DEED Call Notes 7/9/2020
APPLE VALLEY CHAMBER NOTES: Here are the notes from the DEED call early afternoon today. We see little concerning mandatory mask wearing but heard on a call with statewide Chamber Presidents today that it is likely soon and it is rumored it may be enforced by county rather than statewide. We did not see the Governor have his usual 2 p.m. press conference but will report it when he does.
- MN not spiking, no Phase 4 timeline yet
- Listening to retail and other groups
- Still working to see if MASK MANDATE WILL OR WILL NOT BE REQUIRED
- State Small Business Relief Grants (SBRG) via lottery for $62.5 million closed July 2nd
- Cultural & Ethic Grant apps due tomorrow (Fri)
- Special Session #2 begins Monday
- UI CLIFF: Unemployment Insurance extra $600 from CARES ACT ENDS JULY 25TH
- Friday announcing expansion of Temporary insurance licensing
- June 30 Real Estate renewal window closed
- Workers Comp: Health care worker claims the highest
- Labor Standards: Many complaints people being denied leave FMLA (see Link)\
- Construction Codes/Licensing: Schedule for Exams
- OSHA Inspections (Inquiries up 3X over last year)
- Asymptomatic Employees returning to work
- Different rules if critical vs. non-critical company (Non-critical must be quarantined)
- MASKS IN RESTAURANTS: Recommendations vs. Requirements
- Business Grants: USE OF CARES $ TO CITIES (Can list be made of applicants so cities don’t duplicate)
- SIBL Loans by state was to1,020 businesses: Grant program will be 6,000 businesses receiving max $10K
- RESTAURANT RESERVATIONS: Want prefer reservations and walk-in’s, DENIED
- SBA EIDL Loan part of larger SBA loan
- Helping NON-PROFITS LIKE OUR CHAMBER: NONE
- School Buses (Max. 13 students per bus & Disinfect at station after every pick up)
- MUST vs. SHOULD WORK FROM HOME: IF A WORKER “CAN” WORK FROM HOME, THEY STILL “MUST”. Very clear!
2020 07 09 Call, DEED
Thursday, July 9, 2020
Peter Brickewedde, Asst Commissioner of Commerce
Nicole Blissenbach, Asst Commissioner of Department of Labor and Industry
Kevin McKinnon, Deputy Commissioner of DEED
Darielle Dannon, Legislative Director
Anna Peterson, Chief of Staff
See Yang, Administrative Business Partner (Anna Peterson, DEED Chief of Staff gone today)
MOVING FORWARD, THESE CALLS ARE ONCE A WEEK ON THURSDAY, 11am – 11:45am.
DEED, Kevin McKinnon
- Reopening: closely monitoring other states and the spikes we are seeing. Not seeing them in MN now/yet, continue to monitor. No clarity yet re timeline for Phase 4.
- Connecting regularly with retail/hospitality/venue groups re ongoing issues. Demand, capacity, opening timeline perspective.
- Masking mandate: work continues to determine if we need one.
- Small Business Relief Grants (SBRG), $62.5M funded by Legislature. App window closed on 7/2. over 29K applications. In the process of conducting lottery within next week or so to award. Will ww the NP partners to administer those grants.
- $2.5M for cultural/ethnic… currently accepting applications, closing on Friday, 7/10. determinations on those grants later this month.
- Small Business Emergency Loans (SBEL): will be releasing names of SBEL program awardees from end of March. Approx 1020 loans and disbursed the $30M allocated to DEED.
- Special Session scheduled for Monday, 7/13. A variety of outstanding issues.
- Unemployment insurance cliff: on July 25, additional $600 payments from CARES Act will end. We’re preparing for that.
Commerce, Peter Brickewedde
- Friday will be announcing an expansion of temp insurance producer licensing program, originally stood up in April in response to closure of licensure testing facilities. Those facilities have opened in part across the state, still have considerable need for those insurance producers to get temp licenses. Needs to be expanded to allow for current workers. Going live with new tech changes tomorrow, Friday, 7/10. should increase the # of people able to work temporarily as they await appointments to take full licensure exams.
- On June 30, annual real estate renewal window closed. Had a very successful renewal period for that industry. Tracked the renewal rates compared to rolling 3-year averages for real estate companies and people. Right in line or just above that 3-year average for renewals. Worked closely with the real estate associations.
DLI, Nicole Blissenbach
- Workers comp: DLI has received 2018 COVID-19 related workers comp claims as of 6/26. Front line workers, including first line responders, corrections and health care, represent 1567 of those claims. Health care occupations were the highest of those at 1335 claims.
- Labor Standards: concerns from US Dept of Labor that many employers are not aware of obligations under paid leave and expanded FMLA re FFCRA. Point people to good resources on US Dept of Labor website including work site poster, that go through obligations, who is covered, and employee rights under that federal legislation. If you have questions, we can answer in our Labor Standards Unit within DLI. Receiving lots of complaints from people being denied that leave. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions
- Construction Codes/Licensing: finishing up the 2-week exam blitz tomorrow. 2500 spots, over 700 people took the exams. 3 days of exams in Baxter next week and then resuming normal schedule of 3 days/week at St Paul office, beginning 7/21. Additional Greater MN exams will be added soon. As a note, we’re seeing great cooperation re social distancing and hygiene protocols we’ve put in place.
- OSHA: data from March 1 – June 29 period.
- OSHA compliance inspectors conducted 347 inspections.
- Of those, 104 were direct result of complaints.
- There have been 12 fatality inspections
- 6 were COVID-19 reports
- 8 follow up inspections
- 16 serious injury inspections
- 207 routine inspections.
- Have received 5623 inquiries (3x that of last year)
- Of those, 707 complaints have come out, about a 50% increase from same period last year.
- Of those 707 complaints, 383 were COVID-19 related.
- Guidance: what type of guidance are you sharing w/ businesses re asymptomatic employee coming back to work? They typically have been tested when exposed to positive family members. more people are reporting they are showing no symptoms. Blissenbach: re suggested timelines… if tested positive, they are subject to quarantine, even without symptoms. OR if someone is exposed but asymptomatic… that would be in the absence of a test… recommendation there (also on MDH website) is slightly different depending on if the workplace is critical or non-critical. Official recommendation is that non-critical must be quarantined. Those timelines are in CDC guidelines and linked to MDH website.
- As a local public health dept, we are getting reports of restaurants/bar workers not wearing masks. This is concerning and not following guidance. Any consideration to move this guidance to “mandate”? Blissenbach: restaurant and bar workers ARE required to wear masks. The “strongly recommended” language is for customers. McKinnon: re mandated mask wearing statewide… ongoing discussion. And getting input from organizations/assns. Goal is to open and open safely, doing what we can to protect our most vulnerable. Discussions are ongoing.
- SBRG: will the new grants awarded be taxable income in MN/federal level for for-profit entities? McKinnon: good question. No one from Revenue today… Business should consult tax professional.
- Guidance: can you please talk about the confusion between “guidance” and “recommendations” and “requirements” clearly so we know the legal requirements? Blissenbach: most important to focus on re EO: all businesses required to have preparedness plans that incorporate OSHA standards, as well as CDC/MDH guidelines. Must also look at guidance issued by Dept of Health, DLI, DEED… when you’re looking at guidance docs, FAQs are helpful. They go through “required” vs “suggested.” not everything in the guidance will apply to your particular business. So if you are non-customer facing businesses, so all customer interaction guidance can be ignored. If you have questions, please contact OSHA Consultation. Their contact info can be found on DLI website.
- Business grants: re use of CARES Act $ allocated to the cites and which may be used for ED, when will businesses be selected for lottery awards? Can the list be made immediately, as well as unsuccessful applicants, so cities can avoid duplicate awards? We want to act promptly. McKinnon: under MN Statute, agencies can’t disclose applicants for grant programs. We are required to disclose those who are awarded. Many communities have approached us on this very question. After the lottery concludes, we can be asking individual grantees and those applicants if they could share their application information with others (for other funding opportunities..?). After lottery, the NP grantees have to verify the “awarded” businesses are legitimate and complete the grant agreement. That process will take some time. I anticipate some selected in lottery are disqualified, at which point we would choose the next organizations on the list. Final list probably won’t be complete till middle of August.
- Business grants: when you do announce, can you ensure the business name/city/county is included in announcement? A spreadsheet would be ideal because cities/counties are running their own programs. Any more info on how you will announce? McKinnon: we will be announcing the business name, city, county. Will look like the SBEL program we did, and most likely will have map of the state showing awardees. Spreadsheet should be accessible. 1020 SBEL loans provided. Grant program: over 6000 businesses will receive these $10K grants, so it will be a bigger project. And public at some point.
- Will DEED be releasing any info on additional required docs businesses/farms will need to submit to that NP to receive the SBRG? McKinnon: if selected, business will be notified, as will the NP that will be managing the transaction. At that point, more documentation will be needed. We’ve got basic eligibility info through our process. The NP will need to verify all docs are together.
- Restaurant reservations are still required? Some local discussion on this topic and even some push-back. Via social media, can we advertise “we prefer reservations, walk-ins are welcome but not guaranteed.” Blissenbach: the reasoning. 1) we don’t want a bunch of people waiting in a small area to get into a restaurant. 2) re contact tracing. If you have a worker who later tests positive, easier to determine who was in the restaurant – or at least have a contact of other people in the bldg at the same time. Is a written record of possible exposures if that comes up. So you can’t just show up and walk in. would be some leeway if you called on your way and get a reservation… for now, guidance docs do require reservations and don’t allow for walk-ins.
- I applied for and received an EIDL advance. Now I am being asked to complete an Advance Application. McKinnon: my understanding is that EIDL Advance IS part of a larger loan to be completed later. That’s why I suspect the SBA is asking you to pursue your loan. Refer to the SBA for more clarity.
- Any update on potential legislative action to assist NP organizations? McKinnon: to my knowledge, no additional discussions right now re additional COVID assistance.
- Re guidance for school buses: guidance is not feasible financially or logistically. Max is 13 students and buses need to go back to main station for disinfection between pick-ups. Any accommodations being considered? Blissenbach: I think this in reference to guidance issued by the CDC… will need to be referred back to the Dept of Ed. Not sure of the answer.
- A number of questions re COVID relief grant as it pertains to cities… more Dept of Revenue related. So will save for next call.
- Do you have any thoughts/clarifications on explaining businesses more customer-facing offices where they need to work from home or if they could go back to the office? “must” vs “should” work from home. Blissenbach: right now, EO says if a worker can work from home, they “must.” Very clear. Looking at potential changes to that. No dates yet.