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Hero Pay Conversations Reach Impasse

The Frontline Worker Pay Work Group met for the final time yesterday. Unfortunately, the legislators could not find a consensus on a proposal for Hero Pay bonus distribution. After meeting over a dozen times, lawmakers sent a DFL-supported report, known as the majority proposal, and a Republican report, known as the minority proposal, to be reviewed by the legislature if a special session were to be called by Gov. Walz, an increasingly unlikely scenario.

Where things are

The working group on Hero Pay bonuses met for its final time this past week to determine whether they could strike a last-minute compromise recommendation to propose to the legislature. DFL members of the working group highlighted a new proposal that moved many of their initial positions closer to their Republican colleagues. For instance, DFL members shortened the requirement around the duration of employment, lessened the unemployment insurance qualifier, and shortened the time window for the application process. However, DFL and Republican members still had significant differences when it came to the amount of and distribution strategy around payments to frontline workers. After comparing the two proposals (the Republican proposal remained unchanged from the previous hearing), members contentiously debated how best to move forward. After almost an hour, they reached no agreement. Each group of lawmakers held a press conference, blaming the other for falling short on getting one agreed-upon recommendation to the legislature. 

Where things are going

The working group has decided this will be the last time that they convene. As a result, no new proposals are expected. For the two proposals to move forward, Gov. Walz must call a special session. However, most capitol insiders believe it is unlikely to occur before the start of the 2022 legislative session. Then, in the special session, lawmakers would have to debate the merits of each proposal, an exercise that could quickly become political theater.

How you can help

Given that the working group will not meet again, we believe it is time to shift our focus to the more significant workforce issues facing the long-term care field and advocate for more systematic changes. In the lead-up to the 2022 session, we ask that you consider hosting a lawmaker at your site to show them firsthand your story and talk about the solutions we will be pursuing together. Feel free to reach out to Matt Steele, Director of Government Affairs, to get a visit with your lawmaker scheduled soon!

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