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At the Capitol: Minnesota Lawmakers Reveal First Public Proposals on Hero Pay

A select working group began hosting hearings about allocating the money set aside during the 2021 special session for Hero Pay bonuses for frontline workers in late July. Several different groups are vying for a piece of the $250 million fund, and this week, the working group released two separate proposals drawn upon party lines.

Where things are
After several weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, lawmakers issued separate partisan proposals on distributing Hero Pay monies to frontline workers. In general, the Republican members of the working group proposed a narrower set of eligibility requirements that prioritized workers that faced the highest risk personally throughout the pandemic. Their proposal made eligible nurses, first responders, corrections officers, long-term care workers, and hospice providers for $1200 bonuses. Those workers must not have been able to telecommute or work from home, received less than one month of unemployment, and worked a minimum of 1200 hours between March 2020 and Dec. 2020. 

In contrast, the DFL members of the working group critiqued responded with language that advocated for a larger group of people receiving a lower-paying bonus, starting at $375. In particular, DFL lawmakers requested education workers, meatpackers, childcare staff, and grocery store workers be included, amongst other groups.

To add to the conversation, yesterday, Governor Walz issued a statement echoing the earlier request made by DFL lawmakers that the universe of workers eligible for Hero Pay bonuses represents more sectors than initially presented in the Republican proposal.

The LeadingAge Minnesota Public Affairs team will continue to advocate for long-term care workers receiving $1500 for their service and sacrifice throughout the pandemic.

Where things are going
Negotiations continue to happen behind closed doors to reach an agreement between factions of the working group. At this point, there are no future meetings scheduled. However, LeadingAge Minnesota staff are meeting with lawmakers from the working group individually to continue to voice the importance of long-term care caregivers receiving a meaningful bonus. While public offers have been exchanged this past week, historically, offers made behind closed doors represent actual progress on reaching an official comprise.

How you can help
While no hearings are currently scheduled, you can help by contacting your lawmaker directly via phone, email or setting up a meeting with them to discuss the importance of quickly passing Hero Pay bonuses for frontline workers in long-term care settings. If you'd like to meet with your local lawmaker or want help crafting your message, please reach out to Matt Steele, the Director of Government Affairs, at msteele@leadingagemn.org.

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