Updates from March 2020

These are the updates from MNLA during the month of March, 2020.

DEED Appeals Form, Promoting the Value of Plants

[March 31] | MNLA continues to advocate daily on behalf of the Green Industry with Minnesota officials including Minnesota legislators, the Commissioner of Agriculture, and the Governor’s office directly.

If you would like to TAKE ACTION yourself MNLA provides a link for you to appeal to DEED directly.

President Tim Malooly, CID, CIC, CLIA gives an analysis of the current situation in an email sent March 31: Click here to read President Malooly's email.

Clarification Issued on "Landscaping" by Governor's Office

[March 29] |MNLA received further clarification today after appealing to the Governor's office yesterday regarding the reclassification of "landscaping":

“Landscaping is not generally exempt, unless it is done in service to a critical industry or an emergency need. An example of a critical industry is construction.”

President Tim Malooly, CID, CIC, CLIA gives an analysis of the current situation in an email sent March 29: Click here to read President Malooly's email.


Sudden Change to Critical Business Classifications

[March 28] |This evening MNLA sent an email written by President Tim Malooly, CID, CIC, CLIA to inform members of the current situation in regards to classifying critical businesses in Minnesota. After giving an overview of MNLA's advocacy leading up to today, he explains:

Overnight, unbeknownst to MNLA, the Governor’s office published an updated interpretation of the “Critical Worker” definitions. Page six of the updated official document includes new, surprise information that broadly declared: “Clarification added March 27, 2020: Lawncare and landscaping workers are not exempted”

Malooly outlines the actions MNLA took today to appeal for a revision: Click here to read President Malooly's email.

MNLA Receives Guidance from Governor Regarding Retail Garden Center Sales

[March 27] | The Commissioner of Agriculture has relayed that the Governor offered guidance regarding retail garden center sales during the two week “stay-at-home” order (midnight March 27, 2020 through midnight April 10, 2020):

       “…Workers supporting the sale for delivery only of existing perishable plant stock as of March 27, 2020 are exempt…”
Thoughts for consideration regarding the above-listed statement from the Governor:
  • Retail sales of perishables via delivery; can include curbside
    • Plants
    • Seeds
    • Etc.
  • Wholesale sales for construction or maintenance is exempt and constitutes “essential services” under the Governor’s stay-at-home order (Reference NACIS codes including but not limited to: 4233 "Lumber and Other Construction Materials" and 4249 "Misc. Non-Durable Goods Merchant Wholesalers")

MNLA Submits Request for Garden Center Retail to be Deemed Critical

[March 26] | The Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association requested that retail garden center businesses be permitted to continue physical operation and be listed as a critical industry in the Minnesota Critical Businesses List and EO 20-20. 

NOTE: THIS ITEM CONTAINS OUTDATED INFORMATION. See update here: https://conta.cc/2UJXiBh
Most Green Industry Business May Choose to Continue to Operate During Stay-At-Home Order 

[March 25] | As you may have already heard, Gov. Walz issued an executive order today (EO 20-20) which directs Minnesotans to stay at home beginning on March 27 and lasting through April 10. Based on that announcement, there are three portions of the Executive Order into which MNLA believes green industry businesses fall…

  • Nursery & Greenhouse Growers

From the Governor's order:

Food and agriculture. This category is limited to food and agriculture workers listed in the CISA Guidance, including agricultural equipment repair services. For clarity, and for the purposes of this Executive Order, references to “beverages” include alcoholic beverages. The restrictions on restaurants, bars, and other places of public accommodation adopted in Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-18 remain in effect.”

Growers of nursery, greenhouse and floriculture are listed on the NAICS list compiled by Governor Walz of "essential businesses." (See: NAICS code 1114 "Greenhouse, Nursery, and Floriculture Production" on the Governor's list of critical business.)

  • Landscape and Tree Care

From the Governor's order:

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."

Landscape Maintenance Services, Construction, and Tree Care are listed on the NAICS list compiled by Governor Walz of "essential businesses." (See:  NAICS code 5617 "Services to Buildings and Dwellings" on the Governor's list of critical business.)

Note: MNLA has received express guidance from staff in the Governor's office that Landscape services (subcategory 561730) falls within this category.

  • Garden Centers

From the Governor's order:

Essential Supply Stores. This category is limited to workers at businesses that sell products, tools, materials, or supplies necessary for: (1) the above Critical Sectors to continue their essential operations, (2) for workers to work from home, or (3) for the maintenance of the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of homes or residences.”

Garden Centers are currently listed on the NAICS list compiled by Governor Walz as "non-essential." MNLA will continue to work to clarify and advocate for our garden center members moving forward. (See: NAICS code 4442 "Lawn and Garden Equipment and Supplies Stores" Services to Buildings and Dwellings" on the Governor's list of critical business.)

Note: This is MNLA's current analysis. Please remember that MNLA’s charge is to advocate for its members and to provide clarification of the state laws and directives. Any decision to continue operating is at the sole discretion of the business owner. Remember the goal of the Governor’s directive: to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Please make your business decision based on what is best for your employee's, customer's, and supplier's health. In addition, should you choose to continue operations, MNLA advises strict adherence to MDH and CDC guidance.

MNLA Letter to Governor Tim Walz on Behalf of 'Essential' Green Industry 

[March 25] | As Minnesota's elected leadership considers a "shelter-in-place" order to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, The Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association is working with state leadership to allow essential green industry businesses to continue operation. 

Click here to review the letter.

Wisconsin Governor Announces 'Safe-at-Home' Order, Essential Businesses Defined

[March 24] | Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers released an emergency executive order on March 24, 2020 ordering limited travel, business closures, and other COVID-19 responses in the state, while outlining which businesses would be considered “essential.” While these are new and in need of clarification, they include the below language, which could be interpreted to include greenhouses and landscape services. Please stay tuned for updates and further clarifications on this order. Please note, Minnesota has yet to issue a similar lockdown order.

From the Wisconsin Emergency Order 12 Stay at Home Order:

13. Essential Businesses and Operations. All entities described in this section shall meet Social Distancing Requirements between all individuals on the premises to the extent possible. Essential Businesses and Operations shall, to the greatest extent possible, use technology to avoid meeting in person, including virtual meetings, teleconference, and remote work (i.e., work from home). For the purposes of this Order, Essential Businesses and Operations means Healthcare and Public Health Operations, Human Services Operations, Essential Infrastructure, and Essential Governmental Functions, and the following:

n. Critical trades. Building and Construction Tradesmen and Tradeswomen, and other trades including but not limited to plumbers, electricians, carpenters, laborers, sheet metal, iron workers, masonry, pipe trades, fabricators, finishers, exterminators, pesticide application, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, forestry and arborists, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, and Essential Businesses and Operations.

v. Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries. Manufacturing companies, distributors, and supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services in and for industries such as pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, chemicals and sanitation, waste pickup and disposal, agriculture, food and beverage, transportation, energy, steel and steel products, petroleum and fuel, mining, construction, national defense, communications, and products used by other Essential Governmental Functions and Essential Businesses and Operations.


Minnesota Governor Announces Emergency Loan Program to Help Small Businesses

[March 24] | From self-quarantine for contact with an individual with COVID-19, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced a series of executive orders, including one to help small businesses through small business loans, with some portion of these loans forgivable. This executive order can be seen below, executive order 20-15.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development is developing this program, and intends to have the applications for this loan program available later in the week of March 23. Minnesota small businesses should send questions about this emergency loan program to ELP@state.mn.us.

LINK: DEED Creating Emergency Loan Program for Minnesota Small Businesses [Deed]

LINK: Minnesota Executive Order 20-15

Notes about the program:

  • Up to 50 percent of a loan may be forgiven if the DEED Commissioner approves and the business remains operating in the community at substantially the same levels for two years following loan disbursement.
  • The minimum loan is $2,500 and the maximum is $35,000.
  • No matching contribution is required.
  • Restrictions on how the funds can be used include restricting the refinance of existing debt.

MNLA Launches Members-Only COVID-19 Facebook Group

[March 24] | Both owners and employees of member companies are able to join. We are able to share information together here.

Click here to join.

FREE Webinar, March 25 at 12:00pm CST: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Answering Tax and Labor Question

[March 23] | Join AmericanHort for an informational update about recent legislation Congress passed in response to the Coronavirus emergency and its effects on your business' labor and tax policies from two of AmericanHort’s expert partners—CJ Lake and K-Coe Isom. Chris Schulte from CJ Lake LLC, a highly respected policy and advocacy firm that is nationally recognized for its expertise and accomplishments in agricultural and horticultural employment law, will discuss the emergency and sick leave obligations employers face. Brian Kuehl, partner and head of legislative affairs, and Beth Swanson, JD and member of the tax legal team from K-Coe Isom, the nation’s leading food and agriculture consulting and accounting firm, will provide insights on tax-related provisions in COVID-19 related legislation, along with federal filing date changes. This webinar is designed for anyone with human resource and financial responsibilities within the green industry. There will be time for questions and discussion at the end of the presentation.

Click here to register.

FREE Webinar, March 25 at 12:30pm CST: Financial Framework During a Crisis and Government Affairs Update

[March 23] | The National Association of Landscape Professionals invites you to join Greg Herring of The Herring Group and Andrew Bray, Esq., NALP VP of Government Affairs for the weekly webinar series to get the latest Coronavirus news and updates. On this week’s webinar, we will outline a financial framework for making important decisions during a crisis like COVID-19 and provide ideas on building liquidity (cash), working with lenders, scenario planning and accessing government programs. We will also provide government affairs and other important updates. You will have an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the webinar.

Click here to register.

FREE Webinar Recording from March 23: How will the Coronavirus change our legislative and economic environment?

[March 23] | Join AmericanHort’s Craig Reggelbrugge, Sr. VP of Advocacy & Research and Chief Economist Dr. Charlie Hall as they provide updates on the latest legislative activity and general state of the U.S. economy considering the global Coronavirus pandemic. Craig will speak about federal relief programs; the status of labor processing and collaborative work being done to keep horticultural business open. He will share available resources through the AmericanHort Coronavirus Resource Center, including assets available to share to help spread the message of the benefits of plants. Charlie will give an overall forecast for this year’s nursery, greenhouse and landscape sectors. Charlie will also discuss the implications of COVID-19 including the likely macro-level impacts on the economy, the policy tools being utilized to combat the negative effects on the economy, the likelihood of recession, and the micro-level strategies that green industry firms need to embrace immediately to position themselves to weather the impending downturn successfully. There will be time for questions at the end of the presentation.

Click here to access a recording of the webinar.

Twice-A-Day SBA Loan Training for COVID-19 Related Economic Disruptions

[March 23] | These trainings will cover program eligibility, use of proceeds, terms, filing requirements, additional small business resources. The SBA’s Minnesota District Office will be hosting these twice a day, starting Monday (3/23) at 9 a.m., until demand is met. Visit www.sba.gov/mn for more calendar dates and information on other resources available to help small businesses during this challenging time.

MNLA Sends Letter To Governor Walz, Lt. Governor, and Commissioner of Agriculture

[March 22] | MNLA sent a letter to local officials this weekend requesting that Green Industry Businesses be noted as essential.

Click here to read the letter.

Summary of the Families First Act & Expansion of Mandatory Paid Leave Provisions

[March 19] | After significant negotiations, the US House of Representatives and Senate passed the Families First Act, which provides for both Emergency Paid Sick Leave (two weeks), as well as a 12-week FMLA extension. These employer mandates come with a 100 percent payroll tax credit to help offset the impact to business, and the bill provides an exemption to employers with more than 500 employees.

The two-week paid sick leave is a mandate on employers, with a 100 percent refundable payroll tax credit on any wages paid for this tax credit. The maximum paid is $5,110 for the 80 hours required, or $511 per day.

The 12-week partially-paid FMLA is similarly funded by employers, with a 100 percent payroll tax credit to help employers.

Read the summary from the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

MN Department of Labor and Industry Extends Deadline for CE Reporting

[March 19] | DLI management has decided to extend the continuing education reporting deadlines 90 days for anyone whose license expires in March, April, or May 2020 per Minn. Stat. § 326B.0981, subd. 13. Licensees will still have to submit a timely license renewal in order to avoid late fees, but we will renew their licenses without all CE completed. DLI will follow up with these licensees to ensure CE compliance down the road.

Update from Governor Walz on Business Closures

[March 19] | From Governor Walz: "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."

MNLA Urges Policymakers to Consider Garden Centers as "Essential Businesses"

[March 18] | MNLA is working to urge public policy makers to ensure that garden centers remain open and are deemed "essential businesses."

Click here to take action and let your elected officials know that garden centers provide essential services, especially in times of crisis.

As our nation, communities and businesses react to the spread of COVID-19, the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association (MNLA) commends the efforts of local, state and federal governments to mitigate the impact and strive to keep the public safe and healthy.

The discussion of how to best ensure the public health has included the possibility of asking "non-essential" retail operations to shut their doors for a period of time, with the intent of minimizing exposure to the virus.

The Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association is fully in support of sensible steps public health officials may deem necessary to combat COVID-19. At the same, we urge public officials at all levels of government to consider garden retailers among those retail operations determined to be "essential" and allow these business owners the option to stay open as a public service.

United States Suspends ALL Embassy and Consulate Activities in Mexico

[March 17] | From the US Embassy in Mexico:

"In response to the global pandemic COVID-19, and in line with the Mexican government’s call to increase social distancing, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and all U.S. consulates in Mexico will suspend routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa services starting March 18, 2020, and until further notice. The U.S. Embassy and consulates will continue to provide essential consular services to U.S. citizens as well as emergency visa services."

Click here for more details.

This is deeply concerning for businesses that rely upon H-2A/B workers. Stay tuned for updates.

MN Unemployment Expanded

[March 16] | Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced sweeping changes to the unemployment program in Minnesota via executive action to allow for those who lose their jobs to access unemployment benefits immediately, as well as provide relief for employers. Note: This executive order ensures that employers are not penalized for workers that claim unemployment benefits.

Click here to view Emergency Executive Order 20-05.

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