Governor Signs $330 Million Bill to Respond to COVID-19

Governor Tim has signed into law an additional $330 million package of initiatives to combat the health and economic challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis. The bill includes, amongst other provisions: 

  • $200 million for a COVID-19 emergency fund which the Walz Administration can quickly access funding for future needs related to the virus
  • $26 million for emergency assistance for homeless populations
  • $30 million for grants to child care providers to remain open & care for children of essential workers
  • Codifying provisions from some of the Governor’s Executive Orders

Background Check: BCA Authorized to Delay Fingerprint Submission 

The bill empowers the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to delay the submission of fingerprints needed for background checks of essential workers during the current emergency.

The BCA will consult with other state agencies to determine what workers will be covered, and we are cautiously optimistic that this clears a path for the BCA to delay submission of fingerprints for checks required by the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Our initial read is that background checks would continue to be conducted, but the submission of fingerprints by study subjects would be delayed until 30 days after the end of the peacetime emergency. 

The BCA has not yet made a formal determination under this new authority. We are making progress in getting more details on this issue and we will share that with you when available.

15% Housing Support Increase Included in Bill

The bill includes a temporary 15% increase in Housing Support (GRH) and Supportive Services limits and rates under Statute 156I, subdivision 1 & 1a. The funding is increased from March 1 - May 31 and is meant to maintain access to room and board for eligible individuals by assisting providers in funding activities to comply with federal and state health and safety guidance in response to COVID-19.

Providers must submit documentation by Oct. 1, 2020 demonstrating that the increased funding was used for needs related to COVID-19. Examples of items that may apply include, but are not limited to:

  • increased building-related cleaning products and protocols for infection control;
  • disposable dishes and utensils for in room meal delivery to confine individuals who are symptomatic or to support social distancing; and,
  • increased staff costs to provide meal service to resident apartments or additional cleaning.

We will continue to seek clarity and provide additional information as it is available. 

Legislative Work Continues, Despite Required Social Distancing

This package is being viewed as another step to address COVID-19 and have acknowledged many other needs awaiting to be addressed. While this bill addressed a significant issue we had on background checks, we continue to advocate on your behalf to ensure you have the resources you need to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak. 

Both the House and Senate have adjusted their rules to allow for temporary distance voting or remote/proxy voting during the duration of the COVID-19 emergency in case they are prevented from meeting in person for committee or floor votes. At this time, they are not scheduled to come back in floor session until April 14 unless agreements are reached between the leaders on specific issues. We will continue to keep you updated as legislative work continues. 

Have you thanked your lawmakers?

While the most recent bill was not targeted at long-term care providers, a bill passed a few weeks ago set aside $200 million for health care providers including those providing senior services. Send a quick email to your lawmakers or make a call to thank your lawmakers for what they’ve done so far. Here are three steps:

  1. CLICK and enter your contact information.
  2. CHOOSE whether you’d like to send an email, make a call or both by clicking the message or phone options at the top of the screen.
  3. SHARE your thoughts with your lawmakers. Your messages, whether you call or email, will be pre-loaded on your screen. We encourage you to personalize your messages to make a bigger impact. Then share with others and encourage them to take action too!

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