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 (updated 3/25/2020)

Coronavirus Update – March 23, 2020


AJK Action (can share)

-          Today, Senators Klobuchar, Lisa Murkowski and Bob Casey along with Senators Chris Coons, Bernie Sanders, Richard Blumenthal, Kirsten Gillibrand, Ed Markey, Mazie Hirono, Jack Reed, Jacky Rosen, Tina Smith, Kamala Harris, Sherrod Brown, Dick Durbin, Maggie Hassan, Bob Menendez, Elizabeth Warren, Catherine Cortez Masto, Mark Warner, Jon Tester, Cory Booker, Ron Wyden, and Sheldon Whitehouse wrote a letter to the Administration for Children and Families as well as the Office on Violence Against Women expressing concern that there are families out there who are at an increased risk of domestic violence during the coronavirus outbreak and asked that these agencies provide more flexibility and resources to help victims and survivors of domestic violence.


-          Today, Senators Klobuchar and Kevin Cramer along with Senators Tina Smith, Dan Sullivan, Tammy Baldwin, Steve Daines, Doug Jones, Lisa Murkowski, Jon Tester, John Barrasso, Pat Roberts, Jacky Rosen, Todd Young, and Gary Peters introduced the Keeping Critical Connections Act. This bill would help small broadband providers make sure that students and families are connected during this outbreak. The Bill would appropriate $2 billion for a Keeping Critical Connections fund at the FCC under which small broadband providers with fewer than 250,000 customers could be compensated for broadband services—if they provided free or discounted broadband services or upgrades—during the pandemic for low-income families who could not afford to pay their bills or provided distance learning capability for students. The bill is endorsed by NTCA—the Rural Broadband Association, WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the Minnesota Telecommunications Alliance, and the Broadband Association of North Dakota (BAND).


Federal Action

-          The big news still remains coming to a consensus on the third stimulus package. Here’s what’s been shared publicly on what’s allegedly included in the Senate bill – granted they’re still in negotiations:

o   Approximately $500 billion in direct payments to people, in two waves of checks of up to $1,200 for an individual earning up to $75,000 a year. Additional payments for families with children could push the total to $3,000 for a family of four.


o   Up to $500 billion in “liquidity assistance” for distressed industries. The amount provides up to $61 billion for passenger and cargo airlines and contractors, including $32 billion in grants and $29 billion in loans. It’s possible this $500 billion fund would have an inspector general and an oversight board, with lawmakers selecting members of the board. The Treasury secretary would also have to provide testimony to the board on transactions, and there would be restrictions on things like stock buybacks and chief executive pay at companies that received help.


o   $350 billion in small business loans.


o   Up to $130 billion for hospitals. Republicans want closer to $75 billion, Hospitals want $100 billion and Democrats want $130 billion.


o   $250 billion for expanding unemployment insurance.


o   Over $10 billion for drug development, and $4 billion for masks, gloves, gowns and ventilators.


o   Democrats are pushing for $150 billion for state and local governments.


o   The White House proposed $45.8 billion for federal agencies; both Democrats and Republicans want more.


-          Nancy Pelosi’s $2.5 trillion proposal unveiled yesterday includes:

o   Billions to help states conduct elections by mail


o   Would make coronavirus treatment free for patients, and raise the direct cash payments to individuals to $1,500 each instead of $1,200 as in the Senate plan.


o   $500 billion in grants and loans for small businesses


o   $200 billion for state governments


o   $15 billion for local governments


o   $150 billion for hospitals


o   $60 billion for schools and universities and


o   $61 billion in grants and loans for airlines, but requires air carriers receiving aid to cut their carbon emissions in half by 2050.


State Action (can share)

-          Yesterday, Governor Walz announced a total of four executive orders:

o   Suspending Evictions and Writs of Recovery During the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency

o   Providing immediate relief to small businesses during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency.  The Peacetime Small Business & Independent Contractors Forgivable Loan Program helps those businesses with a 50% forgivable loan of up to $35k

o   Directing Non-Hospital Entities with Personal Protective Equipment to Conduct an Inventory, so that officials know where/how many PPE currently exist in Minnesota outside of hospitals.

o   Stopping elective veterinary surgeries on animals to preserve all health care resources for COVID.


-          Governor Walz also announced an additional $356 million budget request sent to state legislators to support the state’s response efforts to the coronavirus outbreaks.


-          Additional information on the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s new loan program to assist small business affected by the executive order to close all non-essential businesses amid the coronavirus outbreak. The loans will be interest free; range from $2,500 - $35,00, based on the applicant’s financial need; and be paid back monthly over five years and the first payment will be deferred six months with the potential for partial forgiveness. Follow this link for more information on how to apply.


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