Senjem Update March 23, 2020

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Dear Friends,

The coronavirus pandemic is concerning all of us in every respect. We fear for our personal health and the health of our love ones, our friends, and our neighbors. Because of the impacts of necessary preventative actions many fear for their financial futures and even whether or not the actions necessary to protect public health and combat the dreaded coronavirus might take our country into an economic recession.

At difficult times like this, I know and fervently understand that you are looking to your state government to lead and to take all actions necessary and appropriate to ensure your safety and the common good of all Minnesotans. While our state is the only state in the nation with a politically divided government we are absolutely not divided in our strong intentions and committed efforts towards combating and eradicating the dreaded coronavirus and ensuring that going forward Minnesotans will recover from whatever hardships this unfortunate viral disease outbreak has presented.

Working together we will get through this. At times like this Minnesotans expect and deserve the best out of their government. Please know legislative Republicans and Democrats working with Governor Walz are here for you and are committed to being the kind of public servants you expect and deserve during these difficult times.

UPDATES:
Governor Walz – The Governor is in a two-week isolation period after a member of his security detail came down with coronavirus. I wish the governor, his family, and his staff all the best. The governor will continue to provide updates from his residence.

Legislature: The legislature is currently in recess as we evaluate how to safely move toward in the best interest of the public, our staff, and my colleagues. It is likely we will return from recess soon to pass emergency legislation to deal with this public health emergency. Last week, we passed more than $200 million in emergency funds for hospitals and nursing homes. 

Schools: As you know, per the governor’s order, all schools in Minnesota are closed. Districts are currently preparing for all possibilities, including distance learning, should the governor extend his order. There will be more information in the coming days on this.

Small Business Loans: Our businesses are hurting. While we are doing our best to support them by way of takeout or drive thru service, this is a disastrous and uncertain time for many. The U.S. Small Business Administration has made low-interest disaster relief loans available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. For additional information: https://mn.gov/deed/newscenter/press-releases/?id=424149 

Income Taxes: The federal government has delayed income tax filings and payment until July 15. In line with the state’s continued peacetime emergency response to COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Revenue has announced that taxpayers filing their annual Minnesota Individual Income Tax return for tax year 2019 now have until Wednesday, July 15, 2020. For additional information: https://www.revenue.state.mn.us/our-response-covid-19

National Guard: The governor has activated the Minnesota National Guard to deliver protective equipment to medical workers across the state. At this time, their mission is limited to the delivery of supplies only but are ready to be called up if necessary. 

Driver’s Licenses/IDS: Most driver’s licenses offices are closed around the state. There will be guidance coming from the state soon on what to do about expired driver’s licenses or license plate tabs. The federal government recently announced they will allow expired identification to be used at airports under the following circumstances: “If your driver’s license or state-issued ID expired on or after March 1, 2020, and you are unable to renew at your state driver’s license agency, you may still use it as acceptable identification at the checkpoint. TSA will accept expired driver’s licenses or state-issued ID a year after expiration or 60 days after the duration of the emergency, whichever is longer”

Unemployment Information: Unemployment benefits will be expedited for workers impacted by the coronavirus. Please visit MN DEED’s website for information and/or the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program website www.uimn.org.

COVID-19 HOTLINE: (open every day 7am – 7pm) 
School & Childcare Questions, 651-297-1304 
Health Questions, 651-201-3920 
MN Department of Health website: For additional information,

https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

Outdoors: Here’s update from the Minnesota DNR on what public places are open and closed.

What is open – State parks, state forests, recreation areas, and other public lands. The following facilities will remain open at state parks – outdoor areas, campgrounds, camper cabins, yurts, remote campsites, overnight lodging facilities & some group centers. Highway rest areas at Grand Portage, Gooseberry Falls & Restigouche state parks. Bathrooms, shower buildings and vault toilets that are already open for the season will remain open

What is closed – Park offices, visitor centers, nature stores, trail centers, indoor interpretive exhibits and enclosed picnic shelters. Most park bathrooms with running water are still closed for the season and will remain closed

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