DEED Call for Business 12/10/2020
2020 12 10 Call, DEED
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Peter Brickwedde, Asst Commissioner of Commerce
Beth Johnston, Dept of Revenue Policy Advisor
Steve Grove, Commissioner of DEED
Elizabeth Frosch, Chief of Staff, DEED
Mark Simmer, staff, DEED
Nicole Blissenbach, DLI
DEED, Steve Grove
· State of efforts
o Later today: hearing in House Ways and Means and Senate Jobs Committees re small bus assistance aid + UI
o Tentative agreement on business assistance component.
o Nothing is final yet, but good progress.
o UI: at real risk of 100K Minnesotans without insurance because extended benefits have stopped and federal extension that includes both 13 weeks and UI for indep contractors/self employed will end as well. Urgent as you might imagine, for Congress to act and extend benefits.
o We need to act as a state regardless, can’t wait on federal decision making. Working with Legislature now.
· Recent court case re ability of our dept to pay young people to get UI
o Plaintiff is eligible for PUA benefits (high school student lost job)
o Encourage all young people, HS students, separated from work to apply for UI if you think you are eligible.
o We stand ready to issue pymts to any eligible Minnesotan as soon as court gives that court order. Eager to provide them benefits.
o I’m personally deeply passionate about this. state statute, 1939, preventing HS students from getting UI is woefully inadequate.
· Dec 18 end date of EO 20-99: what’s the next step?
o Gov continues to evaluate options and health data to make decisions.
o Also considering schools, recreation.
Commerce, Peter Brickwedde
· Staff is reviewing supreme Court decision in Rutledge Case
o Analyzing for MN implications
· Commerce’s role in administering low income heating assistance
o Concerned that Minnesotans having difficulty paying heating bill are able to find assistance.
o $106.1M received in Nov for federal heating assistance. We administer with local govt and local cmty action orgs.
o We are seeing somewhat smaller uptake compared to years past, though we know the need is significant.
o Eligibility is based on past 3 months of income. You may be eligible.
o Reach out to Commerce Dept.
DLI, Nicole Blissenbach
· Last week I gave updates on workers comp and OSHA. Have been updated.
· Workers Comp
o Thru 12/3, new total: approx 11,400 COVID-19 related claims
o Seen big jump in those COVID-19 workers comp claims, starting in Sep.
o Has been drastic increase in % of total claims. In Nov, 69% of claims filed were COVID-related. In Oct, was 39%. In Apr, was 17%.
o Outpacing by quite a bit the # of total workers comp claims received in 2020 compared to 2019. To be expected, given the # claims filed.
· MN OSHA Compliance
o 3/20 – 11/20: almost 17K inquiries. Calls and emails.
o Have resulted in opening 1,535 non-formal complaints.
o 263 formal complaints. 141 COVID-related.
o 828 on-site inspections (some are due to complaints, referrals, and scheduled inspections). 175 are COVID-related.
o 1250 citations issued. 131 COVID-related.
o Amount of discrimination/ retaliation intakes: up to 335 now. Have opened 77 cases. 65 of them are COVID-related. Definitely an uptick in these #s.
· Reminder: emergency FMLA set to expire on 12/31. no updates on whether or not this will be extended. Is a federal law. USDOL has been reminding employers that, even after expiration date, obligation to provide that leave prior to 12/31 is still in place. Will be enforced.
Revenue, Beth Johnston
· Published final Tax Year 2020 forms on website.
· e-service system has a new look, launched last week. more intuitive, user friendly.
· Still accepting requests to cancel/reduce filing payments/penalties, if negatively impacted by COVID-19. instructions/details are on home page.
1. Under current EO, event spaces allowed to host tours for prospective clients with social distancing/sanitizing…? Securing future revenue. Blissenbach: will get back to you.
2. Recently heard from bar owner re discussion of ownership in defiance of Gov. asking for support from that city. Gov has no data that these businesses are main sources of COVID spread. Statistics we can provide to businesses to show impact of shut down or source of transmission leading to closure of these businesses? And if they defy order, how should local law enforcement handle? Blissenbach: when making decisions, MDH is providing data on cases they are monitoring and using science related to how the virus spreads – in order to inform decisions. We know virus spreads when people are in close proximity, not masked, intermingling. Following actions of other states and data being collected, there definitely are higher risk environments. The opportunity for transmission increases in restaurants/bars. That said, EO functions as a law. Is enforceable by local law enforcement and regulatory agencies. A number of court decisions have upheld the EO. So enforcement work does continue. As we receive reports of establishments that are operating in violation of the EOs, we are referring to law enforcement and following up with regulatory agencies. MDH licenses restaurants/bars and I know they have been issuing “Cease and Desist” orders as needed. And following up with AG office.
3. E-FMLA/emergency sick leave sunsets on 12/31. Any word that it will be extended? Blissenbach: after the sunset, if no extension or changes to laws, employee follows leave policies/collective bargaining agreement with employer.
4. What is the expectation of businesses to enforce masking with customers? Blissenbach: industry guidance docs do outline recommendations. Employer’s ultimate responsibility is that, if a hazard does present itself, they are not putting employees at risk. So an unmasked individual you are unable to offer an accommodation to/unwilling to accept it, from DLI’s perspective, employer’s responsibility is to ensure employees are not interacting with customer. Lots of options but don’t put yourself in danger when interacting w customer unwilling to follow guidelines.
5. I saw a flyer on our county’s public health: “decline services or request customer leave premises.” I hadn’t found that guidance online. Blissenbach: link to mask covering EO page with those FAQs online onwww.staysafe.mn.gov. In FAQs, specific questions about customers refusing to mask, employees unable/unwilling to mask…