House committee hears new frontline worker bonus pay bill

(ABC 6 News) – A committee in the Minnesota House of Representatives had their first hearing today on a new bill focused on frontline worker bonus pay. Democrats maintain more workers, including childcare and grocery store employees, should get bonus pay. However the Minnesota GOP wants to keep the recipient pool small — to people who interacted with COVID patients directly.

Frontline workers testified to the House Workforce and Business Development Committee, and the lawmakers there said they were grateful to hear the testimony.

The democrat-authored bill received enough votes to move forward to another committee in the House, but House republicans did have some questions. One question revolves around language in the bill that excludes physicians from receiving bonuses.

"It’s a flat statement and I want to understand. I see there’s the income limits, but there’s also some brand new physicians who have enormous debt," said Rep. Dave Baker (R- Willmar).

"Actually physician groups asked to be excluded. They saw the need and the necessity to address our frontline workers and our workers that often times we’ve taken for granted," responded Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL – New Hope).

Some lawmakers were also concerned that people who have since left their frontline jobs would not know how to apply to receive pay. For example, nurses who worked during the original stay at home orders, but have since quit for mental health reasons.

"How do we address those folks who were there for us in that time and now they’re not? How do we find employees that are no longer with our employment?" said Baker.

Fraizer, the bill’s author, said they’ll do outreach to the community to help fix that problem, but didn’t provide many specifics. This legislation has a companion bill in the Senate, but so far it hasn’t been heard in any committee.