act will ensure that Minnesotans who cannot afford their insulin and are facing an emergency need can access a 30-day supply at their pharmacy for a co-pay of $35. Eligible Minnesotans include those who are uninsured, under-insured, receiving Medicare and do not have access to low co-pays. The legislation also streamlines the process by which Minnesotans can access affordable insulin in the long-term. Insulin manufacturers would participate in the program and could be fined up to $3.6 million a year, doubling in the second year, for non-compliance.
Minnesota House Approves Takeout Wine & BeerYesterday, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed legislation to allow takeout sales of beer and wine from bars and restaurants with curbside food pick-ups during the COVID-19 pandemic. This by no means is a fix-all solution, but will help bring in some additional revenues to our St. Paul restaurants and bars who are struggling.
The legislation allows bars and restaurants with liquor licenses to sell up to 72 ounces – the equivalent of one six-pack – of beer, cider or hard seltzer and up to 750 milliliters of wine – the equivalent of one bottle – with food orders. The alcoholic beverages must be sold in their original, unopened containers. Governor Walz will sign the bill into law as soon as it reaches his desk.
Unemployment Insurance ExtensionThe Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced that the agency has fully implemented the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides a 13 week extension of unemployment benefits for eligible applications. PEUC was authorized by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which was signed into law on March 27, 2020.
Free Metro Mobility Rides for Health Care WorkersThe Metropolitan Council has announced free transportation to the region’s frontline healthcare workers for a safe and stress-free trip to and from work. Effective early this week, Metro Mobility is providing free door-to-door service from home to work and work to home for any person who works at a healthcare facility, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This new service will provide solo or very small group on-demand rides for essential health care workers such as doctors, nurses, home health aides, clinic staff, janitorial and all other support staff. If you are a health care worker who relied on transit to get to work, or are interested in signing up for this free service, learn more here.
Assistance with Energy BillsThe Department of Commerce’s Energy Assistance Program still has funds available to help Minnesotans pay their energy bills. For those who have not already received help this heating season, there is still time. The Department of Commerce especially encourages newly unemployed, households with young children, people with disabilities, veterans, and seniors to apply. To see if you are eligible, click here.
Keep in TouchPlease continue to reach out with questions or input. I am grateful for the opportunity to provide help if I can be of assistance.
Thank you for the honor of representing our east side neighborhoods at the Capitol.