Senator Rosen’s legislative update: the latest coronavirus resources

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Good afternoon friends and neighbors,
Over and over I am encouraged to see our communities come together during this time and support one another. I am so thankful for you all!

My team and I are continuing to work diligently to get resources to you all. While things remain fluid, you are all my top priority and I will continue to advocate in your best interests. Below I have compiled some updates from state agencies. I do hope this information is helpful and wish you all good health.

On Friday the Governor released a website specifically for COVID-19 news and resources. You can view this page here.

Sincerely,

Julie

Zoom:

Since we have begun telecommuting from home, my office and the entire Senate has implemented the use of Zoom conference communications. It took a while to get used to, but I am thankful for this technology and have enjoyed being able to keep in touch with not only family and friends, but also continue to get the job done for you all at the Capitol.

Last week I had two Zoom conference call meetings with District 23 school superintendents. I think these two meetings were a great success and we are planning a second call soon. I was able to listen to the concerns of school leadership and we were able to share ideas with each other. I am extremely thankful for our teachers and school leadership for continuing to put our students first during this time. I am also impressed by how our schools are utilizing technology for distance learning. It is critical we, at the Capitol, stay in tuned with our schools. The need for proper broadband, mental health services, and e-learning support continues to be a priority of mine and we will make sure schools receive the funding they need in a timely manner. If anyone has concerns or questions about E12 education during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Keep up the good work!

Last week we held our first two COVID-19 working groups via Zoom. Today I was honored to chair our third working group. Senator Gazelka established a working group focused on the Senate response to the current COVID 19 threat. Working group membership is comprised of 9 Senators and 2 additional Senators for each meeting. The Working Group hearings will be focused on different topics and this gives the Caucuses an opportunity to choose a Member more closely connected with the agenda of a particular hearing. Our first hearing was April 2nd and this hearing focused on Health Care System Response. The second hearing was April 3 and focused on Economic Relief and Recovery. Our third hearing was April 6th and we heard from the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget about state budgeting. Tomorrow our fourth hearing will be heard on the Long-Term Care community. All of these working group meetings will be live streamed atwww.facebook.com/MNSenate/.

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Additional Time to File:

The Minnesota Department of Revenue has conformed and agreed to extend filing and payment of 2019 tax return for individual taxpayers until July 15, 2020. See the DOR press release below.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – 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, to file and make their payments without any penalties or interest.

“Extending the individual tax filing deadline will provide much-needed relief to Minnesotans impacted by COVID-19,” said Governor Tim Walz. “As we work together to combat the spread of this virus, my Administration will do everything we can to ease the burden on families across the state.”

Both the IRS and Revenue will accept federal and state 2019 individual income tax returns and payments through July 15, 2020, without assessing penalties or interest.

“As Minnesota responds to the COVID-19 situation, we are providing this filing and payment grace period for 2019 to those who need it,” said Revenue Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly. “We also encourage Minnesotans who do not need extra time to pay, to file and pay as soon as possible to do your part in providing on-going support to COVID-19 response across the state.”

Minnesota is allowing additional time for making 2019 state individual income tax filings and payments to July 15, 2020, without any penalty and interest being applied. This includes estimated tax payments for individual income taxes due for the 2019 tax year.

This grace period does not include estimated tax payments for individual income taxes due April 15, 2020, for the 2020 tax year.

Revenue is analyzing how other tax types may be impacted by this announcement. Up-to-date information will be available on the department’s COVID-19 website, including how to request abatements for penalty and interest for other taxes.

Be vigilant – Stimulus payment scams on the rise:

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) authorizes stimulus payments to those who qualify. As a result, the MN DOR is warning scammers may target Minnesotans and try to steal their personal information.

Will government agencies contact me about stimulus payments?

No. Government agencies, including the IRS and the Minnesota Department of Revenue, will not call, text, or email you requesting information for stimulus payments. The Minnesota Department of Revenue does not have a role in issuing these or other federal payments.

What should I do?

Be aware of phishing calls, emails, or texts that include language such as: “In order to receive your stimulus payment by direct deposit, you must confirm your bank information.” If you get a suspicious email or text requesting information, report it. Do not click on links or open any attachments.

Where can I find more information?

For details on federal stimulus payments, monitor the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief webpage. For Minnesota tax-related information, see Our Response to COVID-19 on our website.

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Disability Services and Funding:

I wanted to give you an update specific to your concerns about disability services and funding. On March 20, the Governor signed Executive Order 20-12, which allows DHS to waive or modify regulations related to child-care providers, disability services providers, and more. DHS released 11 statutory waivers and modifications under E.O. 20-12. We are taking care of, and working for, vulnerable Minnesotans. The spread of the coronavirus continues to be a top concern and, while the federal government leads the national response to COVID-19, at the state level we are taking extra steps to respond to and anticipate impacts of the virus.

Child Care Resources:

If you are a parent or guardian in need of child care – especially if you work in one of these sectors – you can call the Child Care Aware hotline at (888) 291-9811. Parents may also use the interactive provider map to find providers in their area along with the name of the contact at the facility. to be directed to available licensed child care providers or use the map below. Cost of care is subject to the program’s existing policies.

Recent changes to the Parent Aware Grant Program

  • Parent Aware is a search tool that parents can use to find child care facilities by entering in their city or zip code. The program also rates the providers on a 1-4 star process.
  • Starting July 1, 2020, Parent Aware Grant amounts will be tiered based on star ratings, and for the first time, programs earning four-star ratings will be eligible for the grants.
  • More extensive information for providers can be found here.

Disability Service Providers Information on COVID19 from DHS

The commissioner suspended or modified specific routine enforcements by DHS Licensing so that clients can continue receiving services during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Suspended routine licensing and certification reviews
  • Suspended payment of outstanding fines
  • Suspended fix-it tickets, correction orders and fines
  • Suspended licensing orders except for temporary immediate suspension orders necessary to ensure the health and safety of those receiving care and services
  • The Licensing Division will continue to respond to critical incidents involving high risk of harm to clients or allegations of abuse or neglect and will prioritize on-site visits as needed on a case-by-case basis. Inspections for pre-licensure and change of premises will continue on a case-by-case basis.

The commissioner also took actions to increase flexibility for providers:

  • Licenses for family child care, child and adult foster care, and community residential settings that would have expired in March, April or May are automatically extended for three additional months. Training, re-licensing and documentation requirements are extended.
  • Timelines for training for existing staff and license holders that expire during the peacetime emergency are extended.
  • These waivers will be in effect until May 1, 2020.

CCAP Modifications:

Absent Days:

If a child is absent from care, an absent day exemption must be granted if requested by the family or provider. The following options can be used to request the exemption:

  • A family or child care provider can verbally request the exemption from the family’s CCAP worker
  • A family or child care provider can submit the request in writing and return it to the CCAP agency.
  • A child care provider can complete the CCAP Medical Condition Documentation Form (DHS-4602) and return it to the CCAP agency.
  • A family can have a medical professional complete the CCAP Medical Condition Documentation Form (DHS-4602) and return it to the CCAP agency.
  • The absent day exemption policy only applies when the child care provider is open and available for care.

Provider Renewal:

  • Providers whose renewals are due between March 20, 2020 and June 17, 2020 can/will have their renewal due dates pushed out three months
  • CCAP Provider Questions/Who to Contact
  • For general policy questions, contact the Department of Human Services’ Child Care Assistance Provider Line at 651-431-4848 or email DHS.CCAP@state.mn.us.
  • Local CCAP agencies must be used to handle all specific case and payment questions. Local agencies include the county, tribe, or other agency that administers the program.

DHS Provider Licensing Actions and Extending Provider Licenses:

The commissioner suspended or modified specific routine enforcements by DHS Licensing so that clients can continue receiving services during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Suspended routine licensing and certification reviews
  • Suspended payment of outstanding fines
  • Suspended fix-it tickets, correction orders and fines
  • Suspended licensing orders except for temporary immediate suspension orders necessary to ensure the health and safety of those receiving care and services
  • Licenses for family child care, child and adult foster care, and community residential settings that would have expired in March, April or May are automatically extended for three additional months. Training, re-licensing and documentation requirements are extended.
  • Timelines for training for existing staff and license holders that expire during the peacetime emergency are extended.
  • Waivers in effect until May 1, 2020

Commerce:

MNSure:

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Salon Owner and Stylists:

For those who are suffering from a temporary loss of employment or income due to COVID-19 the board has compiled a brief list of resources that may help you. This is by no means a comprehensive list of support that could be available to you. The board recommends you direct all questions to the proper agency or department as they will be best qualified to advise you. My staff and I are happy to help you with this.

Please visit the Board websiteFacebook page and check out their Helpful Resources flyer for more information.

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MnDOT just announced their 2020 construction projects:

  • MnDOT’s bulletin on this can be viewed here and their press release can be viewed here.
  • MnDOT will do 188 road and bridge projects statewide, and another 66 projects to make improvements to airports, ports, transit and railroads.
  • An interactive map of the full 2020 construction program can be found here.
  • The full list of current construction projects can be viewed here, while the full list of future/planned construction projects can be viewed here.

Southeast (MnDOT District 6):

  • Hwy 14 – Expand Hwy 14 to four lanes between Owatonna and Dodge Center
  • Hwy 61 Lake City – Reconstruct Hwy 61 through Lake City
  • Hwy 63/I-90 interchange – Replace Hwy 63 bridges; build or reconstruct two I-90 off ramps south of Rochester
  • I-90 Austin – Resurface eastbound I-90 with concrete from Freeborn CR 46 to Hwy 105 in Austin

South central (MnDOT District 7):

  • I-90 Fairmont – Resurface 16 miles of eastbound I-90 from Hwy 15 in Fairmont to the Blue Earth River
  • Hwy 22/Hwy 111 Nicollet to Gaylord – Resurface 19 miles, construct snow fence in problem area, perform utility work in Nicollet
  • Hwy 71 Jackson to Windom/Windom to Hwy 30 – Resurface and replace bridge

Southwest (MnDOT District 8):

  • Hwy 23 Cottonwood to Granite Falls – Resurface with concrete 18 miles from Cottonwood to Granite Falls; realign Lyon CR 9 intersection in Cottonwood and construct several left-turn lanes
  • Hwy 15 Hutchinson – Reconstruct downtown Main Street from 2nd Ave N to 5th Ave S; improve lighting and pedestrian accessibility; update city utilities; resurface Hwy 15 from 5th Ave S to CR 115
  • Hwy 12/Hwy 40 Willmar Wye – Realign Hwy 12 and reconstruct Hwy 40 on the west side of Willmar; construct two roundabouts; construct a new rail line
  • Hwy 12 Litchfield – Reconstruct Hwy 12 in downtown Litchfield; improve lighting and pedestrian accessibility; update city utilities

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