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APPLE VALLEY CHAMBER NOTE: Today they spoke of Unemployment Insurance being extended for Federal and State money, disaster grants, civil unrest grants, workman’s comp claims denied, schools, can parents stay home to distance teach and still collect UI (yes), can you prohibit out of country travel by employee etc. We hope you find these raw notes useful and timely as we try and get them right to you as these are the people making all the decisions with the Governor for Covid.

2020 08 13 Call, DEED
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Peter Brickley, Asst Commissioner of Commerce
Nicole Blissenbach, Asst Commissioner of Department of Labor and Industry
Cynthia Bauerly, Commissioner of Revenue
Anna Peterson, Chief of Staff, DEED
Steve Grove, DEED
Kevin McKinnon, Deputy Commissioner of DEED
Darielle Dannon, Legislative Director
Purpose: regular business call with state government. How can we do more for business?
Questions are being circulated into the forum through this regular communication. Always seeking ideas for more targeted supports.
THESE CALLS ARE ONCE A WEEK ON THURSDAY
DEED, Steve Grove
·        Unemployment Insurance
o   President issued EO on UI, intended to increase benefits per week by $400. unique EO, wkg with DOL re what this exactly means and the source of funding within FEMA.
o   Estimates are putting that amount as lasting for 6 weeks of benefits at that level. Is really $300/week, + state’s $100/week match (that can come from existing $ states currently pay through regular UI payments.
o   Questions administratively and how $ will be drawn down.
o   Good news: state benefit matching $ is looked at in aggregate, not by user. 4% of weekly UI claims are of $100 or less… as long as you are eligible, you will get that $.
o   Unique: only for those who can prove their loss is due to COVID-19, different from original policy which applied universally to all forms of UI. So more work on front end re eligibility.
o   No state is ruling this out yet, waiting on additional guidance from DOL.
·        ED: SBRG
o   Lottery about a month ago for the $10K grants.
o   Last week: we moved forward on Cultural Mall grants, announced to them re $150K to help their tenants.
o   Now in process of ww series of CDFIs and NPs across the state to get that $60M out to business lottery winners. About 15-20% of the funds are out so far, want them all out by EOM August.
o   For those businesses determined ineligible, waiting list of companies based on the lottery.
·        ED: Disaster declaration for businesses damaged by civil unrest
o   1600 or so businesses affected.
o   Declaration applies to businesses and homes.
o   41 apps for assistance so far.
o   Must apply by 10/2 for physical property, and economic injury by May 23, 2021.
o   SBA providing training sessions and doing outreach.
Peter Brickley, Commerce
·        Working with colleagues at MDH and Gov office on internal call routing re COVID testing. Calls are coming in with questions… should finish today, and will improve customer service.
·        Financial Institutions Diviosn is ww industry on COVID preparedness planning. An working with regulated industries on how to meet obligations to customers while protecting them.
·        Commerce has been receiving reports from insurance industry re property and casualty claims from civil unrest. Every other week. later today or tomorrow will be able to post aggregate info on our website.
Nicole Blissenbach, DLI
·        You all saw the news about Commissioner declined.
·        Dept continues to be committed to assisting businesses and workers with labor standards questions, workers comp, safety and health, construction codes/licensing.
·        Workers comp: as of 8/7, DLI has received 3830 COVID-19 claims. 66% are from industries that fall under the “presumption.: 73% of the other are from the meat processing industry.
·        Of the 3127 claims already with a liability determination, 51% were denied.
·        Of those covered by the “presumption,” 32% denied.
·        Of those not covered by the presumption, 95% denied.
·        Last week: Commissioner of Education… follow up questions re care of emergency workers’ children
o   Flag this: in upcoming 2020-21 school year planning guide, there is update to that list.
o   Guide lays out that school districts are required to provide care, free of charge, school aged workers of Tier 1 workers during school.
o   Tier 1: Health care, public health workers, law enforcement, public safety/first responders, food and ag, essential services of judicial branch, National Guard if activated, educators/school staff, child care and school age providers.
o   Schools can offer fee-based care for other students not covered under Tier 1, and can charge for before/after school care.
o   Getting a lot of questions about this, different options employees have/employers must provide…
Cynthia Bauerly, Revenue
·        Local govt distributions: tomorrow is another certification date.
·        Almost all funds are out, just under $20M left to distribute.
·        2 more dates after this Friday, for local distributions.
·        Continued questions about the uses of these funds. Go to MMB’s website and search: “CRAO” Coronavirus Response Assistance Office.
·        Reporting on what funds are being used for should be updated in Sep and Oct…
·        Re more info on distribution process: MN Dept of Revenue website.
·        Grace periods for businesses to pay sales tax and others a little late without penalty/interest. They have ended and we are working individually with customers to address Coronavirus-related needs.
·        If you get a letter asking you to pay penalty/interest, call us to remove if possible.
Questions
2.      Can a business prohibit employee travel out of state? Should/can it be included in return to work safety plan? Can a business legally require 14-days isolation when they return? Blissenbach: that will be hard to address in a blanket statement. Don’t believe there are guidelines from MDH or CDC that require quarantine for people who have traveled. I know there are businesses who require this…. Can they take actions to restriction off-work activities? I suggest you talk with counsel about that. Also know your policies, employment agreements, or collective bargaining that may apply.
3.      Will DEED send list of SBRG awardees? Initiative Fdn sent press release that payments have started to go out. Would be helpful to know who received in our county as we set up programs. Grove: we will be releasing organizations who received grants. Done when all contracts are confirmed and money issued, because still working through eligibility. Will be transparent on this.
4.      Re Fed CARES Act money to cities/counties, are some communities keeping all the funds for their own expenses rather than disbursing? Bauerly: yes, funds are for response to COVID. No requirement that they distribute beyond their own budgets as long as they have sufficient needs to account for the money. Must be used for Coronavirus response in some way.
5.      If a parent chooses to stay home to do distance learning, can they collect UI? Grove: likely yes. Can’t answer in a blanket way. In Governor’s EO, one of his first, opened up UI to anyone impacted by COVID-19, including those who have to stay home to care for loved ones. Details may differ based on specifics, but broad answer is yes. Blissenbach: US DOL is looking at additional guidance to determine if FFCRA leave can apply here.
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