Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 4/06/2020
Thank you to all the essential workers continuing to service Minnesota during the Stay At Home order.
Following Governor Walz’s state-wide Stay At Home order, I worked with the my congressional colleagues to come to a deal on the third phase of coronavirus legislation. The House passed the legislation, H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Passing the CARES Act is another bipartisan step taken by Congress to rise to the unique and unprecedented challenge presented by the COVID-19 virus. I support this emergency disaster bill which directs much-needed resources to our rural hospitals, opens up emergency financing to help businesses and nonprofits, and provides significant direct assistance to impacted Americans.
I had a phone call with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. We talked about volatility in the commodity markets, particularly for our livestock and poultry industries, the challenging conditions for dairy farmers, and the status of our food supply chain. I want to thank Secretary Perdue and the team at USDA for their efforts to continue to monitor America’s food supply and provide needed assistance and flexibility in this emergency situation.
I invite you to visit the House Ag Committee’s COVID-19 Resource Page, a collection of updates, announcements and online resources detailing programs available to those affected by the pandemic, as well as adjustments made by USDA and other Federal agencies serving the food, agriculture and rural economic supply chain to respond to the emergency.
I continue to be impressed by the great spirit and sense of community I've been seeing each day, and I will continue to do everything I can to support my constituents as we respond and recover from this crisis together. As always, I encourage you to contact me through my website. Listening to you is the most important part of my job and helps me make the best-informed decisions for our community.
I hope you find the new resources and updates included in this newsletter helpful.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Serving the 7th
Bringing Western Minnesotans Home
Matthew Brunkow and his wife are safely back at home in the Seventh District, after being stuck in Peru due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After their flight home was canceled and all commercial airlines stopped service to Peru, my staff responded to their questions and helped with communication when they couldn’t get answers from the U.S. Embassy and State Department. The Brunkows were able to get on a charter flight to the United States.
Maité Marin-Mera and her friends in Ecuador
Maité Marin-Mera is a college student from Willmar who recently traveled with friends to Ecuador to visit family. When that country closed its border due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were stranded abroad with no commercial flights available. Maité reported that communication from the US Embassy was confusing, so she reached out to my office for help contacting the State Department to coordinate travel home. My staff was able to find and share information throughout their journey home. This is what Maité had to say about the situation:
"We were all really thankful to know someone was advocating for us and looking out for our well-being. We ended up catching one of the charter flights coordinated by the Embassy out of the country after a really stressful week. I am really thankful for Collin Peterson's office as they were so helpful in keeping us informed and advocating for us in such a stressful situation!"
I am happy that my office was able to assist constituents who were stranded abroad. Please contact my office if you are seeking assistance (202) 225-2165.
My Action on the Coronavirus
In response to the calls and emails I have gotten from Minnesotans, I have taken a number of actions to respond to the ongoing public health crisis. Much of this includes working with my Congressional colleagues and the Administration to fill in gaps where folks still need assistance.
Farm Eligibility for SBA Economic Injury Loans
I sent a letter with a bipartisan group of members to Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza urging her to make farms eligible for the emergency economic injury grant program. Congress included this program in the CARES Act to help small businesses handle losses caused by the spread of COVID-19. I was surprised to see SBA choose to make farms and agricultural businesses ineligible for this program, as it was the intent of Congress for this program to support all small businesses. I am urging SBA to make this change that will help small farms during this tough time.
Cosponsoring the All Dependent Children Act
I cosponsored the bipartisan All Dependent Children Count Act. The bill would expand the definition of a dependent for the Recovery Rebates for Individual sections of the CARES Act to include children younger than 19, students 24 and younger and no age limit for dependents who are disabled.
Urging Federal Approval of the University of Minnesota’s Ventilator Design
I requested that the Administration expeditiously review and approve the ventilator designed by the University of Minnesota in collaboration with Minnesota’s Digi-Key (Thief River Falls) and Boston Scientific. If approved, this device will save lives and help address the national shortage of ventilators. This design is open-source, which means that once approved by the FDA, any capable manufacturer will be able to immediately start producing these life saving devices. This is a national issue, and over 35 Members of Congress have joined me on a letter to FDA seeking to expedite this review.
Stopping COVID-19 scams and robocalls
I joined a bipartisan letter with my colleagues urging the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission to act to protect Americans from coronavirus-related scams.
Agriculture Committee Resource Page
The Agriculture Committee has put together coronavirus resources regarding the USDA, SNAP, and other agriculture-related agencies and programs.
In addition, I have also responded to the coronavirus crisis with the following actions:
- Supported the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
- Voted for the bipartisan Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act
- Cosponsored the First Families Coronavirus Response Act, working with House Leadership and the Administration to secure SNAP benefits during the outbreak and address issues in the agriculture industry
- Led a bipartisan letter with 44 Members of Congress seeking lower loan rates for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans
- Joined the Minnesota Congressional Delegation in a letter to Minnesotans regarding coronavirus
- Asked Congressional Leadership on supporting Rural Healthcare Providers
- Pressed the VA for answers on their response to coronavirus, alongside other House Veterans’ Affairs Committee members
- Requested Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) be accessible to Minnesota businesses, alongside the Minnesota Congressional Delegation
- Asked the Education Secretary to protect students from undue financial burdens with 72 bipartisan lawmakers
Coronavirus Response Phase III: The CARES Act
The House passed the bipartisan H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act. I support this emergency disaster bill which directs much-needed resources to our rural hospitals, opens up emergency financing to help businesses and nonprofits, and provides significant direct assistance to impacted Americans.
Direct Assistance Rebates
The CARES Act directs the IRS to deliver rebates directly to American families. The rebate amount depends on family size with a payment of $1,200 for each adult individual ($2,400 for joint filers) and $500 per qualifying child under age 17. The payment is reduced by $5 for every $100 of income exceeding $150,000 for a joint filer, $112,500 for a head of household filer, and $75,000 for anyone else (including single filers).
- Payment Calculation. The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible. Payment will be calculated from 2019 tax filings for those who have already filed them. Otherwise, the IRS will use 2018 tax filings to calculate.
- Direct Deposit. If the IRS has your direct deposit information, your rebate will come as a direct deposit. Otherwise, the Treasury plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.
- Non-filers. People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe taxes. IRS.gov/coronavirus will soon provide information instructing people in these groups on how to file a 2019 tax return with simple, but necessary, information including their filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information.
The latest information on these rebates can be found at IRS.gov/coronavirus.
For more information and answers to frequently asked questions about Unemployment Compensation (UC) in the CARES Act, read this fact sheet from the House Ways & Means Committee.
Expanded Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits
- States are permitted to expand eligibility to provide unemployment compensation (UC) to those who are not normally eligible for benefits,.
- Eligibility may include self-employed individuals, independent contractors, “gig economy” employees, and individuals who were unable to start a new job or contract due to the pandemic.
- These benefits would be applied for through state unemployment compensation offices.
- In addition, 13 weeks of additional UC benefits are available for those who need them in all states.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
- Workers eligible for state or federal UC benefits will receive $600 a week.
- FPUC benefits will be paid at the same time and in addition to regular state and federal benefits.
- These benefits will not affect eligibility for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Expansion of Work Sharing Programs to Provide Partial Benefits
- The federal government will temporarily provide full funding for states with “work sharing” programs, like Minnesota.
- Work sharing agreements allow employers prevent layoffs by reducing employee hours, and workers with reduced hours are eligible for partial unemployment benefits.
- Read more information on work sharing programs.
Support for Nonprofits and State, Tribal, and Local Governments
- Most nonprofit, tribal, and governmental entities do not pay per-worker unemployment taxes and instead have “reimbursable arrangements” with state employment programs, by which the entity pays the state 100% of the cost of UC for their furloughed and laid off workers.
- During the national emergency, the federal government will pay 50% of the reimbursements
- Workers at these organizations are also eligible for the FPUC.
The Act creates eligibility for farmers, agricultural, and rural businesses to receive up to $10 million in small business interruption loans from eligible lenders, including Farm Credit institutions, through the Small Business Administration.
It also provides the following additional funding:
- $9.5 billion emergency fund for the Office of the Secretary to assist producers impacted by coronavirus including targeted support for fruit and vegetable growers, dairy and livestock farmers, and local food producers
- $14 billion increase in Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) borrowing authority
- $3 million for staff and overtime at the Farm Service Agency to help manage the additional workload and logistical challenges caused by coronavirus
- $15.5 billion in additional funding for SNAP
- $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs/school lunch
Extension of Marketing Assistance Loan Maturity
The CARES Act authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend the term of Marketing Assistance Loans from 9 months to 12 months. USDA announced details of the new 12-month loan terms. The 12-month term applies to nonrecourse loans for all commodities except seed cotton and sugar. The loan must be any of the following:
- currently be open and in good standing with a maturity date on or after March 31, 2020
- requested by September 30, 2020
This extension is not available to recourse loans. For more information, contact your county Farm Service Agency.
The CARES Act included a number of provisions to support health care providers and help ensure access to care. Here are some of the provisions:
- $100 billion for a new emergency fund. Funds support hospitals caring for coronavirus patients. Hospitals would also get a 20 percent bump in Medicare payments for treating patients with the virus.
- Providing Hospitals Medicare Advance Payments. The legislation expands an existing Medicare accelerated payment program for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency period to assist hospitals with cash flow to help them maintain an adequate workforce, buy essential supplies, create additional infrastructure, and keep their doors open to care for patients. This is especially important in our rural areas. Qualified facilities can request up to a six month advanced lump sum or periodic payment.
- $185 million in HRSA funding. Funding isavailable to rural critical access hospitals, rural tribal health and telehealth programs, and poison control centers
- Free vaccines (once available) for individuals with insurance.While there is no COVID-19 vaccine yet, the legislation ensures that individuals with insurance will be able to access it at no charge when it does become available.
- Telehealth flexibility.Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Centers will be able to bill directly for telehealth services during the coronavirus crisis.
- Medicare Sequester Relief.Pauses the Medicare sequester during the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, which gives Medicare providers an immediate two percent increase in their Medicare payments.
- Access to Prescription Drug Refills.Requires Medicare Part D prescription drug plans to fill 90-day refills for prescription drugs for beneficiaries who request the longer refill, allowing beneficiaries to stay at home and avoid the pharmacy during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Community Health Centers. The bill provides $1.32 billion in supplemental funding for FY2020. It also extends community health centers, the National Health Service Corps, and teaching health centers that operate GME programs (THCGME) at current funding levels through November 30, 2020.
- Extends Special Diabetes Program. Extends the Special Diabetes Program and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians at current funding levels through November 30, 2020.
Individual Taxes & Retirement Accounts
The CARES Act waives early withdrawal penalties for up to $100,000 in coronavirus-related withdrawals from qualified retirement accounts, which can be paid back in income over three years. It doubles the amount taxpayers can borrow from certain qualified retirement accounts up to $100,000. Also, the Act suspends minimum distributions for 2020.
As Minnesota school and universities rapidly adapt to protect students, supplemental funding is increasingly important to acquire new resources and meet student needs. The CARES Act provides more than $30 billion in emergency education funding for colleges and universities, states and school districts. These funds will allow schools to continue to operate, and ensures educational employees and contractors will be paid during the period of any disruptions or closures related to coronavirus. Students are also protected from further financial harm as the bill requires the Education Department to suspend monthly payments on all federally held student loans, without interest, through Sept. 30.
Minnesota has declared childcare providers essential workers, highlighting their necessary role in keeping families at work. The CARES Act includes $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants and $5.3 billion for programs for children and families, including immediate assistance to child care centers.
To help businesses operate during and recuperate from the effects of the coronavirus, this disaster relief package does the following:
- Establishes a refundable Employee Retention Tax Credit for businesses that retain and pay workers, rather than lay them off.
- Implements the Paycheck Protection Program. The program creates loan forgiveness grants for small businesses and nonprofits to maintain existing workforce and help pay for other expenses. Businesses and nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees are generally eligible for loans up to $10 million at interest rates up to 4%. Loans will be provided through banks, credit unions, and other lenders.
- Suspends payment requirements for the 6.2% employer portion of Social Security taxes from the date of enactment through the end of 2020, with half of the balance due by the end of 2021 and the remainder due by the end of 2022
- Suspends the limit on excess business loss deductions in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
- Allows net operating losses from 2018, 2019, and 2020 be carried back five years and suspends the 80% taxable income limit until 2021
- Allocates $10 billion to SBA Emergency grants. Small business can receive up to $10,000 in immediate relief.
Additional CARES Act information
- Section-by-Section Summary of CARES Act
- Summary of Division B of the CARES Act
- FAQ on Direct Assistance Rebates to Americans
- Fact Sheet on Unemployment Provisions
- Fact Sheet on Local Entities & Nonprofit Funding Opportunities
- Fact Sheet on Social Security & the CARES Act
Additional Federal Action
Actions being taken by the U.S. government in response to coronavirus can be followed at www.usa.gov/coronavirus.
HUD announces grants for Tribes in Western Minnesota
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on Friday that it will make roughly $2.6 million in Indian Housing Block Grants (IHBGs) available to help tribal communities in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District respond to COVID-19. The funding will help Tribes deliver essential housing assistance to protect the health and safety of their members and communities during the pandemic.
This funding helps tribal communities with necessary resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m hopeful that the Indian Housing Block Grants will be disbursed as quickly as possible to ensure that tribal members have access to safe, secure homes to help keep the community healthy during this public health emergency.
The White Earth Band of Ojibwe, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the Upper Sioux Indian Community and the Lower Sioux Indian Community will receive funding through this initiative.
Coronavirus Phase 1 & 2 Legislation
Click on these links to learn more about specific provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:
- Free Testing for Coronavirus
- Emergency Sick Leave and Emergency Family Leave
- Unemployment Insurance
- Tax-Related Provisions, Including the Tax Credit for Employers Providing Paid Sick and Family Leave
- Child Nutrition
- Small Businesses
USDA Rural Development COVID-19 Resource Webpage
USDA Rural Development has launched a COVID-19 resource page to keep customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated on actions taken by the Agency to help rural residents, businesses, and communities impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Visit www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus for information on Rural Development loan payment assistance, application deadline extensions, and more.
H-2 Visa Adjustments
Secretary of State Pompeo has made temporary adjustments in processing visas applicationsforH-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers andH2-B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers. The Department intends to continue processing H-2 cases, but is modifying procedures in order to facilitate recommended social distancing measures.
- Consular officers are authorized to expand categories of H-2 visa applicants whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview.
- Applicants whose previous visas expired in the last 48 months, and who did not require a waiver of ineligibility the last time they applied, do not need to be interviewed in-person if they are applying for the same visa classification as their previous visa.
- Consular officers may choose to waive the visa interview requirement for first-time and returning H-2 applicants who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility
- Consular officers may still require an in-person interview for H-2 applicants in their country, based on circumstances in their country. Consult with the relevant embassy or consulate in order to confirm the level of services currently offered.
U.S.-Canada Border Restrictions
New restrictions on travel between Canada and the U.S. were implemented on March 21 in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The U.S. and Canada have agreed to permit only “essential” travel between the two countries. There have been several questions from Seventh District residents along the border and I have been assured by Customs and Border Patrol officials that crossing the border to get groceries and other supplies is essential travel. However, those looking to cross the border for recreation or tourism purposes will not be allowed to enter.
Governor Walz announced a Stay At Home order directing Minnesotans to limit movement outside of their homes beyond essential needs from midnight on March 28th through April 10th at 5:00 PM. If Stay At Home guidelines are followed, Minnesota will reach its peak number of coronavirus cases in 14 weeks. This will allow the government and hospitals more time to expand the state’s intensive care unit capacity and meet the projected need when Minnesota cases hit the peak.
- Minnesota COVID/Stay Home page: FAQs, issue-specific hotlines, governor’s actions, and resources
- Minnesota Situation Updates: Regularly updated data on MN coronavirus cases
- Guidance for Employers
If you have questions, the Minnesota State Emergency Operation Center has a hotline open between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM at 1-800-657-3504.
You can sign up for daily email notifications from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) by clicking on the button below.
Minnesota Health Plans
Minnesotans with commercial insurance—including individuals, small businesses, and some large businesses—are now eligible for the following benefits:
- Minnesotans will have no cost-sharing charges for COVID testing.
- Minnesotans who are hospitalized will have no cost-sharing charges for in-network hospitalization.
- Minnesotans will have expanded access to telemedicine services. This will help people to stay home and access care if they need it.
State Stay at Home Order
Here is some additional information provided on the Stay At Home order, provided by the state:
What This Means for Minnesotans
Minnesotans may leave their home or residence only to perform any of the following activities, and while doing so, they should practice social distancing:
- Health and safety activities, such as obtaining emergency services or medical supplies
- Outdoor activities, such as walking pets, hiking, running, biking, hunting, or fishing
- Necessary Supplies and Services, such as getting groceries, gasoline, or carry-out
- Essential and interstate travel, such as returning to a home from outside this state
- Care of others, such as caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household
- Displacement, such as moving between emergency or homeless shelters if you are without a home
- Relocation to ensure safety, such as relocating to a different location if your home is unsafe due to domestic violence, sanitation, or essential operations reasons
- Tribal activities and lands, such as activities by members within the boundaries of their tribal reservation
Who is Considered an Essential Worker
Workers who work in critical sectors during this time are exempt from the stay at home order. These exemptions are based on federal guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with some Minnesota-specific additions.
This includes, but is not limited to, jobs in:
- Healthcare and public health;
- Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders;
- Emergency shelters, congregate living facilities, drop-in centers;
- Child care;
- Food and agriculture;
- News media;
- Water and wastewater; and
- Critical manufacturing.
To learn more about who is considered a critical worker, please visit the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s website. If you have additional questions, please email CriticalSectors@state.mn.us.
The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs is in daily communication with VA leadership and has put together a resource page for veterans. This page will be continually updated as more information becomes publicly available.
Remember, help is available for veterans in crisis by:
- Calling the Veteran Crisis Line at 1 (800) 273-8255 and pressing 1
- Visiting VeteransCrisisLine.Net/Chat
- Texting 838255
If you want to follow my work on the Committee and receive updates about coronavirus resources for Veterans, sign up here.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Update
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) held a meeting share updates on . MDA is working to ease the process to get Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) for trucks through the Public Safety Office, which have become more difficult due to coronavirus just as farmers and others are getting ready for spring field work.
Commissioner Thom Petersen mentioned that the Department received 525 producer applications to grow hemp in 2020. If anyone has questions regarding the hemp application please call the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Call 651-201-6000 or toll free 800-967-2474.
The FSA and NRCS Offices will continue to be open for business by phone appointment, according to Joe Martin, State Executive Director FSA and Troy Daniell, NRCS State Conservationist.
FEMA updated Region V Members of Congress (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin) on their work amidst the coronavirus pandemic. They have addressed concerns about the lack of supplies by changing the supply chain transportation system. Normally shipping supplies takes 35-40 days from other parts of the world. Now, FEMA uses what they call an “air bridge”. This air transportation now takes 3-5 days.
Questions were raised to FEMA on the shortages of masks, ventilators, testing, gowns, and facilities, and whether local communities will be reimbursed for their costs. To address this “unprecedented pandemic” FEMA is working with American and foreign manufacturers and medical providers to target demands daily.
Housing Resources from Freddie Mac
Freddie Mac is working to ensure families impacted by the coronavirus have options that will help them stay in their homes.
Relief for Homeowners
Freddie Mac has recently announced several relief options for families who have a hardship related to COVID-19 and are having difficulty paying their mortgage. These options for borrowers living in Freddie-Mac-owned homes can be found here.
To seek relief, those borrowers should first contact their loan servicer (the company that sends the monthly mortgage payment statement) to review and access these options. You can determine if your loan is owned by Freddie Mac using our loan lookup tool, available here: https://www3.freddiemac.com/loanlookup/. If you have trouble getting in touch with your servicer you can contact 1-800-FREDDIE for help.
Freddie Mac is also offering additional flexibilities for those who are in the process of purchasing or refinancing a home, including temporary changes to our appraisal and income verification requirements.
Relief for Multifamily Borrowers and Renters
Relief from eviction, as provided by the federal CARES Act, is now available to renters living in properties with federally-backed mortgage loans for a period of 120 days beginning on March 27, 2020.
Freddie Mac is also providing its Multifamily borrowers the option to defer their loan payments, provided they are current on all payments as of February 1, 2020, and can show hardship as a consequence of COVID-19. In turn, Freddie Mac is prohibiting landlords of properties whose owners are granted deferrals from instituting or pursuing the eviction of any tenant based solely on non-payment of rent due to a COVID-19 related reason during the deferral period. Families in this situation may contact their landlord for additional information.
Scams & Consumer Resources
My office has been informed of instances of scammers using local organizations contact information and website copy to trick individuals looking to explore potential SBA loans and other resources provided through the recent passage of the CARES Act.
Use caution when being contacted on behalf of an organization, and always reach out to the organization directly, particularly when being asked for personal identifiable information like social security numbers.
The IRS released a warning for people to be on the lookout for a surge of calls and email phishing attempts about the coronavirus. The IRS advises to watch out for schemes tied to economic impact payments or fake charities. These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft. Retirees are among potential targets.
Alongside 89 bipartisan Congress members, I recently signed onto a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) urging action to protect Americans from COVID-19 scams.
Employee, Business, & Non-Profit Resources
The Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) has updated their website to help businesses better understand state and federal loan options available to them.
Emergency Fund to Support Community Organizations
The Otto Bremer Trust (OBT) has announced the creation of a $50 million emergency fund to provide financial support to Minnesota nonprofits and other community organizations. The new fund will provide emergency funding, loans, lines of credit, and other financial resources to organizations impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
More details about the fund will be posted to OBT’s website and shared directly to community organizations.
New Guidance Released for Employees & Employers
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published its first round of implementation guidance pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The guidance addresses critical questions such as:
- How does an employer count its number of employees to determine coverage?
- How can small businesses obtain an exemption?
- How does an employer count hours for part-time employees?
- How does an employer calculate wages employees are entitled to under the FFCRA?
The initial WHD guidance is available in three-parts:
Payroll Tax Credits for Small and Midsize employers
U.S. Treasury Department, IRS and U.S. Department of Labor announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits designed to immediately and fully reimburse them for the cost of providing COVID-19 related leave to their employees. Additional guidance, including how to claim the credits in advance, is being prepared and will be posted to the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on IRS.gov as soon as it is available.
Minnesota’s IRS Stakeholder Liaison has shared the following about the tax credits:
- These do not apply to employers of 500 employees or more.
- There are separate rules for employers of 1-49 employees and 50-499 employees.
- The IRS guidance mentions “employees,” not Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs).
Please refer to the IRS’s Coronavirus Tax Relief page with questions and further information at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
Emergency Loan Program for Minnesota Small Businesses
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is creating an emergency loan program to help Minnesota small business owners during COVID-19 closures. These dollars will be used by DEED’s lender network to make loans of between $2,500 and $35,000 for qualifying small businesses. The loans will be 50% forgivable and offered at a 0% interest rate.
Right now, this is the only program offering a portion of the loan to be forgivable. Businesses need to apply to one of the approved lenders to receive the loan.
Here are some notes from DEED:
- The business does not need to be in the process of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan or have been denied an SBA loan.
- Initial discussions of the proposed legislation and EO included a prohibition of any type of gambling in the business for our proposed borrowers. Since the prohibition was removed, the requirement has been modified to the following: Gambling cannot be the primary source of revenue for the business.
- Non-profit organizations are not eligible.
- All applications should be submitted to one of the lenders noted under the “Apply” tab. Once the lender approves the loan, it will be submitted to DEED for final review. View the approved lenders list here.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available Now
Minnesota small businesses can apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
Personal Emergency Relief for Minnesota Artists
Springboard for the Arts sponsors a Personal Emergency Relief Fund that provides Minnesotan artists grants of up to $500 to compensate for income lost due to canceled gigs or events. More information and the application can be found on Springboard for the Arts’ website at https://springboardforthearts.org/additional-resources/personal-emergency-relief-fund/.
Avoid Laying Off Employees with Partial Unemployment Insurance Program
The Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program developed the “Shared Work” initiative to help employers avoid laying off employees. Businesses can apply for employees working reduced hours to receive partial unemployment insurance benefits to offset a portion of their lost income.
Additional Small Business Resources
For more information on SBA programs for the coronavirus, visit www.sba.gov/coronavirus.
Local Partner Information
- SBA Resource Partners are ready to help with no-cost, one-on-one business counseling regarding COVID-19.
- Entrepreneur Fund has COVID-19 Updates & Resources and offering 30-minute consult with a Lender or Advisor by email or phone.
- WomenVenture is open, ready to help, and has created a COVID 19 Update Hub with details.
- Minnesota DEED has created a COVID-19 webpage with Minnesota specific information to help small businesses.
- WBDC/WBENC Covid 19 resources for Women Owned Businesses.
- DEED is creating a Small Business Emergency Loan Program by making available $30 million from special revenue funds.
Federal Program Information
- For information on all federal programs, visit www.usa.gov/coronavirus or https://www.usa.gov/espanol/coronavirus (en Español).
- The IRS has established a web page to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus.
- The U.S. Department of Labor has resources to help workers and employers prepare for the COVID-19 virus, including use of Family Medical Leave.
- New guidance outlines flexibilities that states have in administering their unemployment insurance programs to help Americans affected by coronavirus.
Family & Student Resources
For school and child care related questions on COVID-19, call the Minnesota School and Child Care Hotline between 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM at 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504.
Food Service Map
The Stevens County Geographic Information System (GIS) Technician has created a food service map to keep county residents informed of food availability during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Alzheimer’s Association Resources
The Alzheimer’s Association is providing resources for those impacted by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, including COVID-19 Tips for Dementia Caregivers.
Online resources, virtual community programs, telephone support groups, caregiver tips and a 24/7 Helpline (800-272-3900) are all available.
Visit alz.org/mnnd for more information from the Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter.
I asked you the following questions about the federal coronavirus (COVID-19) response. Here is what you said:
Do you think the Administration should announce a national order to close down non-essential travel similar to what was done in Minnesota and several other states?
Do you think the President should use the Defense Production Act to compel companies to produce some of the healthcare products that are in short supply?
Communities Plan Porch Light Tribute to Essential Workers
Minnesotans are planning to show their support for essential employees through a porch light tribute. On Wednesday, April 8th, Minnesotans are encouraging their neighbors to turn on their porch lights from 7:00 PM to 12:00 AM as a symbol of their thanks to those healthcare and pharmacy workers, first responders, truck drivers, sanitation workers, grocery and convenience store employees, and others helping their communities during the coronavirus.
Companies & Healthcare Facilities Team-Up in Western MN
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other supplies are critical to our front line healthcare workers' successful battle against COVID-19. During times of crisis, folks in the 7th District step up.
Greater Fergus Falls and Lake Region Healthcare have announced a joint partnership with Excel Plastics LLC and Shortex Products, Inc to produce personal protective equipment and other supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fey Industries, Inc of Edgerton retooled their factory last week to produce personal protective equipment to help our healthcare workers.
CRP Grassland Reserve Sign-Up Open through May 15
I want to remind our cow-calf operators about the CRP Grassland option that helps provide an incentive to keep land in grass and provides the natural benefits to grassland that running livestock provides. Sign-up continues through May 15.
2020 Census Response Rate
Are you curious about how many people in your community are responding to the 2020 Census? Stay up to date with this map of self-response rates from across the United States from the Census Bureau.
Congressional Art Competition
High-school students who live in Minnesota’s Seventh District are encouraged to submit their artwork for the 2020 Congressional Art Competition. The Competition is open to all high-school students in 9th through 12th grades, with exceptions for schools that have 7th and 8th grade students on the same campus as the High School. The overall winner from Congressman Peterson’s district will have their artwork displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol.
The grand prize winner will be flown to Washington, D.C. for a reception in late June 2020 honoring his or her artwork, which will be on display for one year. Two semi-finalists will have their artwork displayed in my district offices.