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Walz signs bill to reward frontline workers, replenish unemployment insurance

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove says the $2.73B infusion into the UI means Minnesota businesses won't get hit with tax hikes as the economy rebounds.

ST PAUL, Minn. — With a sweep of his pen, Gov. Tim Walz celebrated a bipartisan piece of legislation that will benefit Minnesota businesses, employees, and front line workers who served their neighbors through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Frontline Worker bill will pump a reported $2.73 billion into a fund that was largely drained by claims as workers were laid off or terminated due to the impacts of the pandemic. Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove says approximately 130,000 businesses across the state will receive UI tax relief with the signing of the bill into law. 

"Minnesota businesses, especially small businesses and their workers, were deeply impacted by COVID-19," said Commissioner Grove in a released statement. "This investment means we won't have to raise future UI tax rates right at this critical moment of expansion for Minnesota's economy. Avoiding higher tax payments means more money for business owners to put toward salaries, benefits and capital expenses."

DEED will immediately begin recalculating the taxes employers owe. To learn more about the process business owners can check out a FAQ page on the agency's website. 

The law signed by Gov. Walz also provides $500 million in relief for front line workers deemed essential as the pandemic gripped Minnesota. Those eligible for a $750 reward include workers from the health care, child care, school, food service, public transit, long-term care, building service, emergency response, retail, and manufacturing sectors.

Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Roslyn Robertson says the process in getting relief check to front line workers will begin this week, as the state finalizes a deal with a vendor who will build out a computer system for the process. That build-out is expected to take 3 to 4 weeks, after which a 45-day application process will commence for workers. 

Applications that are processed and approved will result in checks being issued approximately 10 to 12 weeks from today. Robertson says there will also be a 15-day period for those who are turned down for relief checks to appeal the decision. 

Robertson added that no checks will be issued until the 45-day application process is complete. 

"We will be moving as quickly as we can to ensure that... we are doing the outreach to make employees aware that they can apply," Commissioner Robertson said at the bill signing ceremony.  

For more information on the frontline worker relief process you can check out a dedicated web page of frequently asked questions that will be updated with the latest developments. 

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