April 7, 2020 Legislature Passes Law To Protect Emergency Responders

SAINT PAUL — After nearly a month of back and forth negotiating, the Minnesota Legislature today passed a bill that would help protect the emergency responders on the front line of the current fight against the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The state’s firefighters, police, nurses, corrections workers, homecare workers and other public health workers had been pushing the state to recognize the danger inherent in their work. They sought a tweak to existing law that would recognize a presumption that if they were to contract Covid-19, that it was likely due to a workplace exposure, and thus deserving of coverage by the state’s workers compensation program.

Prior to this law being passed, the workers would need to prove they were infected on the line of duty to receive workers comp coverage. If they were unable to pinpoint the moment of infection, they would be required to pay for their own medical treatment and use sick time to cover any time spent in quarantine.

“This is an important message the state is sending to those of us on the front lines of this battle,” Said Chris Parsons, A St. Paul Firefighter and President of the state’s professional firefighter union. “While we still face a shortage of personal protective equipment, this new law will give us some peace of mind that should the worst happen, we won’t need to worry about how we will pay for the resulting medical attention and/or quarantine time.”

A coalition of groups including the Minnesota Professional FireFighters, Minnesota Police & Police Officers Association, Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, Minnesota Nurses Association, AFSCME Council 5, AFSCME Council 65, Minnesota Licensed Practical Nurses, Minnesota Teamsters D.R.I.V.E., Teamster Local #320 and the Minnesota State Highway Patrol Troopers Association led the effort on getting this bill passed.

“The Governor, the bill authors, Senator Howe and Representative Wolgamott, as well the leadership in both bodies all deserve credit for remembering nurses, healthcare workers, firefighers, and police are on the frontlines of this crisis,” said Mary C. Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “It was a real team effort, and it was good to see that when push came to shove, the state’s leaders were able to put partisanship aside and stand in unity to support the state’s emergency responders.”

More Info:​ ​ For more information, or to set up an interview with any of the other participating organizations, please contact Nate Dybvig at 651.230.3018 or ​nate@spinfirm.com​.