News Categories: General News

06 Nov
By: MAT Staff 0

MATIT Workers’ Comp Invoices & Audit Forms mailed early

Please be watching for your envelope that looks like the one below.  MATIT is sending out the Workers’ Compensation Invoices and Audit forms on Friday November 6th, 2020.  Please make sure that if your clerk has not received it by November 20th to contact our office.

Thank you

 

Minnesota Association of Townships Insurance and Bond Trust

P.O. Box 415

805 Central Ave E

St. Michael Mn 55376

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30 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

Notice: Changes to Receiving Absentee Ballots

Rules related to absentee ballots have changed due to a decision from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued Thursday, Nov. 29. In summary, the rule is: Absentee ballots must be received on election day, by 3 pm for in-person returns, and 8 pm for mailed-in returns. Absentee ballots received later than the listed deadlines must be identified, separated, segregated, and otherwise maintained and preserved, so that the ballots can be excluded from the final totals.

Also based on this ruling, the town board of canvass returns to the original meeting dates, which means a town board of canvass must meet between 3 and 7 days after the election (November 6-13).

In August 2020, a Minnesota State Court issued an order that extended the time in which absentee ballots could be received and counted. The State Court ordered that absentee ballots completed on or before Election Day, could be received and processed up to seven days after the election. See LaRose v. Simon, A20-1040 (Minn. Aug. 18, 2020). However, the State Court order was challenged in Federal court, which led the Federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the State Court order on the time-period to count absentee ballots Carson v. Simon, No. 20-3139 (8th Cir. Oct. 29, 2020. The Federal Court held that the State Court did not have authority to extend the time for counting absentee ballots because the Legislature provided a statute on the issue.

The segregated ballots will be held until further instructions are issued by the Secretary of State’s Office. The current guidance on handling of absentee ballots is found here: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/election-administration-campaigns/election-administration/absenteemail-ballot-instructions/ .

The Legislature had added one extra day to count ballots in, allowing for a total of two days after the election to count ballots. This was provided by the Legislature and Governor in Session Law, 2020 Laws 77, § 1, subdivision 2(3). The Federal Court left that law intact, so election judges have until November 5 to count ballots that were received on-time.

As of Friday, October 30, 2020, its is too late for absentee ballots placed in the mail to arrive on time and be counted. Voters who have placed an absentee ballot in the mail may track it here: https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/AbsenteeBallotStatus.aspx .

If a voter’s ballot is not received by election day, the voter may vote in-person absentee at an early voting location, or may vote in-person on election day at their local polling place, the county election office, or other location authorized to administer voting for that voter.

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29 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

Notice: Voter Assistance Law Update

Following a decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court on Oct. 28, 2020, the rules related to voter assistance have again changed. In summary, the new rule is this: Election judges should allow a voter to receive help in marking his or her ballot from any person the voter chooses, but the helper cannot be the voter’s employer, and agent or employee of the voter’s employer, or an officer or agent of the voter’s labor union. There is no limit on the number of voters a person may assist in marking a ballot. However, a person may help only up to three people in returning an absentee ballot.

In the recent case, DSCC v. Republican Party of Minnesota, A20-1017 (Minn. Oct. 28, 2020), the Minnesota Supreme Court considered whether two Minnesota statutes, Minn. Stat. § 204C.15, subd. 1, and 203B.08, subd. 1, were valid based on alleged inconsistencies with Federal election laws. The two statutes at issue limit the number of voters an individual may assist in voting. In August 2020, a Minnesota District Court Judge issued a temporary injunction prohibiting enforcement of those two Minnesota laws because the Judge believed the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in their cases.

One of the statutes, Minn. Stat. § 204C.15, subd. 1, says in relevant part, “The person who assists the voter shall, unaccompanied by an election judge, retire with that voter to a booth and mark the ballot as directed by the voter. No person who assists another voter as provided in the preceding sentence shall mark the ballots of more than three voters at one election.” This statute indicates that an individual, other than an election judge, may help up to three people in marking their ballots during an election. Election judges were and continue to be allowed to assist voters in marking their ballots upon the voter’s request.

The Minnesota Supreme Court held this statute is probably inconsistent with Federal election law and should not be enforced. Therefore, election judges must allow all voters to receive help in marking their ballot from any person other than the voter’s employer, an agent of the employer, or an agent of the voter’s labor union.

The second statute, Minn. Stat. § 203B.08, subd. 1, says in relevant part, “An agent may deliver or mail the return envelopes of not more than three voters in any election.” This statute allowed an individual to help up to three people in marking or returning their absentee ballots in an election.

The Minnesota Supreme Court held this statute is probably consistent with Federal election law and should be enforced. The Supreme Court vacated the temporary injunction on this part, so election judges should enforce the prohibitions of Minn. Stat. § 203B.08, subd. 1. A person may assist up to three people in returning absentee ballots.

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26 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

2020 Bonding Bill Local Road Improvement Program Information

The following a message from Marc Briese, the programs engineer for MnDOT’s State Aid for Local Transportation. The message is meant to notify townships about the Local Road Improvement Program which provides money to townships and other local governments to improve town roads. This notification provides towns with information on how to enter into the program.

 

As most of you probably know, the House passed a bonding bill on Wednesday, October 14 and the Senate followed suit the following day on Thursday.  And I’m happy to report that the Governor signed the bill into law on Wednesday, October 21, 2020!

The bill provides substantial funding for local projects, including $75 million in Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) funds for a competitive solicitation, $30 million for the Local Bridge Replacement Program (LBRP), and $3 million for the Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS). It also includes more than $165 million in earmarks to more than 25 local road and bridge projects across the state. Below is a brief summary of each category of funding along with anticipated timelines.

Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP)

  • The bonding bill that was signed into law includes $75 million for the competitive LRIP program. I will be working with the LRIP advisory committee over the next several months on developing a solicitation, accepting applications, and selecting projects to be funded.  I have received commitments from most members of the LRIP advisory committee, but still have a couple spots that need to be finalized.  I anticipate releasing a solicitation in 2-3 months, at which time I will inform the counties, cities, and townships.

    The previous 2018 solicitation had a $1 million grant cap for counties and state aid cities and a $750,000 cap for townships and non-state aid cities.  We will again have a grant cap for this solicitation, though it may not be at the same dollar amounts, so applicants may need to identify additional matching funds from their state aid accounts or other sources. Finally, I would remind potential applicants that we once again will require counties to sponsor projects in townships and non-state aid cities. So townships and small cities should be in contact with their county engineer on potential applications.

    See the LRIP Program webpage and LRIP PowerPoint for more information on LRIP.”

  • The bonding bill includes another ~$166 million in earmarked LRIP and LBRP projects.  I plan to send a “selection letter” to each earmark recipient with more information on suggested next steps, info on demonstration of full funding to MMB, and considerations and timing for accessing the funds and executing grant agreements. I plan to send the letters in the next couple weeks.

Local Bridge Replacement Program (LBRP)

  • The bonding bill includes $30 million for LBRP. When combined with the MVLST that we received in August, we will have about $41.2 million.  The waiting list contains more requests than that, so we may not be able to fund all of those projects.  Patti Loken is working on prioritizing projects for funding now, and will be in touch with DSAEs and local agencies in the next several weeks.

    See the LBRP Program webpage and LBRP PowerPoint for more information on LBRP.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS)

  • The bonding bill includes $3 million for SRTS infrastructure projects.  The State Aid Programs section will work cooperatively with the MnDOT Safe Routes to School Coordinator from the Office of Transit and Active Transportation to develop a solicitation. More information will be forthcoming in the weeks and months to come.

    See the SRTS Program webpage and SRTS PowerPoint for more information on the SRTS program.

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23 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

Training on CARES Act Reporting – Recording & Slides

We know there are many questions about CARES Act reporting. MAT is offering an additional training by leaders of the state’s department of Minnesota Management and Budget.

A Zoom webinar with a presentation along with questions/answer session occurred on Friday, October 23rd.  Please use the links below to view the webinar and/or download the presentation.

Friday, October 23 at 2 PM

Click to view the webinar
Passcode: 3$F&DwWE

Click here to view or download the slide presentation

 

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12 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

CARES Act Resources & Frequently Asked Questions

On June 25th, 2020, Governor Walz announced a plan to distribute $853 million in federal funding to Minnesota communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was authorized by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Local governments can use the funding to support services and grants to businesses, hospitals, and individuals impacted by the pandemic. The specific aid amounts for each township, based on 2018 population, can be found here.

In order to receive these funds, towns should visit the Minnesota Department of Revenue special page with more information and instructions of how to apply for the funding here. But to summarize, towns under 5,000 residents will receive $25 per resident, according to data as recent as 2018. Towns with over 200 residents will receive their funds directly from the State and should work to prevent those funds from intermingling with other township fund, examples on how to do so can be found in the CARES Act FAQ section. Towns with under 200 residents still apply for the CARES Act funds, but the county holds the funds and the town must work with the county to be reimbursed for costs covered under the CARES Act.

In general, the CARES Act assistance can only be used to cover expenses that:

  1. are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19);
  2. were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and
  3. were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.


CARES Act FAQ:
There a several frequently asked questions that have arisen, two documents exist to aid towns in addressing these costs:

Remember that the town needs a SWIFT ID and DUNS number. If not known by the town can find out the SWIFT ID number by emailing EFTHelpline.MMB@state.mn.us. The town can apply for a DUNS or SAMS number by visiting this page, and more information can be found in the state CRF distribution training slideshow found below. To obtain a DUNS number, follow this link and then register here.

Costs Covered with the CARES Act Funds:
As towns have started to receive CARES Act funds, they have also began spending some of these funds. Below are some examples of costs that towns have covered with the CARES Act, remember that each of these have satisfied all three factors that are required by the CARES Act to spend these funds. A resolution, resolving to spend CARES Act funds can be found here.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees, officers, and town meeting attendees:
  • Increased Election costs, such as, increased pay for election judges, PPE, Plexiglas shields, increased number of voting booths, etc:
  • American with Disabilities Act compliant handicap accesses for different buildings, or changed access routes to aid in social distancing:
  • Automatic amenities to reduce the number of frequently touched objects, these amenities include doors, bathroom sinks, soap dispensers, hand sanitizer dispensers, toilets, etc:
  • Audio/Visual displays for meetings to help reduce need to pass paper or materials, or to comply with the Open Meeting Law:
  • Increased payroll expenses such as increased janitorial services or costs related to researching how to mitigate the spread and properly conduct the township through COVID-19:
  • Broadband infrastructure or hotspots that can be deployed this year, and was not already budgeted for as of March 27th 2020:
  • Computers or tablets for remote work and access or meeting participation:
  • Telephone or video meeting service costs:
  • Donations to food shelves or other social support programs:
  • Grant program to local businesses or individuals. Since grants are not commonly given by towns, it is strongly recommended that the town works with their private town attorney or in cooperation with the county that the town is located in, if such a program is established, in building this system:

Towns may also transfer excess funds to other local governments, a sample resolution doing so can be found here.

Help America Vote Act CARES Act Grant:
The state has also received funds specifically for elections, which was received by the Secretary of State, two primary qualifications must be met for a State to utilize these funds. First, distributions made to states include a 20% matching requirement by a State receiving the funds, which means that a State, receiving these funds must also spend 20% of the HAVA money used to secure the HAVA Grant. Second, HAVA requires ‘projects’ to exist for at least two years to receive the funds. However, the CARES act requires all money to be used or planned to be used by the end of 2020. To solve this potential contradiction, the extra money from HAVA is only used for the 2020 elections, and the subsequent care of materials, such as ballots.

These funds are to be distributed by the Secretary of State through the counties, so long counties agree to a “fair, equitable, and mutually agreeable” distribution plan with the municipalities within the county. So, if the town would like to learn how to apply these funds to their election, please reach out to the county to get some clarification. More information on the HAVA Cares Act Grant can be found here.

CTAS Reporting:
The linked document contains the reporting requirements in order to report these funds on CTAS.

CARES Act Reporting:
Towns over 200 residents that receive CARES Act funds must complete periodic reports (The report form can be found here). Reports have been due 7 business days after the end of the month (e.g., August 11th and September 9th, October 9th, and November 10th). The final report is due 7 business days from November 15th (November 24th). If you received distributions prior to the end of August, you must report for August and the months prior, if you received distributions after, there is no need to complete this first report. You may review the instructions and report to the MMB and COVID-19 accountability office here.

August 25 CARES ACT Webinar: For information regarding this form, please watch/listen to the August 25th webinar found here.

ZOOM CARES Act Teleconference Calls:
On July 8th, a Zoom conference call with leaders at the MN Department of Revenue to explain the application process and answer questions.

Listen to the CARES Act Information Zoom Teleconference & Presentation Here:
Password:   8q&4m^P6
Click to view PowerPoint used in teleconference: State CRF Distribution Training

On August 4th, a second Zoom conference call with Minnesota Management and Budget experts to discuss the procedures and take questions.

Listen/View the August 4, 2020 CARES Act Information Zoom Teleconference
Password:     cv7%TNG?
Click to view PowerPoint used in Aug 4 Zoom teleconference: COVID-19 Funding Reporting Presentation (Aug 4 Call)

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12 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

Please Take Survey to Shape MN Climate Control Priorities

Climate change is not in the distant future – it’s happening here and now. In Minnesota, extreme weather events threaten agriculture, the environment and many of our most cherished natural and cultural resources. But by working collaboratively, we can build resilient communities and mitigate risks posed by climate change. The state of Minnesota is committed to making climate resiliency and mitigation efforts a priority in both the immediate and long-term future. Gov. Walz, through Executive Order 19-37, established a Climate Change Subcabinet, which I serve on, to bring renewed focus to finding effective climate policy solutions and strategies.

Increasingly, BWSR programs will include climate considerations that recognize the climate benefits our programs already provide while striving to make climate resiliency a priority for the agency and the state.

Last week, state agencies including BWSR celebrated Minnesota Climate Week. A new interagency website about climate change, Our Minnesota Climate, was launched simultaneously to raise public awareness around climate issues. Please consider taking this brief survey that will be used to help shape the Climate Change Subcabinet’s priorities and approach. We want to hear which issues affect you the most and how you’d like to be involved in this important work. As local leaders, your input is highly valuable to this process.

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02 Sep
By: MAT Staff 0

Presidential Executive Order Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations

On August 8th, President Trump issued an executive order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order states that starting September 1st,  a deferral of the 6.2% social security tax obligation “shall be made available to any employee … whose wages or compensation … during any bi-weekly pay period generally is less than $4,000” through December 31st, 2020. The deferral is a temporary relief from paying the tax, but under current law, the employee must eventually pay the deferred tax obligation. The order discusses the possibility of the federal government forgiving the tax, but that would require an act of Congress and amounts to speculation or hope on the part of the President.

The Department of Treasury guidance on the tax deferral indicates the deferred tax must be paid back by April 30th, 2021. Townships must offer their employees the option to defer the social security tax obligation, but the town should inform the employee that under current law the township must collect double the amount of social security tax withheld between January 1st, 2021, to April 30th, 2021, to pay back the deferment.

Using the median household income in the U.S. ($64,000 gross income), over the deferment period, this would defer $1,220 of tax or $152 per pay period until December 31, 2020.

The text for the executive order can be found here.

The text of guidance from the Department of Treasury can be found here.

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31 Aug
By: MAT Staff 0

Mower & Rice Counties Invited to Virtual Ash Borer Meeting

Mower and Rice County Residents Invited to Virtual Informational Meeting Concerning Emerald Ash Borer

Public can also weigh in on adoption of formal quarantines of the two counties

St. Paul, MN: Residents of Mower and Rice counties are invited to a virtual informational meeting on Thursday, September 17 regarding the discovery of emerald ash borer (EAB) in the two counties.

On March 20, 2020, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) confirmed an EAB infestation in an ash tree in the city of Faribault in Rice County. EAB was then confirmed on April 2 near Racine in Mower County. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person meetings were not held.

Those attending the upcoming virtual meeting will have an opportunity to learn more about EAB, local options to deal with the insect, and hear how residents and tree care professionals can limit the spread of the bug. Experts from the MDA will give a brief presentation followed by a question-and-answer session.

Emerald Ash Borer Virtual Informational Meeting
Thursday, September 17, 2020
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Pre-register at www.mda.state.mn.us/eab

The public will also have an opportunity to provide input on the proposal to add Mower and Rice counties to the state formal quarantine. Emergency quarantines were placed on the two counties when EAB was discovered. The MDA will take comments on the proposed formal quarantines through October 1 and recommends adopting the quarantines on October 15 The quarantines limit the movement of ash trees and limbs and hardwood firewood out of each county. The proposed quarantine language can be found at www.mda.state.mn.us/eab.

Comments can be made during the virtual informational meeting or by contacting:

Kimberly Thielen Cremers
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
625 Robert Street North St. Paul, MN 55155
kimberly.tcremers@state.mn.us
Fax: 651-201-6108

Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk. Minnesota is highly susceptible to the destruction caused by this invasive insect. The state has approximately one billion ash trees, the most of any state in the nation. The insect is now confirmed in 23 of the state’s 87 counties. For more information on emerald ash borer, visit the MDA website.

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26 Aug
By: MAT Staff 0

MAT District Director Meeting Recordings and Results

Eleven of the thirteen District Director Meetings are being held via a Zoom webinar/teleconference call.  For those eleven virtual meetings, you can watch and listen to the event below under each District.  District Meetings will be added as they occur.

Handout used at all District Meetings: 2020 District Meeting Handout

District 2

Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Director: Sandy Hooker
No Election Held
Listen to the District 2 Webinar Here
Password: fr$9^Sq^


District 3

Monday, August 10, 2020
Director: Tammy Houle
No Election Held
Listen to the District 3 Webinar Here
Password: D7Ze$#sQ

District 1

Thursday, August 6, 2020
Director: Nate Redalen
New Director Elected: Rex Edge
Meeting was held Live at the Dodge County Fairgrounds

 

District 4

Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Director: Gary Burdorf
No Election Held
Listen to the District 4 Webinar Here
Password: ^rl1@!fd

District 7

Thursday, August 13, 2020
Director: Mike Miller
Election Result: Mike Miller Re-Elected
Listen to the District 7 Webinar Here
Password: yY1@B?am

 

District 6

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Director: Lyle Stai
Election Result: Lyle Stai Re-Elected
Meeting was held LIVE outside at Shooters Bar & Grill

 

District 5

Thursday, August 20, 2020
Director: Jane Youngkrantz
Election Result: Jane Youngkrantz Re-Elected
Listen to the District 5 Webinar Here
Password: mfY=gG3B

 

District 12

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Director: Mel Milender
No Election Held
Listen to the District 12 Webinar Here
Password: baK#!a?0

 

District 10

Thursday, August 27, 2020
Director: Jim Fisher
No Election Held
Listen to the District 10 Webinar Here
Password: 8*k895?L

District 9

Monday, August 17, 2020
Director: Vance Bachmann
No Election Held
Listen to the District 9 Webinar Here
Password: =#0gr$t0

 

District 8

Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Director: Lori Stalker
No Election Held
Listen to the District 8 Webinar Here
Password: y2nw9Vy+

 

District 13

Monday, August 24, 2020
Director: Jill Hall
No Election Held
Listen to the District 13 Webinar Here
Password: =D^$$5Kj

 

District 11

Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Director: Reno Wells
Election Results: Reno Wells Re-Elected
Listen to the District 11 Webinar Here
Password: 3p8BM@2u

 

That’s all folks!

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