State Legislative Update
Contract ratification bill moves in House
On Thursday, the House State Government Finance committee passed HF 2768 by a partisan vote of 11-7 and referred the bill to the House Ways and Means committee. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Leon Lillie, DFL-North St. Paul, would ratify contracts and plans currently before the Legislature for approval. Rep. Lillie said the reason for the delay moving the bill through the committee process is he wanted to catch up the remaining contracts and plans recently negotiated. Among other contracts and plans, the bill includes the following contracts: AFSCME, MAPE, MMA, MSUAASF, IFO, MSCF; and the following plans: Minnesota State Administrators Plan, Commissioners Plan, and Managerial Plan.
Greg Hubinger with the Legislative Coordinating Commission Subcommittee on Employee Relations provided detail about the contracts and plans and told committee members that there is no appropriation tied to the bill; the state agencies are required to implement the cost of the bill internally. A complete summary of the contracts and plans in the bill can be found HERE.
Rep. Bob Vogel, R-Elko New Market, said he can’t support the bill, not because he doesn’t want to see the contracts go into effect, but said the timing isn’t right given the state resources going into the future. Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) Commissioner Myron Frans agreed with the concept that the state is experiencing difficult times, but explained that when the contracts were negotiated almost a year ago, one of the things MMB tried to do was be able to compete with the private sector and attract and retain talent inside state government.
Frans said he is very proud of the work of state employees and how they’ve stepped up during this time, and said it’s MMB’s position that the contracts were negotiated in good faith and represent a step forward. He said he believes state workers deserve the Legislature’s support, but knows there are variables to contend with. Frans also said 82 percent of businesses are essential and are working today, and those businesses continue to demand service. He said the worst thing to do would be to pull back, when the state needs to make sure our economy can still run.
Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, said he’s hearing from his constituents that the private sector is not looking at increases or talent, but rather at how to keep things together. Albright said we are all in the same storm together, but we’re not in the same boat together. He said everyone is experiencing different circumstances. He said ratifying these contracts would “fly in the face of current circumstances,” and that lawmakers would not be recognizing the reality of what’s happening.
Rep. Ginny Klevorn, DFL-Plymouth, said she would like to commend the people who negotiated the contracts as they settled significantly lower than national averages.
The bill heads next to the Ways and Means committee. The companion bill in the Senate has not had any movement.
Walz, Mayo, U of M announce COVID-19 testing breakthrough – web site for testing sites revealed
Earlier this week, Governor Tim Walz, representatives of the state’s health care delivery systems, the Mayo Clinic, and the University of Minnesota announced a breakthrough for rapid, widespread testing of COVID-19 in Minnesota. Standing together at the State’s Emergency Operations Center, they launched a statewide testing strategy to test all symptomatic people, isolate confirmed cases, and expand public health surveillance tools. “When Minnesota faces a challenge, we rise up, together,” Governor Walz said. “I’m proud to partner with Minnesota’s innovative health care systems and leading research institutions to pioneer how states can begin to move forward amid COVID-19.”
The partnership was funded in part by $36 million from the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund approved by the Legislature, and will establish capacity to deliver 20,000 molecular and 15,000 serology tests per day. The expanded testing will include intensive testing of: vulnerable populations, including Minnesotans living in congregate settings and those experiencing homelessness; staff that serve vulnerable populations and health care workers; communities of color and American Indian populations; and workforce for critical infrastructure.
This afternoon, Gov. Walz announced a new web site for Minnesotans to find a testing site within their community. The web site includes 127 clinics and health care facilities across the state so far, with the goal of providing easy access to Minnesotans. There is also an interactive screening tool to help determine if a test is needed.
Walz outlines next steps in COVID-19 response in Minnesota
The day following the announcement of a statewide strategy for widespread testing, Governor Tim Walz outlined next steps for the COVID-19 response in Minnesota. The Governor extended distance learning through the end of the school year, announced a plan for up to 100,000 workers to safely return to their jobs, and explained the different factors determining the gradual re-opening of society in Minnesota.
With the health and safety of Minnesotans his top priority, the Governor made clear the Stay at Home order remains in effect as the state considers ways to gradually loosen restrictions starting with settings most conducive to safe practices. Given those considerations, Walz announced Executive Order 20-41, that distance learning will continue through the rest of the 2019-2020 school calendar year. The state continues to pursue opportunities to expand technology for students, provide guidance for educators on how to best connect with students, and support families.
Governor Walz also announced Executive Order 20-40 to allow certain non-critical businesses to safely return to work. Developed in partnerships with hundreds of businesses, labor and worker organizations, and public health experts, this action will allow 80,000-100,000 Minnesotans to return to work in industrial, manufacturing, and office settings on Monday, April 27.
Prior to loosening restrictions for a given setting, businesses must:
- Create, share, and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that sets out the actions they are taking to ensure social distancing, worker hygiene, and facility cleaning and disinfection necessary to keep workers safe
- Engage in health screening of employees and ensure that sick employees stay home
- Continue to work from home whenever possible
More information about safely returning to work can be found on the Department of Employment and Economic Development web site.
Federal Legislative Update
President Trump signs Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act
On Tuesday evening this week, the U.S. Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, the House of Representatives passed the bill on Thursday, and President Trump signed the bill into law today. This bipartisan interim emergency legislation comes as a result of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), created under the CARES Act, running out of funds last week.
The bill includes $484 billion in new pandemic relief funds to bolster the PPP, pay for additional coronavirus testing, and help hospitals. The bill does not include additional funding for states and local governments, however, Congress is working on a “Stimulus 4 Package” which is expected to include these funds as agreed upon by Democrats and the Administration during the negotiations on this bill.
A summary of the bill can be found below:
Paycheck Protection Program
The third coronavirus response package, the CARES Act, provided $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers low-interest loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Loans can be forgiven for borrowers that pay eligible payroll expenses or rehire workers over eight weeks. The newest legislation increases the amount available to businesses by $310 billion, bringing the combined total to $659 billion.
The CARES Act provided $10 billion to expand the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to cover businesses, cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans, and tribal businesses with 500 or fewer employees, as well as sole proprietors and independent contractors. This bill provides another $10 billion to replenish the disaster loan program. It also provides $50 billion for additional SBA guarantees under its broader disaster loan program.
The bill provides $75 billion for health-care providers through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. The money could be used to reimburse providers for coronavirus-related expenses and lost revenue. Funds would be distributed under the same terms as the CARES Act, which provided $100 billion for those purposes.
The bill provides $25 billion for COVID-19 testing, including for active infections and previous exposure, through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund.
The funding would include $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes and would distribute at least $4.25 billion directly to those entities based on their relative number of COVID-19 cases.
The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act includes the following additional spending measures:
$1 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for activities such as surveillance, contact tracing, and lab capacity expansion.
$1 billion for the National Institutes of Health to develop testing and accelerate research on rapid testing, plus $500 million for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and $306 million for the National Cancer Institute.
$1 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for research, manufacturing, and purchasing tests.
$600 million for community health centers and federally qualified health centers, as well as $225 million for rural health clinics.
All hearings can be viewed remotely by clicking HERE.
Monday, April 27
House Ways and Means
Chair: Rep. Lyndon Carlson
HF 3391 (Moller) Guardianship and conservatorship provisions modernized and modified.
HF1914 (Edelson) Advanced practice registered nurses added
HF331 (Edelson) Tobacco; charter schools added to prohibition of tobacco in schools, tobacco sale age increased
Senate in Session
House Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division
Chair: Rep. Gene Pelowski
HF 3029 (Ecklund) Broadband development grant program annual statutory appropriation provided, and money appropriated
Chair Pelowski intends to offer the attached DE 1 amendment to HF 3029
House State Government Finance Division
Chair: Rep. Michael V. Nelson
HF 2768 (Lillie) Correct procedural error on bill motions on Thursday, April 23rd.
HF 1603 (Dehn) Omnibus election policy bill
(Consider DE2 Amendment posted below)
The Division will consider the adoption of the DE2 Amendment to replace the existing language HF 1603. Amendments to the DE2 amendment may be considered. The Division plans to move HF 1603, as amended, to the Ways and Means Committee.
Additional bill(s) may be added to the agenda
Tuesday, April 28
House Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division
Chair: Rep. Jeanne Poppe
Informational hearing on the language provisions contained in HF 4538 (Poppe) Gov. Supplemental Finance bill
Walk through of DE Amendment to HF 4285 (Poppe) Agriculture Policy Bill
Walk through of DE Amendment to HF 4490 (Poppe) Supplemental Ag Finance Bill
NOTES: The DE amendments will be posted in advance of the meeting and staff will walk through them. Member questions will be entertained. No other amendments will be considered or votes taken. Amendments to the DE are due by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, April 29 for final action on Thursday, April 30.
Meeting documents will be posted on the Agriculture & Food Finance and Policy Division website.
House in Session
Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy
Chair: Sen. Paul Anderson
Agenda: Informational update on the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education institutions, actions taken to address financial challenges, and CARES Act funding distribution.
-Joan Gabel, President, University of Minnesota
-Devinder Malhotra, Chancellor, Minnesota State
-Bill Maki, Chief Financial Officer, Minnesota State
House Higher Education Policy & Finance Division
Chair: Rep. Connie Bernardy
Presentation from Private Colleges & Universities on effects of COVID-19 & discussion on budget reserves
Presentation from Minnesota State on effects of COVID-19 & discussion on budget reserves
Presentation from U of M on effects of COVID-19 & discussion on budget reserves
Wednesday, April 29
House Ways and Means
Chair: Rep. Lyndon Carlson
HF 4415 (Davnie) Compensation for hourly employees required for schools closed due to COVID 19 (pending referral)
HF 3499 (Nelson) Help America Vote Act appropriation purpose transferred, and money appropriated. (pending referral)
HF1603 (Dehn) Election and campaign finance; automatic voter registration and early voting provided, voting rights of persons with felony convictions restored, automatic absentee ballot delivery and ranked-choice voting authorized, National Popular Vote Interstate Compact adopted, campaign finance reporting requirements modified, expressly advocating definition modified, reporting of electioneering communications required, redistricting commission established, and money appropriated. (pending referral)
Senate Capital Investment
Chair: Sen. David H. Senjem
Agenda: Informational Hearing on Rebuilding the MN Economy through State Bonding Investments in Critical Transportation Infrastructure
Thursday, April 30
House Agriculture & Food Finance and Policy Division
Chair: Rep. Jeanne Poppe
Final Action on HF 4285 (Poppe) Agriculture Policy Bill Final Action on HF 4490 (Poppe) Supplemental Ag Finance Bill