Senjem Update, April 7, 2020

staff letter, news

 

Dear Friends,

The covid-19 pandemic is concerning all of us in every respect. Because of the impacts of necessary preventative actions many fear for their financial futures. At difficult times like this I understand that you are looking to your state government to lead and take all actions necessary and appropriate to ensure your safety. 

Please know lawmakers are absolutely committed towards combating and eradicating the dreaded covid-19 and ensuring all Minnesotans will recover from whatever hardships this unfortunate viral disease outbreak has presented.

Legislators and the Governor are working together and are committed to be the kind of public servants you expect and deserve during this difficult time.

Legislative Activity:

Earlier today, the Senate met for a session and approved a bill to address the issue of Worker’s Comp for emergency personnel and front-line health care workers. The vote was 67-0. The bill moves on to the Governor for his signature.

Also, in today’s session, a change made to the temporary senate rules that allows for remote committee hearings. It’s likely that some Senate committees will have these meetings. We are still working through the process that would be used for remote meetings and I will be sure to keep you all in the loop as we go. 

As we navigate these uncharted waters, I want you to know the legislature is still working for the people of Minnesota. A newly formed Senate COVID-19 Response Working Group has held three teleconference meetings. The eleven-member panel, comprised of six Republican members and five Democrat members, will convene to learn more about the economic impacts of the pandemic on businesses throughout the state. 

Among many issues the working group will focus on, here are some of the following areas:

  • Emergency assistance compact for healthcare personnel coming to work from out of state
  • Finding financial solutions for rural hospitals
  • We want hospital workers to know we have their back and we will keep working to get them the supplies they need to stay healthy. We appreciate their work and can’t do this without them!
  • Long-term care facilities are experiencing cases and we need to develop a plan to help them mitigate the spread in their facilities

Emergency Funding:

The Minnesota Legislature passed an emergency funding package to assist with the state’s covid-19 outbreak response efforts. The legislation, which is the third aid package approved by the legislature, passed with bipartisan support.

To date, the legislature has passed nearly $552 million to address the pandemic in Minnesota. This is action on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans whose livelihoods have been threatened by this crisis, as well as the many incredible health workers and others who are on the front lines each and every day.  Thank you to them!

Taxes

Governor Walz announced Minnesota will move the tax deadline to from April 15 to July 15 to align with the new federal deadline amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In March, the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the federal government will push back the income tax filing date to July 15.

Covid-19 Updates:

Minnesota Website: For the most up-to-date information regarding Covid-19, MN has a website to answer your questions: https://mn.gov/covid19/ 

COVID-19 Cost Sharing Waived

The Minnesota Council of Health Plans announced all its plans will eliminate cost sharing and copays for COVID-19 treatment and testing. This is excellent news that makes sure all Minnesotans have access to the testing and treatments associated with the coronavirus. Learn more information here: https://mnhealthplans.org/news/news-releases/minnesota-health-insurers-announce-plans-for-coverage-of-covid-19-testing-and-treatment/

Small Business Resources

These are challenging times – especially for our small businesses. They are critical parts of our communities and I am confident we can get through this. In the meantime, here is information on some of the assistance available for small business owners:

Mental Health Related Resources/Info

https://namimn.org/support/mental-health-support-and-information-on-covid-19/

CDC: Stress and Coping during COVID-19

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fmanaging-stress-anxiety.html

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

National Domestic Violence Hotline call 1-800-799-7233

  • Governor Walz’s Executive order allows mental health professionals who are licensed out-of-state to treat Minnesotans via telehealth.

Deaf Hard of Hearing – DHS Info and Resources https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MNDHS/bulletins/28331a6

  • Making phone calls easier for people with hearing loss

Commerce:

Minnesota Department of Commerce Reminds Investors to Beware of Con Artists Looking to Profit from Fear and Uncertainty; Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making an Investment

https://mn.gov/commerce/media/news/#/detail/appId/2/id/423760

Minnesota Department of Commerce Shares Tips on Avoiding E-mail, Telephone and Mail Scams

https://mn.gov/commerce/media/news/#/detail/appId/2/id/423759

Veterans:

Veteran Relief Grant Program now Accepting Applications 

The MDVA has opened the application for one-time financial relief grants to veterans who are affected by COVID-19. This money was approved the last meeting of the legislature and adds $6.2 million to the State Soldier Assistance Account of the MDVA to support in-need veterans and their families. See below for more information.

Starting Monday, April 6 at 8 a.m., MDVA is accepting applications from Minnesota Veterans who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. MDVA will award one-time financial relief grants in the amount of $1,000. Funding is available for both Disaster Relief Grants and Special Needs Grants.

Eligible Applicants must be:

  • A Veteran or the surviving spouse of a deceased Veteran as defined by MN Statute 197.447;
  • A Minnesota Resident, and;
  • Negatively financial impacted by COVID-19.

To apply for the Disaster Relief Grant:
Contact your local County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) or MDVA Field Operations Representative at [if JavaScript were enabled there would be an email address here] OR apply online at MinnesotaVeteran.org/COVIDRelief.

To apply for the Special Needs Grant:
Contact your local County Veterans Service Officer or MDVA Field Operations Representative.

To identify or contact your local CVSO, visit MACVSO.org. For more information, visit MinnesotaVeteran.org/COVIDRelief.

Transportation:

Federal/Agency Actions:

  • The federal government, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has provided waivers to CDLs nationwide until 6/30/20, including medical certification of CDLs.
  • While federal and state Executive Orders allow rest areas to remain open, MnDOT has committed to keeping rest areas open.
  • MnDOT has created an internal policy which extends the time that special interest signs have to be replaced during this emergency.
  • DPS will have a plan for how to provide CDL road tests by 4/8/20. They are currently looking into in-vehicle cameras, PPE, plexi-glass partitions and additional measures. They hope to offer limited options for CDL road tests by 4/20/20.
  • DVS is creating internal policy which will allow them to delay status checks on licenses.
  • DVS has received variance requests and is currently processing the petitions to allow teleconferencing to occur between driver’s education programs and their students. DVS expects that this issue will move forward after review.

Deputy Registrars (DR):

The Gov’s office has declared that beginning 4/6/30, will now include deputy registrars as essential employees.

  • Over the counter and face-to-face services are still prohibited.
  • Deputy Registrars are allow to remain closed if they so choose, around 78 currently remain open in some capacity: DVS Office Location
  • They must follow social distancing recommendations by doing something like drop boxes, drive through windows, or teleworking.
  • DRs can’t process driver’s license or ID cards.

Driver’s Licenses/ID Cards:

Expiration dates for Minnesota driver’s licenses, state ID cards, and disability certificates/permits that expire during the governor’s declaration of peacetime emergency will be extended for two full months after the end of the emergency declaration.

For example, if your identification expires during the peacetime emergency, and the emergency ends in April, you will have until June 30 to renew. If the emergency declaration ends in May, you will have until July 31.

If you are a new resident of Minnesota, or if you have an out-of-state driver’s license or ID card, you will not need to act until the end of the peacetime emergency. Law enforcement has been notified about this change; your identification will show as unexpired in both in-state and out-of-state law enforcement databases.

Due to the extraordinary circumstances, your identification will also remain valid for travel and the TSA will accept it for up to one year after expiration.

License Plate Tabs:

While in-person offices are closed, you can still renew license plate tabs online or by mail. There is currently no way to renew tabs online for commercial vehicles or farm vehicles, but we are working on a solution and will keep you posted. For those whose passenger vehicle license plate tabs need to be renewed, you can do it online at any time. You can pay online and will receive your tabs in the mail. Visit the following link to renew your tabs:

https://mnlars.dvs.dps.mn.gov/online/#/renewTabs/renewSearch

Free Rides Rochester Transit:

As part of the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, starting today, Rochester Public Transit has suspended fare collection on all buses and routes: Rochester News

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