Minnesota’s Legislature passes worker’s compensation for front line workers

Updated Wednesday, April 8, at 9:25 a.m.

The Minnesota Legislature convened Tuesday to address worker’s compensation issues if a first responder, health care worker or law enforcement officer falls ill to COVID-19.

Lawmakers practiced personal distancing for the session, with only a few members on the chamber floors and the rest in designated rooms in the state’s Capitol.

Rep. John Persell (DFL-Bemidji), said the bill will help those on the front lines get easier access to benefits.

Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman (DFL), said in a press briefing Tuesday before the vote that the financial impact of this bill is not immediately clear, but added that health care workers, first responders and law enforcement officers may not be able to establish clear-cut proof that’s usually needed in worker’s compensation cases.

Across the aisle in another legislative body, Senate Republicans were also in favor of the measure.

“I am thrilled an agreement is finally in place to make sure first responders like nurses, firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and other health care workers are taken care of if they are infected with COVID,” said Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester).

“They are the ones on the front lines, and they need peace of mind that they won’t be abandoned if they get sick while putting themselves in danger to keep the rest of us healthy.”

Both the House and Senate passed the measure with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The legislature is currently in recess until April 14.

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