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Minnesota governor signs bills extending workers comp presumption for those sickened with COVID-19

The Minnesota Legislature moved within a matter of days to pass the legislation and the governor signed it into law on Friday.

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz presents his administration's supplemental budget recommendations Wednesday, Jan. 26, to reporters at a news conference at the Department of Revenue in St. Paul.
Alex Derosier / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Friday, Feb. 4, signed into law a proposal that would extend a presumption that health care and public safety workers contracted COVID-19 on the job, making it easier to draw down workers' compensation benefits.

The policy is set to take effect Saturday, Feb. 5, and will impact police officers, firefighters, first responders and nurses that contract the illness. Soon after the pandemic took hold in 2020, lawmakers approved a change to the state's policy to presume the workers became sick while working their front-line positions.

But that policy expired on Dec. 31 and workers who tested positive for COVID-19 in the meantime could be asked to prove where they got the illness as a condition of pulling down wage replacements and medical assistance.

The Legislature swiftly voted the extension through both chambers on Thursday and lawmakers said they would work to ensure that those caught in the gap of time not covered by the legislation had an easier time accessing compensation. It was the first bill to pass through the Capitol during the 2022 legislative session, which started Monday, Jan. 31.

“This bipartisan bill — passed within days of the Legislature gaveling in for the 2022 session — makes it clear that in Minnesota, we are grateful for our first responders, take care of our workers, and give them both the benefits they deserve," Walz said in a news release.

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More than 22,000 employees drew down workers' compensation since the change took effect, to the tune of under $20 million. Initial estimates for the change were more than 10 times that.

House Democrats said that the temporary gap in the presumption impacted about 2,000 front-line workers who contracted COVID-19.

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Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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