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Construction Industry Deemed Essential Business – Clarification Letter

CAM Members

Yesterday, March 25, 2020, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-20. The order requires Minnesotans to stay at home while outlining critical infrastructure. The new order begins Friday, March 27th at 11:59 pm and extends through April 10th.

Minnesota residents must stay home (shelter-in-place) unless they meet guidelines set in the U. S. Department of Homeland Security’s CyberSecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA). These guidelines allow businesses to engage in work related activities as essential activities. The Construction industry falls under the CISA guidelines and attorneys who work with CAM members agree the order allows exterior specialty contractors to continue working. Activities and Critical Sector work for the construction industry are as follows:

Article 6. Section G. Public Works. This category is limited to public works workers listed in the CISA Guidance, in addition to construction material suppliers and workers providing services necessary to maintain construction material sources.

Article 6. Section I. ii. Other community-based government operations and essential functions. This category is limited to the other community-based and government essential functions listed in the CISA Guidance, in addition to workers who support the following functions and services: Housing, shelter, and homelessness-prevention staff of state and local agencies and organizations responsible for ensuring safe and stable housing, including workers from state and local agencies and organizations with responsibility for ensuring safe and stable housing; shelter outreach or drop-in center programs; financing affordable housing; and administering rent subsidies, homeless interventions, operating supports, and similar supports. This includes workers necessary to provide repairs, maintenance, and operations support to residential dwellings.

And, Article 6. Section X. Construction and critical trades. This category includes workers in the skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers, HVAC and elevator technicians, and other related construction of all kind.

Since the Governor put out Executive Order 20-20 there has been a lot of confusion with what parts of the construction sector understanding if they are essential due to a document on the Minnesota Department of Employee and Economic Development (DEED) webpage. DEED has updated its website to assist Minnesotans in following the guidelines for essential workers. The takeaway from the website is follow guidelines set forth in CISA and the Governor’s Executive Order 20-20.

Lisa Frenette
CAM Lobbyist

2020-03-26T12:21:06-05:00

“Shelter In Place” Executive Order Exteded to April 10th

Governor Walz held a press conference today. He has extended the “shelter-in-place” directive until April 10th. The Governor has taken the position that businesses falling under the CyberSecurity and Infrastructure Agency of the U. S. Homeland and Security Agency will continue to deemed “essential workers.”

PLEASE continue to practice guidelines developed by the CDC.

Governor Walz Issues Stay at Home Order for Minnesotans

Executive order directs Minnesotans to limit movement to slow the spread of COVID-19

[ST. PAUL, MN] – To slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state, Governor Tim Walz today signed Executive Order 20-20 directing Minnesotans to stay at home and limit movements outside of their home beyond essential needs. This order takes effect at 11:59pm on Friday, March 27 and ends at 5:00pm on Friday, April 10.

“We must take bold action to save the lives of Minnesotans,” said Governor Walz. “Having served as a Command Sergeant Major in the Army National Guard, I know the importance of having a plan. While the virus will still be here when this order ends, this action will slow the spread of COVID-19 and give Minnesota time to ready for battle.”

Modeling released today by the Minnesota Department of Health and University of Minnesota predicts that more than 70,000 Minnesotans could die from COVID-19 if we take no action. The Governor’s two-week order to stay home is forecasted to significantly slow the spread of COVID-19 and allow the state time to make key preparations for the pandemic. These preparations include building hospital capacity, increasing access to life-saving equipment like ventilators, increasing testing, planning for how to care for vulnerable populations, and assessing public health data to determine which community mitigation strategies are most effective.

“We will work with our world-renowned health care sector, cutting-edge manufacturers, innovative business community, and strong-spirited Minnesotans across the state to tackle this virus head on,” Governor Walz continued. “These are trying times. But we are Minnesotans. We see challenges—and we tackle them. No matter how daunting the challenge; no matter how dark the times; Minnesota has always risen up—by coming together. If we unite as One Minnesota, we will save lives.”

Minnesotans may leave their residences only to perform any of the following activities, and while doing so, they should practice social distancing:

• Health and safety activities, such as obtaining emergency services or medical supplies
• Outdoor activities, such as walking, hiking, running, biking, hunting, or fishing
• Necessary Supplies and Services, such as getting groceries, gasoline, or carry-out
• Essential and interstate travel, such as returning to a home from outside this state
• Care of others, such as caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household
• Displacement, such as moving between emergency shelters if you are without a home
• Relocation to ensure safety, such as relocating to a different location if your home has been unsafe due to domestic violence, sanitation, or essential operations reasons
• Tribal activities and lands, such as activities by members within the boundaries of their tribal reservation

“Our top priority is the health and safety of Minnesotans,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “As the mom of a first-grader and the daughter of a parent with underlying health conditions, I know that the coming weeks will be difficult for many Minnesota families, but social distancing is the most important action we can take as a community to limit the spread of COVID-19 and care for each other.”

“Public health and health care workers around the state are working incredibly hard to protect Minnesotans from this outbreak, and we need all Minnesotans to do their part to slow the spread,” Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “These new measures will buy us much-needed time to secure additional resources and line up additional protections for our most vulnerable Minnesotans.”

Workers who work in critical sectors during this time are exempt from the stay at home order. These exemptions are based on federal guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with some Minnesota-specific additions. This includes, but is not limited to, jobs in:
• Healthcare and public health;
• Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders;
• Emergency shelters, congregate living facilities, drop-in centers;
• Child care;
• Food and agriculture;
• News media;
• Energy;
• Water and wastewater; and
• Critical manufacturing

Construction and critical trades. This category includes workers in the skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers, HVAC and elevator technicians, and other related construction of all kind. This category also includes exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental
properties, moving and relocation services, security staff, operating engineers, and all other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of homes and residences and the Critical Sectors listed in this Executive Order.

The Governor also today issued executive orders extending the closure of bars, restaurants, and other public accommodations set forth in Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-08 until May 1, 2020 at 5:00 pm and authorizing the Commissioner of Education to implement a Distance Learning Period for Minnesota’s students beginning on March 30 through May 4, 2020.

The Governor’s Executive Orders will have the full force and effect of law upon approval by the Executive Council.

Updates on the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota are available here. Frequently asked questions are available here.

2020-03-25T15:24:40-05:00

Executive Order For Non-Hospital Entities

Governor Walz has issued an Executive Order requiring all non-hospital entities to conduct an inventory on any and all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including but not limited to masks, ventilators, and respirators that will be needed to help hospitals during the COVID-19 crisis. This inventory must be donated or kept in reserve at your place of business if you are in possession of the equipment. Please refer to the attached Executive Order for more information. If you have any of these supplies, you MUST submit your inventory by following the attached link https://mn.gov/ppe.

2020-03-25T14:51:27-05:00

CAM Letter To The Governor Regarding “Essential Business”

March 23, 2020

To: Governor Tim Walz
Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan

The Contractors Association of Minnesota (CAM) is a statewide organization with over 100
contractors representing exterior specialty construction who perform roofing, exterior siding, and
windows as well as representing the remodeling industry.

Thank you for quick response to efforts that ensure the health and safety of Minnesotans during the
COVID- 19 pandemic.

CAM understands the need to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the possible need for a
“shelter-in-place” executive order. As states throughout the country are making the decision to
require people to “shelter-in- place”, they are relying on the federal government to offer
direction. Last week, the U. S Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency
(CISA) issued guidance identifying “critical infrastructure” industries that should remain
open. The construction industry was highlighted as a critical industry. California, Ohio
and other states that have issued “shelter-in-place” executive orders have used the CISA guidance,
which also includes housing construction.

CAM plays an important role in housing construction. As we move into the storm season, CAM members
are at the ready to assist consumers by performing vital projects when there are storm occurrences
that puts homeowners’ health and safety at risk. People still have needs from last
year’s storms and any upcoming storms this season to maintain their homes.

With regard to the safety of our workers, we have taken precautionary measures by
working with the Department of Labor and Industry on worker protections. Posted on the CAM
website, you will find DOLI COVID-19 resources for the constructions as well as guidelines
for worker safety from the Center for Disease Control. We have also engage in emailing
our member companies of the proper protocol for keeping their workers safe.

CAM appreciates the difficulty you will have in any decision making on “shelter-in-place” executive
orders. We are a vital part of the construction industry that does and will continue to “keep the
lights on.”

Thank you for your consideration in requiring construction as an essential service during these
difficult times. Sincerely,

Tracy Dahlin
Contractors Association of Minnesota – Chairperson

Iron River Construction

2020-03-23T16:52:45-05:00

Worker Protections Related To COVID-19

Employees are protected by a number of state and federal laws. These protections and employers’ legal obligations are discussed in more detail below. Further updates and guidance for Minnesotans about COVID-19 is available at www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html.

Use of sick leave

If your employer allows you to take time off for your own illness, your employer must also allow you to take time off to care for an ill minor child, adult child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent or stepparent. Your employer must allow you to use your sick time in the same manner as the employer would allow you to use the leave for yourself. Under current law, this provision may not apply to all employees and all employers.
Contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) at 651-284-5075, 800-342-5354 or dli.laborstandards@state.mn.us with questions.
The cities of Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul all have sick and safe time ordinances that require employers to offer paid time off when employees are sick:

•Duluth sick and safe time leave;
•Minneapolis sick and safe time leave; and
•St. Paul sick and safe time leave.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under the federal FMLA, covered employers must provide employees job-protected, unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons, which may include COVID-19 where complications arise. Employees on FMLA leave are entitled to the continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms as existed before they took FMLA leave.
Call the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, at 866-487-9243 with questions or see U.S. DOL’s COVID-19 FMLA guidance.

Employers cannot discriminate

The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) protects employees from discrimination on the basis of disability, race, national origin, age and other protected classes. Individuals with disabilities have the right to request “reasonable accommodations” from employers that are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or the MHRA.

If you have a disability that affects your risk for contracting COVID-19 or being harmed if you do contract the virus, you have the right to request a reasonable accommodation from your employer. For example, employees with disabilities that put them at high-risk for complications related to COVID-19 may request telework or paid/sick/unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation to reduce their chances of infection during a pandemic.

Employers may ask employees if they are experiencing influenza-like symptoms, such as fever or chills, and a cough or sore throat. Employers must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with state and federal law.
During a pandemic, employers may not ask employees who do not have known or apparent influenza symptoms whether they have a medical condition the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says could make them vulnerable to influenza complications. Under no circumstances may an employer make decisions based on stereotypes or bias.
If employees voluntarily disclose to their employer that they have a medical condition or a disability that places them at higher risk of COVID-19 complications, the employer must keep this information confidential.

Employers may not assume employees with known medical conditions or disabilities are at heightened risk of complications from COVID-19. For more information about pandemic preparedness in the workplace and relevant legal requirement for employers, visit www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/wysk/wysk_ada_rehabilitaion_act_coronavirus.cfm.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is the state’s civil rights enforcement agency and enforces the MHRA. If you believe you have been discriminated against, contact the department at 651-539-1133, 800-6573704 or info.mdhr@state.mn.us or fill out a consultation inquiry form at mn.gov/mdhr/intake/consultationinquiryform.

Unemployment insurance benefits

If you lose your job or had your hours greatly reduced, you should apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. The application process allows you to tell the UI program why you are not working. To get more information about Unemployment Insurance or to apply for benefits, visit www.uimn.org.
Gov. Tim Walz issued a March 16, 2020, executive order to better enable workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to access unemployment benefits. For more information about this executive order and some frequently asked questions and answers, visit www.uimn.org/applicants/needtoknow/news-updates/covid19.jsp.

Protections for workers who contract or have been exposed to COVID-19

Under a state health law, if you have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19, and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommends that you stay home (isolate or quarantine yourself), your employer may not discharge, discipline or penalize you for missing work. This protection also applies if you need to care for a minor or adult family member for whom MDH recommends isolation or quarantine. (The adult family member must
have a disability or be a vulnerable adult.) This employment protection is available for 21 workdays. For more information, call the number MDH will give you with its recommendation.

Workers’ compensation

If you contract a disease that arises out of and in the course of your employment, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including payment of wage loss and medical benefits. However, you must show that you contracted the disease due to your employment.
If an emergency responder contracts an infectious or communicable disease that they are exposed to in the course of employment outside of a hospital, the disease is presumed to be an occupational disease due to the nature of their employment.

If you are not ill, but must stay home from work because you were exposed to the virus, you are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under current law.
Every case is fact specific. Call the Department of Labor and Industry at 800-342-5354 (press 3) if you have a question about whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Final wages

If your employment ends and your former employer has not paid you your final wages, there are several steps you can take to ensure you are paid all the wages you are due. To learn what steps you can take to receive your final wages, visit the making a demand for final wages page.
Changes to working conditions

Overtime mandates

If employers schedule and require employees to work overtime hours, then they must pay any overtime that is earned under either state or federal law. State law provides one exception to required overtime for nurses. Other employees may be covered by collective bargaining agreements that contain provisions allowing employees to opt out of overtime hours.
Work location changes

Employers are required to track, record and pay for all hours of work performed by employees and may, in certain circumstances, be required to reimburse employees for work-related expenses. These expenses may not be required to be reimbursed until the end of employment.
Hours worked; hours paid

Salaried exempt workers

Under limited situations when a business decides to cut business hours, the employer can reduce the salary of an exempt worker. If a salaried exempt worker misses a full day of work the employer may deduct a proportional amount of their salary. This deduction can be only be made if the employee does not complete any work activities during that day.
Volunteering

Unpaid volunteer work may be performed for nonprofit organizations or government agencies. For-profit employers are required to pay the minimum wage and overtime, among other labor standards’ requirements, for those completing work activities.

Workplace safety and health

To get more information about workplace safety or health related to COVID-19, visit www.dli.mn.gov/business/workplace-safety-and-health/mnosha-compliance-novel-coronavirus-covid-19.

Your employer may not retaliate against you for reporting health and safety concerns at work. If you believe your employer retaliated against you, you may file a complaint with Minnesota OSHA within 30 days of the adverse employment action.

Contact Minnesota OSHA Compliance at osha.compliance@state.mn.us, 651-284-5050 or 877-470-6742 with questions.

2020-03-23T16:06:31-05:00

Covid-19 Updates Effecting MN Contractors

Navigating through the Coronavirus has become a daunting process and CAM is here to help you understand how this may affect your business with the building permits process.

First, please ensure that you are following the Center for Disease Controls (CDC) precautionary measures when keeping your business open and your employees safe.  You can find these measures here.  It will give you the best instructions on steps to prevent the illness, what to do if you or an employee becomes sick and what you can do to keep your community safe.

To date, Governor Walz has not outlined an executive order for handling the Coronavirus with the construction industry.  It is important when considering a project where your employees will be working in close proximity that you follow guidelines outlined by the CDC including keeping everyone at least 6 feet away from each other and having hand sanitizer for employees at the worksite. Governor Walz has also extended unemployment benefits for employees affected by the Cornonavirus.  You can find more information here.  There is no guarantee that an employee will be able to draw unemployment benefits.   It is recommended that your business start making plans on how an employee who contracts the virus will be paid.  PLEASE SEE FURTHER COMMUNICATION FROM GOVERNOR WALZ BELOW.

You will find a press release below from the Department of Labor and Industry on obtaining permits and inspections.  The League of Minnesota Cities has also proffered guidelines for cities on how to maintain essential services. You will find a link to the League’s suggestions in the communication below. Please note that these are only suggestions, municipalities are allowed to make their own guidelines. Housing First has also been compiling a list of cities and how they are providing timely permits and inspections  You can find a list of the cities and what they are doing here.

With all of this said, it is important to maintain normal business as usual as possible by following the recommendation of the CDC.

Please contact Lisa Frenette at frenettela@gmail.com for further questions.

Help for contractors with obtaining municipal construction inspections

March 18, 2020

The department is communicating with the construction industry and cities, counties and building officials about the need to provide timely construction inspections.

If one of your members encounters a problem obtaining a municipal inspection, we first recommend trying to resolve it with the designated building official or other municipal administrator responsible for providing services. If the building official or municipality  cannot be reached, a staff member from our Enforcement Unit is available for assistance and consultation.

Contact us

Resources

 

Scott McLellan
State Building Official
Construction Codes and Licensing Division
Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

 

March 18, 2020

Below is an update on the COVID-19 pandemic as it pertains to Minnesota as of 7:15 PM on 3/18/2020.

By the numbers

Updates from the Governor

Governor Tim Walz held a media briefing today to provide an update on Minnesota’s response to COVID-19. He announced that businesses will have a one month interest and penalty-free grace period on the deadline to file sales taxes, which will help alleviate financial strain businesses are facing from COVID-19.

The announcement follows reports that COVID-19 cases rose by 17 from yesterday, to 77 confirmed cases in 16 counties. Overall, the age range of cases is 17 to 71 years, with a median age of 50.

He also highlighted three executive orders he’s signed in recent days, which will:

  • Protect residents and staff in Veterans Homes by restricting all visitors and non-essential personnel except for end of life care.
  • Exempt emergency relief efforts from certain regulations that restrict their ability to provide assistance, including limits on weight and hours of service. The Order allows for the efficient movement of essential supplies, including food, medial supplies and household items.
  • Provide paid leave for all state employees who are unable to work because of COVID-19.

Clarification on Business Closures 

As a reminder, on Monday Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-04 to order the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars to dine-in customers. He also ordered the temporary closure of other places of public accommodation and amusement, including theaters, museums, fitness centers, and community clubs. Today, he issued a clarification which extends the order to apply to salons, barbershops, and other similar establishments.

“As we move quickly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are constantly learning and adjusting to feedback from health experts, business owners, and workers,” said Governor Walz. “The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to implement social distancing, and this executive order provides clarification on how we can better implement these community mitigation strategies.”

Grand Princess Update 

Finally, Governor Walz today announced that 32 Minnesotans who had been quarantined after leaving the Grand Princess cruise ship have now returned home.

Up-to-date guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health on recommended community mitigation strategies can be found here.

Everyone can work to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Cover your cough.
  • Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.

Resources

Coverage

2020-03-23T15:34:02-05:00

CAM Postpones 12th Annual Spring Conference Indefinitely

Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, CAM will be postponing our 12th Annual CAM Spring Conference until further notice. As the CDC along with State and Federal Governments continue to make almost daily changes to their recommendations as to the size of gatherings and the length of time to allow before resuming normal operations, we will continue to monitor the situation and decide when or if our Spring Conference can be held this season. We wish everyone good health during these uncertain times and thanks to all for their support of CAM.

2020-03-23T15:34:50-05:00

CAM Initiated Legislation – Update 3/4/20

HF 2696/SF 2660 (Mahoney/Howe) – Insurance proceeds checks prompt signature
At this point, we are stalled. The large banks are opposed due to Fannie and Freddie requirements. I am continuing to talk with them about avenues we can take to ensure more prompt payments. I spoke with the insurance companies. They agree that the payments should be made promptly but won’t advocate for or against the issue.

Several bills have popped up this session that are of interest to CAM

HF 2389/SF 2339 (Sundin/Howe) -Contractor Recovery Fund – this bill has three components

a) Use the CRF for a consumer awareness campaign highlighting the importance of hiring licensed builders
b) Use the CRF to development and implementation of continuing education related to financial management of licensed residential contractors
c) Use the CRF for a research project for code administration, builder licensure and subcontractor registration.

CAM should always resist allowing the CRF for anything but what it has been designated for which is assisting homeowners who have hired bad licensed contractors. I think we could get behind this bill if the amount of money that DOLI could use was specified. As of now, it is open funding.

HF 2467/SF 2421 (Sundin/Rarick) – Contractor Recovery Fund
Another bad solar installer actor has left home owners without the product they paid for. This bill would allow these homeowners to recoup their losses through the CRF. The issue at stake is the solar installers are not licensed and they haven’t paid into the CRF. CAM has spoken with the authors of the legislation opposing raiding the CRF. Solar installers should become licensed and pay into the CRF before any funds are taken to assist the homeowners.

Tracy was set to testify again this bill but the hearing was canceled. Thanks Tracy!

The following are bills I am monitoring for CAM. CAM and BAM are closely following them to see how they affect members. They were developed by BATC to address the rising costs of housing through permits. As of now, none of them have House companions.

SF 3793 – Building permit fees must be based on a cost per square foot (support)

SF 3795 – Expands municipalities annual reporting of costs associated with conducting inspections. (support)

SF 3796 – Prohibits a city from designating a building official or inspector unless it is specifically designated in a municipal ordinance (not support; unless I hear otherwise, I don’t think it is necessary to go agains the building officials since we have been developing a relationship with them.)

HF 3785/SF 3791 (Fisher/Koran) – excludes residential homes from following window safety fall requirements. (monitor) No children have fallen out of windows in the past few years but some years ago we had children falling out of windows either injuring or killing themselves. Has any one had issues with the requirements with the window fall prevention regulations when you install new windows?

2020-03-12T11:59:12-05:00

CAM Road Show – Oakdale – March 3rd, 2020

We had another great turnout yesterday in Oakdale and by far our most interactive group of attendees. Thanks again to Jeff Woltjen with Smith, Jadin, Johnson for covering for Tim. Jeff did a great job with a fully engaged crowd. Also thank you to Sean Stevens with Carlton Insurance Agency who did a very nice job of educating our attendees and answering important questions that directly affected their business.

2020-03-04T10:58:28-06:00