Workers compensation plan approved

Legislation to provide presumptive workers compensation insurance to front-line workers who contract COVID-19 was approved by the Minnesota House of Representatives on April 7.

The bill is a compromise made by legislators from all four House and Senate caucuses, and advocates from labor and business groups. The bipartisan agreement was approved unanimously in an emergency meeting of the Workers Compensation Advisory Council on April 6.

The plan will benefit first responders, health care officials and numerous other professions that are responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

The people who are caring for those stricken with COVID-19 and their families are heroes because they’re putting others’ needs ahead of their own. In my opinion, approving this workers’ compensation package is the least the State can do to show its appreciation for their efforts.

Watch out for each other

We’ve begun to hear how with the stay-at-home order in place, some crimes may be slightly on the rise, such as burglaries.

Many of us have repeated the importance of checking in on our vulnerable neighbors to see what they might need during this time of crisis. We should also be using this time to look out for each other by watching for any suspicious activity, and reporting it appropriately to the authorities.

COVID-19 financial assistance for veterans

Veterans and their spouses who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are now able to access a pair of state government programs that were created to provide them with financial assistance.

On March 26, the Minnesota Legislature voted to fund a special appropriation to assist Veterans who may be financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 Specific Programs have been activated specifically in response to mitigate the economic effects COVID-19 is having on our Veterans and their families.

According to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, these programs can close at any time without notice due to the exhaustion of approved funding. Status updates will be posted here regarding the status of these programs. All of the grants are awarded on a first come, first serve basis, and the amount of grants awarded is limited to the length of existing funding.

The Legislature also approved COVID-19 disaster relief grants, which are designed to mitigate the negative effects and economic impact COVID-19 has had on Veterans and their families by providing a one-time financial relief grant in the amount of $1,000.

Applications for the disaster relief grant must be dated no earlier than March 13, 2020. A closing date for the disaster relief grant has yet to be determined and will depend on the length of the peacetime emergency declared by the Governor of the State of Minnesota and the availability of funding.

Visit mn.gov/mdva/blog/?id=1066-425565 for more information.

Loan program available for COVID-19 damages

The Minnesota Disaster Recovery Loan Program is now accessible to farmers who are suffering financial damages related to the COVID-19 outbreak after the Legislature expanded access to the funds. Legislative approval of a bill March 26 increased program flexibility, providing a resource to farmers for expenses not covered by insurance

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture indicates program dollars can be used to “replace livestock or flocks, make building improvements, or cover the loss of revenue. Loan proceeds may also be used to repair or replace septic and water systems, and replace destroyed agricultural buildings.”

The program is coordinated by the Rural Finance Authority and farmers will work through their local lenders to secure financing. The MDA reports the RFA participation in a qualifying loan is limited to 45 percent of the principal amount, up to $200,000.

Other terms, conditions and qualification standards apply and can be found at by calling 651-201-6666.

Rep. John Petersburg, R-Waseca, is the state representative for District 24A, which includes Owatonna and Waseca. He can be reached by phone at 651-296-5368 or by email at rep.john.petersburg@house.mn

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