This week the legislature began a remote COVID-19 Response Working Group to discuss a variety of issues Minnesota is facing due to COVID-19. Governor Walz also signed the COVID-19 relief package into law last week after the Senate and House met. This was an important step to in responding to the needs of workers, health care providers, and families who are facing unprecedented challenges during the pandemic. We are continuing our work to solve other unresolved issues to protect our citizens, including:
• Paying E12 hourly workers
• Housing and homelessness assistance
• MFIP funding for families at the lowest income levels
• Anti-discrimination measures
• Repayment mechanism to the 21st Century Mineral Fund
Below are some resources so you can stay up-to-date on the most accurate information related to COVID-19, as well as hotline numbers should you wish to speak to someone over the phone. As we continue to navigate these challenging times, I am hoping to be a resource in anyway I can. If you have any questions, please contact my office.
Hourly school workers deserve a paycheck
The challenge of COVID-19 is being felt in every corner of our state and in the everyday lives of Minnesotans. One of the most significant disruptions has been in our schools, where classes can no longer meet in person. Students, teachers, support staff, and administrators have had to put a plan in place for continuing education for the next several weeks.
Our educators, administrators, and other school workers have met this challenge, and have implemented a statewide distance learning program continuing education for our students. They have also gone above and beyond in supporting our students and families. They have been out there delivering meals and providing support to students and their families by checking in, reaching out, and helping in a thousand different ways. Their support has been unflinching in this crisis.
Though these educators and support staff have stepped up, Senate Republicans have ignored the pleas of thousands of hourly school workers who no longer have the guarantee of a paycheck. Though the Legislature passed a bipartisan $331 million COVID-19 relief package last week, it did not include a single provision related to education in the bill. This is unacceptable and I will continue to advocate for hourly school workers.
Now that we are adjourned, it is likely that the earliest we will be able to address this issue is when we return on April 14. Thousands of Minnesotans are facing anxiety, uncertainty, and the fear of not having the paychecks they need to pay their rent or mortgage or to cover the costs of food or medicine. Only through legislation can we guarantee that the pay expected for these hourly workers will get to them.
Legislators advocate for first responders’ access to workers comp
I had the pleasure to sign onto a letter sent a letter to Governor Walz asking him to use his executive authority to ensure first responders have access to workers compensation benefits in the event they contract COVID-19. In the letter, legislators argue that first responders are putting themselves at risk in order to help citizens stay safe and get access to health care they need. As a result, it is important that the state ensure first responders and others have access to the benefits they need. In addition to asking for an executive order, legislators are also working on a proposal to ensure these workers are covered through legislation.
We are committed to fighting for our state’s workers, including first responders. We will continue to push for the inclusion of first responders’ access to workers comp at the Legislature.
Department of Health:
COVID Updates here.
COVID Hotlines: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903
School and childcare questions:
651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504
Employment and Economic Development:
Worker and Business Resources – if you are facing unemployment or a reduction in your hours, follow the “Information for Workers” link to learn how to apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
K-12 Education and Childcare:
Hotline for School and Childcare questions:
Call 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504 (7am-7pm daily)
Hotline for Childcare Providers with questions: 1-888-234-1268
Updates about K-12 education from the Minnesota Department of Education can be found online here
Information on childcare for families and providers can be found online here