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Gov. Walz signs $330 million COVID-19 aid bill on Saturday

Gov. Walz signs $330 million COVID-19 aid bill on Saturday Photo: AP.

KAAL-TV
Updated: March 28, 2020 03:13 PM
Created: March 28, 2020 12:37 PM

ST. PAUL (AP) —  On Saturday, Governor Tim Walz signed a bill to allocate $330 million in COVID-19 aid in Minnesota, bringing the state’s total response to more than $550 million to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was passed by the Minnesota Legislature on March 26, 2020.

“The swift, bipartisan passage of this bill is One Minnesota in action,” said Governor Walz. “Legislators put aside politics to fight the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of Minnesotans. We’re only in the early stages of Minnesota’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic – but this law will help ensure we have the right supports in place to prepare for what’s to come.”

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“I am proud to live in a state that puts aside politics to do what’s right for our people,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “By bolstering our food systems, supporting our child care providers, and aiding our tribal nations, veterans, and those experiencing homelessness, this law will help care for our most vulnerable in the face of this unprecedented crisis.”

HF 4531 includes the following actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, among many other policy proposals that will help Minnesotans:

  • Establishes the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund to support further action
  • Creates peacetime emergency child care grants
  • Provides COVID-19 assistance for veterans
  • Supports food shelves and food banks
  • Expands resources for emergency services and homeless shelters
  • Expands support available to small businesses
  • Extends disaster assistance for farmers to include losses due to COVID-19

The Minnesota Legislature passed a $330 million financial aid package Thursday to help soften the economic impact and help public agencies and the state’s health system kick into high gear to fight the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened more than 300 people and killed five in the state.

The House passed the bill 99-4 and sent it to the Senate, which approved it 67-0 and sent it to Gov, Tim Walz for his signature. Among the bill’s highlights are a $200 million fund that state agencies can tap for responding to the pandemic. It also would provide $30 million in grants to groups that provide child care for children of essential workers. And it also includes $40 million in emergency grants and loan guarantees for small businesses,

“We have grave and difficult days ahead,” Democratic House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said just before the vote. ”We do not know — and probably not knowing is the most difficult part of what the course of this pandemic will take. ... We have much work to be done. This is just the beginning. But it is an important first step.”

The bill was assembled via private conference calls to keep lawmakers from risking catching the disease, and the various proposals were rolled into one big bill to limit the number of votes that must be taken. Makeshift House and Senate procedures to maintain social distancing means that lawmakers had to take turns for getting on the floors to vote or speak and wait elsewhere in the Capitol complex until their turn comes up. Many had to shout their votes from the door to the House chamber, then leave without entering.


(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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