Some office-based businesses will be able to reopen on Monday (4/24/2020)

>> Click here to join Tony’s legislative update email list <<

By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/24/2020

Good afternoon,

On Thursday, the governor announced that industrial, manufacturing, and office-based businesses will be able to reopen on Monday if they have safety plans in place.

According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), in order to reopen, these businesses are required to do three things:

1. Create and share with their employees a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that explains the actions they are taking to ensure social distancing and keep workers safe. The Department of Labor and Industry has created a template plan, which is optional for businesses to use as a starting point.

2. Engage in health screening of employees each day at arrival.

3. Continue to use telework whenever possible.

For more information, visit https://mn.gov/deed/newscenter/covid/safework/

I’ve had local retail businesses ask if they can sell their products with curbside pickup like restaurants are allowed to do. This request makes perfect sense to me as it can be done as safely as picking up your dinner. Unfortunately, DEED did not agree. The response we heard was that curbside retail pickup can only be allowed if the item being purchased is essential.

I’ve talked to the Minnesota Retailers Association, and that organization is obviously supportive of the local request. I’ve also reached out to the Governor’s office and shared these concerns.

On several fronts, it’s good news that many employees will be heading back to work this coming week, and hopefully more businesses will be able to follow suit very soon when they can safely do so.

DISTANCE LEARNING WILL CONTINUE FOR K-12 STUDENTS

Also on Thursday, Governor Walz made the decision to keep students at home for the remainder of the school year as distance learning will continue.

While this move is being made for the health and safety of students and staff, it’s tough not to feel bad for our graduating seniors, who are missing out on things like spring sports, activities, and proms. All of us share in their disappointment, but hopefully the Class of 2020 will get to take part in a graduation ceremony at a later date when its safe for everyone to gather and celebrate their accomplishments.

HOUSE COMMITTEE HEARINGS CONTINUE

As less than a month remains in session, many committees are trying to wrap up their work and get bills to the House floor. Many of us have a new concern due to the COVID-19 pandemic: additional state spending.

Keep in mind our projected $1 billion surplus has disappeared thanks to coronavirus. Last week I heard one state economist suggest that due to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, the more than $2 billion we have in budget reserves may also not be enough to cover our losses.

In other words, we need to be careful if spending bills are approved without citing a revenue source, because at this point we appear to be out of money.

I’ll keep you posted as session moves forward.

Be well,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-3135
E-mail: rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

>> Click here to join Tony’s legislative update email list <<

Radio Interview (4/15/2020)

kdwaOnce again this year I’ll be visiting about the legislative session on KDWA.

Here’s my latest KDWA InDepth radio program.

This week I give an update on the definition of essential workers under Governor Walz’z Executive Order, and the push to allow restaurants to provide beer and wine with curbside ordering.

Listen to State Representative Tony Jurgens on InDepth radio conversation on KDWA.

Rep. Tony Jurgens, District 54B

Things I’ve been working on (4/9/2020)

>> Click here to join Tony’s legislative update email list <<

By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/9/2020

Good morning,

As you may have heard, Governor Walz has extended the stay-at-home order until May 4, and has relaxed a few work restrictions.

During this continued time of stay-at-home transition, I want to share with you some of the things I’ve been working on over the past few weeks, the people that have reached out to me that I’ve been trying to help (from schools to businesses), and the new realities we face at the State Capitol.

LOCAL SCHOOL UPDATES

I’ve been in contact with local schools to see how things are going. Remember, the school buildings might be closed, but schools are not. As expected, there have been some challenges with distance learning, especially since not all students have access to needed technology. In addition to distance learning, school districts are also serving meals and providing child care.

Teachers, faculty and staff have stepped up, and in some cases they’ve been called upon to perform new tasks. Everyone is pitching in. Districts have reported that things are mostly going well so far.

For years, schools have asked for more control, innovation, project based learning, less focus on seat time, measuring the outputs, not the inputs and so forth. Now is their chance to shine, as this is an opportunity to see what is possible. This is not a pilot project, this is our new reality for the near future. Let’s see what good can come out of this for the future of our schools.

LOCAL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE

I’ve also heard from many of you asking how your business is impacted by the governor’s stay at home executive order.

So who is considered “essential?”

After hearing from a Hastings florist, I asked the Governor’s Office and received clarification that florists can deliver plants and flowers as long as social distancing takes place. This is good news for all florists as it helps these local business owners who would have been at risk of losing inventory.

Funeral homes in our district also were interested in how they were impacted by the Governor’s actions, so I also reached out on their behalf. With senior living homes and hospitals limiting visitation, funeral home services are now, more than ever, an important part of the grieving process. While large gatherings are not allowed, small groups of immediate family can pay last respects to their loved ones.

We have several marinas in and around our district. I was contacted about concerns for dry docked boats in event of spring flooding, and asked the administration for guidance.

It was decided that marina operations are allowed to protect boats, docks and other infrastructure as long as they remained closed to the public and social distancing is followed.

I’ve also been in contact with Regina Hospital as well as senior living homes in our district, as it’s important to remember these workers caring for our loved ones.

I’ve learned that staffing is an issue. For example Regina Senior Living has 25 open positions, and Augustana Care is also hiring. They are also concerned about the logistics of purchasing hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies as they continue their tireless efforts to protect residents from COVID-19.

Area child care providers are also concerned about losing kids as well as revenue. Some good news for them: they can now apply for Parent Aware grants. Some have also reported having quantities limited when ordering cleaning supplies, requiring several smaller deliveries. I pointed out to them that the governors executive order specifically stated these items shouldn’t be limited, so hopefully that change has been made.

As always, if you have a question in regards to your business, or anything COVID-19 related, please contact me at rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn or 651-296-3135 and I will do my best to get you an answer.

MOVING FORWARD

The legislature continues to work, even though we’re doing things differently.

Conference calls and video conference committee meetings – such as Hastings Chamber members, county delegations, weekly COVID-19 related calls with the White House – have become the norm. Hundreds of emails from constituents asking for clarification and help have been received, and I’m happy to do it.

We are in very difficult times now and it’s likely that things will get worse before they get better. We’re asked to #StayHomeMN, limit our contact with each other, and adhere to recommended social distancing guidelines and other safety precautions.

Much like 9/11 changed us, our lives will be forever impacted by the deadly reality of a worldwide pandemic.

Eventually, the worst will be behind us. We will return to a life that will become our new normal. We’ll spend time with our families, friends and neighbors. We’ll go to restaurants, ball games and concerts. Our businesses will reopen and people will be allowed to go back to work.

We will have brighter days, we will return to prosperity and we will get through this together.

I wish you all a Happy Easter and Passover.
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-3135
E-mail: rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

>> Click here to join Tony’s legislative update email list <<

The latest news from the Capitol (4/7/2020)

>> Click here to join Tony’s legislative update email list <<

By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/7/2020

Hello from St. Paul,

As we enter another week under the Governor’s stay-at-home order, I want to share with you some of the latest news from the Capitol.

WORKERS COMPENSATION BILL APPROVED

On Tuesday, the Minnesota House approved a workers’ compensation bill to protect first responders. It is the product of the Workers Compensation Advisory Council which includes members from both business and labor.

We’ve heard a lot from workers on the front lines regarding workers comp and a presumption that positive COVID-19 tests can be job related, so I’m pleased Republicans and Democrats were able to come together and help them.

It’s unfortunate that at least one local lawmaker has been using this worldwide pandemic to take opportunistic partisan shots in an election year. I think Minnesotans, and the people of this district, expect better and deserve to see us work together in a bipartisan manner. As expected, we did that by taking care of the first responders and health professionals that are protecting us and keeping us safer.

PROJECTED BUDGET SURPLUS: IT’S GONE

I want to be clear about the state’s budget. First, there is no longer a budget surplus. Just a short few weeks ago, we were talking about a projected budget surplus of more than $1.5 billion. It’s important to note this was projected and was based on state spending levels as well as revenue collections from state income and sales taxes.

The COVID-19 response is causing far greater spending and is severely impacting tax revenue, therefore the budget surplus that was projected is gone, budget reserves will be needed in the future and we might still face a deficit.

It’s common sense, really. If some businesses are forced to close due to executive action and thousands of residents are forced to go on unemployment, income and sales tax collections are obviously going to drop dramatically. Meanwhile, overall state spending has not been lowered, yet the revenue collections needed to support that level of spending are no longer there.

This is why it’s important for us to immediately identify areas where Minnesota can limit non-essential spending.

In my next update, I’ll share with you some information I’ve heard from our school districts, as well as local businesses I’ve tried to help that are now facing unforeseen challenges and are looking for answers.

Be well,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-3135
E-mail: rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

>> Click here to join Tony’s legislative update email list <<