Senator Champion negotiates employment legislation amid COVID-19

St. Paul, Minn.— Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) was the lead DFL Senator for legislation to provide additional small business security through a DEED State Loan Guarantee Program. The DEED loan guarantee program would use the state General Fund to back any loan losses for businesses. “Although this legislation is just one piece of the final bill, it will be another way to help businesses across the state secure private funding and lines of credit to help cover their losses and get our small businesses through the months they are closed,” Sen. Champion said.

Sen. Champion voted in favor of the final relief package of $331.5 million to help families, businesses, and state agencies respond to the growing effects of COVID-19 on the state’s economy, as well as implement policy changes necessary to provide economic security and safety for Minnesotans. He did express some missed opportunities and is committed to work on securing additional resources to extended worker’s compensation protections to police officers, firefighters, paramedics, correctional officers or security counselors employed by the state at a corrections, detention, or secure treatment facility, emergency medical technicians, or an employee employed in a health care, long-term care, or home health care setting who contracts COVID-19 to which the employee was exposed in the course of employment.

 “I am deeply disappointed measures to protect workers are on the front-line of keeping us safe and taking care of the sick and elderly are not part of the final bill passed off the floor today,” Sen. Champion said. “This issue should not be politicized or partisan. If these critical workers get sick while working during this outbreak, we need to make sure these brave men and woman are able to collect workers benefits and services when they become ill and are forced to stay home.”

Another piece of legislation that Sen. Champion worked on that didn’t pass as part of the larger package was the DHS Emergency Assistance for Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) Families would have provided a one-time $500 emergency assistance payment to approximately 27,700 MFIP Families. This would be a way to get cash into the hands of low-income Minnesotans who don’t qualify for Unemployment Insurance benefits. The payment would be delivered by whatever means they currently receive benefits either through EBT cards, direct deposit or check. Unfortunately, this measure was not included in the final bill today.

MFIP helps families with children meet their basic needs while helping parents move to financial stability through work. Parents are expected to work under this program and are supported in working with both cash and food assistance. “When people can’t work, we need to make sure those families who are already facing economic and financial insecurity are not left behind,” Sen. Champion said. “A one-time $500 emergency assistance payment will make sure these families can afford to stay safe, buy groceries, and take care of their families.” 

The legislation passed today follows Sen. Champion’s continued support for businesses and workers in Minnesota. For example, Executive Order 20-15 provided immediate assistance to small businesses by authorizing the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to establish a Small Business Emergency Loan program for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will make loans between $2,500 and $35,000 available for qualifying small businesses. The loans will be 50% forgivable and offered at a 0% interest rate. If other financing becomes available to small businesses that received an emergency loan, such as federal funding, the emergency loan must be repaid.

“Many local businesses have been forced to close down and have no source of income to pay their expenses,” Sen. Champion said. “Providing access to this emergency loan program can help many businesses pay their bills and get through this unprecedented time in our history and give small businesses a better chance of being able to open their doors once this emergency is over.”

Sen. Champion also supported Executive Order 20-05 which provided immediate relief to employers and unemployed workers through an expansion of Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance program. “Economic insecurity because of involuntary unemployment is difficult and unsettling – especially when workers become unemployed through no fault of their own,” said Sen. Champion. “This program provides temporary partial wage replacements to help workers access basic necessities and safeguard the health of themselves, their families, and other Minnesotans.”

For more information about COVID-19, please go to the Department of Health website. A hotline is available at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903. For more information specifically pertaining to the Office of Higher education, please go to their website.

“As always, please reach out to me with your comments and suggestions on this issue or any other concerns I may be able to help you with. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-9246 —please leave a voicemail and I will follow up shortly—or by email at bobbyc@senate.mn.” 

Senator Bobby Joe Champion
Bobby Joe Champion represents District 59, which includes portions of downtown and north Minneapolis in Hennepin County. He is also an attorney.

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