DEED Call Notes 6/25/2020
FROM GOVERNORS UPDATE TODAY: Just today Governor Walz announced a plan to distribute $853 million in relief to communities across the state impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dept of Revenue will distribute the funding to local governments. Local governments will receive a direct payment based on the per capita formula developed by the state legislature during special session. Details and link below.
APPLE VALLEY CHAMBER NOTE: A lot was covered today. Here is a quick outline for you to see what may apply to your organization.
- State $62 million $10K Grants from state via lottery (10 Day application window, ends July 2)
- DEED offers FREE College level and “retooling yourself” classes of 3,800 classes via Coursera (AV Chamber sent this to our members last week also)
- When will Phase 4 be? (Gives hint)
- Housing & Bank Forbearance
- Licensing Renewals
- Insurers & Civil Unrest Claims and Payment Policies
- Utilities: Accelerating Renewable Energy
- Workman’s Comp
- Construction Code Licensing New Exam Schedule & Locations
- Preparedness Plans for Critical Sector Due June 29
- Distribution of Federal Funds to Local Governments
- Can City give Federal Grant Money to any Business or Individual?
- Taxes July 15th: Also Property Taxes
- Taxes Grace Periods (if any)
Q & A
- If SBEL Loan, why can’t they get grant from SBRG or CARES Act?
- Restaurant Workers who don’t wear masks violations
- UI (Unemployment Insurance): If someone declines coming back
- Plexiglass: Who is required to have?
- UI: How to tell if Covid Related
- UI for employers calls: 2 hr waits, Will not offer legal advise
- CARES ACT: Where can cities use the money?
- SBRG: More clarification about not getting 2 grants
- COVID TESTING: Employee Exposed, retesting and who pays
- Timeline for Broadband State Grant Applications
2020 06 25 Call, DEED
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Steve Kelley, Commissioner of Commerce
Nicole Blissenbach, Asst Commissioner of Department of Labor and Industry
Cynthia Bauerly, Asst Commissioner of Revenue
Steve Grove, Commissioner of DEED
Kevin McKinnon, Deputy Commissioner of DEED
Darielle Dannon, Legislative Director
See Yang, Administrative Business Partner (Anna Peterson, DEED Chief of Staff gone today)
DEED, Steve Grove
- Launch of SBRG, live on Tuesday. $62M program, $10K grants being issued to businesses smaller than 50. special carve-outs.
- www.mn.gov/deed for application.
- SBRG is lottery system. Partnering with MN Lottery to use their program.
- 10-day application window, through July 2.
- Launch website repository of courses
- Coursera, 1-year partnership, to provide free career-focused, online learning resources to Minnesotans
- Available to any Minnesotan. If interested in using Coursera, must register before September 30, 2020 and will have access to the platform through March 2021.
- When to get to Phase 4?
- Other states have seen reopening go a little sideways. Hasn’t happened in MN yet.
- Ongoing priority of safely engaging in commerce.
- Looking at Phase 4, around larger venues, how/if/when to work from home…
- Timing is still TBD.
Commerce, Steve Kelley
- Housing stability
- Including electricity disconnects.
- Commissioner Kelley, Commissioner Ho, AG Ellison and Fed Reserve participated in conversation with leading banks and associations re long term approaches to housing stability in the face of economic challenges. Aim is to arrive at collaborative statement on the kinds of practices banks will use re forbearance with people to help them retain home ownership.
- Additional challenges for renters, working on that with other organizations.
- Licensing: online education/tools have allowed them to move back to regular deadlines for license renewals.
- Effects of civil unrest from COVID-19. bulletin to insurers asking them to provide accommodations to those businesses if they were part of catastrophe, including advanced payments on claims and other ways to help them get back up and running asap.
- Issued data call to those insurers, asking for data on claims and payments, so we can support the policy work going on in the Administration and Legislature re how to assist those businesses.
- Economic front: we saw in last week or so announcements by several utilities about the potential for accelerating investments in renewable energy and other grid work. Positive signs. Will need to work with PUC on analysis of that, but I am encouraged by the prospect that such investments will help get people back to work and keep them employed over the next few years as they invest in Minnesota renewable energy.
DLI, Nicole Blissenbach
- Work comp update
- As of earlier this week, claims up to over 1800.
- Breakdown: majority are in healthcare occupations (nursing, physicians, home health).
- Tracking that info as we go, and tracking denials of claims.
- Mentioned last week: construction code licensing division now has licensing exam schedule on website. Will resume on June 29. Thru July 14, will be at 2 locs:
- Earl Browne Heritage Center, Brooklyn Ctr (boiler, plumbing, residential contractor exams). Most at 9am, but some will have 2 sessions.
- UofM Continuing Ed in St Paul (electrical, elevator, bldg officials, high pressure piping)
- At 9am, check in at 8am.
- Go to website for schedule. Can schedule online, with application #.
- Also on website are precautions and requirements related to COVID that will be in place to ensure safety of test taker and staff.
- Preparedness plans for critical sector businesses should be underway, need to be in place as of June 29 – this upcoming Monday. Info on www.staysafe.mn website.
Revenue, Cynthia Bauerly
- Distribution of federal funds to local govts: announcement coming today.
- Question: can it be provided to local businesses from those govt entities as grants? That IS an allowable expenditure under federal guidance.
- DEED has rolled out the state program, and locals will be able to use funding for direct assistance to businesses and individuals.
- Filing deadline for individuals was moved to July 15.
- Property Tax refund work is at the same time, so we expect significant call volumes in July. If you questions of us, get those to us as soon as possible – preferably in next 2 weeks before we start with the crush of phone calls around filing.
- Transitioned from broad blanked grace periods for lake filing and pay to case-by-case basis. Want to start working with businesses who can’t pay full taxes, helping move them to payment plans/discuss options. Will waive penalty and interest if the reason for nonpayment is due to COVID-19 or results from damage to property/disruption caused by civil unrest.
- We’ve had businesses apply for SBEL, receive $3K. Now they can’t get grant. Seems unfair when grants weren’t available. McKinnon: law was very specific that, if anyone had received a SBEL under DEED’s original program, they were ineligible from receiving a SBRG from CARES Act $. Unfortunately, that is the case with this program.
- Local public health dept getting lots of reports of restaurant/bar workers not wearing masks. Concerning. Blissenbach: that is a violation of the EO as it relates to the guidance for restaurants and bars. Worker safety issues should come in thru MN OSHA. Recommend you first raise the concerns with the employer before any engagement with the state.
- UI: what do employers do about getting people to come to work when they refuse to because they are collecting the $600/week of unemployment? Dannon: it sounds like employer is asking about how to recruit new employees (?) we encourage them – and can reach out to them directly – re virtual career fairs. A lot of people ARE interested in getting back to work and I encourage you to consider this. And we will connect you to the workforce development teams.
- In what businesses are the large plexiglass shields required? Blissenbach: partitions/shields are generally required when you can’t maintain the 6′ distance between workers/customers. That’s similar for face coverings. In certain industries that’s required when 6′ distance can’t be maintained…
- UI: also questions re employers’ portal. How can we tell if UI benefits are COVID-related? Blissenbach: not sure if they are requiring about PUA vs regular state UI? From employer perspective, it doesn’t matter. For the state, we keep track because it tells us where the $ comes from. PUA benefits re paid from federal treasury. That $600 additional benefit also coming from federal funds. In an employer’s account, I don’t know if it is useful to know. can see in employer portal who has requested benefits, but not PUA vs regular UI. Happy to follow up off line if I’m missing something in that question.
- UI: how can employers get questions answered about specific UI questions while the phone line is down? Local business with very specific questions and has struggled to find clarity or point of contact in UI office. Dannon: it’s true, our employer line has been down. I do apologize for that. We’ve been focusing on customer service to individuals/ workers. Haven’t been able to provide that same level of support to employers. I’ll take this information and make the connection for you with our team. I strongly encourage people: most of the info you’ll need around UI is on our website. Still do have a 2-hour wait on phone for customer service team… our team is not able to provide legal advice. Employers often want help around employment law which is wrapped up into UI… our team can never provide you that legal advice. We can share with you what the law is, answer questions about options, but you’ll have to seek your own HR and legal counsel if necessary to determine what’s best for you.
- CARES Act Funding targeting counties/cities/townships: will the state provide any guidance for us to use the funds in our community and what happens if we don’t have business in our community to disburse the $ to? Bauerly: federal guidance is our starting point. $ will be monitored by federal govt. we will help local govts understand their guidance, Treasury website has a lot of good FAQ info there… a number of allowable costs available to recipients of funds. One is direct assistance to businesses AND individuals in response to COVID. Could be rental assistance… also local public health costs, local workers comp, FIMA local share matching, additional overtime for public health workers, etc. all allowable costs. Long list and good guidance on Treasury website. If you were following conversation in Legislature, no plan at this time to narrow the allowable costs. Everything available at the federal level is available under the MN Legislature proposal. more coming later today on this. one provision is a 10% set-aside for counties for local businesses/individuals in direct economic relief. If there is a county wo businesses it needs to support, could go to individuals.
- SBRG: if a business is awarded a SBRG, they are not eligible for county/city/township grant? How would we know if the business is awarded thru the state? Will there be a database to access? McKinnon: much like SBEL, when it gets wrapped up, will be public about all businesses that have received grants/loans from DEED. Larger question: when you’re using CARES Act funding from federal govt, you can’t be paying for the same expense twice. SBRG we are anticipating 80K applications, and the most we can do is 6000 grants. That’s less than 10% of anticipated applicants.
- COVID testing: if an employee claims to have been exposed, and must be quarantined for 2 weeks, can employer require test to determine if quarantine is necessary? Blissenbach: could be protected by Federal Paid Sick Leave, if quarantine comes from govt authority or is advised by physician. Employee would have right to take paid leave if employer is obligated by that law. This would implicate ADA and MN Human Rights Act… considerations to think about: guidance released by EEOC and MN Dept of Human Rights is that typically a test for something like COVID would be a prohibited medical test but, because of the pandemic situation, employers can require the test. State law states that any tests required by employer must be paid for by employer. Any testing requirement must be applied in a non-discriminatory manner.
- Timeline of broadband state grant applications announced? McKinnon: sometime in early July.