October 26, 2020

Time Off to Vote

Minnesota Voter
“Every employee who is eligible to vote in an election has the right to be absent from work for the time necessary to appear at the employee's polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work on the day of that election, without penalty or deduction from salary or wages because of the absence. An employer or other person may not directly or indirectly refuse, abridge, or interfere with this right or any other election right of an employee.”
- Minn. Statutes Sect. 204C.04 EMPLOYEES; TIME OFF TO VOTE, Subdivision 1. Right to be absent

Find out who is on the ballot and how to vote early

Wisconsin Voter
“(1) Any person entitled to vote at an election is entitled to be absent from work while the polls are open for a period not to exceed 3 successive hours to vote. The elector shall notify the affected employer before election day of the intended absence. The employer may designate the time of day for the absence.”

Wisconsin Statute Section 6.76, Time off for voting.

$1.9 Billion Bonding Bill Passes The Minnesota Legislature!

The Minnesota Legislature passed and Governor Walz has signed a $1.9 billion bonding into law that includes funding for colleges, water plants, roads and bridges and small changes to state spending and taxes. 

  • List of Bonding Projects
  • Summary of Other Provisions of the Bill
The bill includes $1.320 billion in building construction and $544 million in transportation.

$1.134 billion in general obligation bonds (borrowing); 
$   147 million in appropriation bonds (borrowing being paid for by a specific revenue source; 
$     39 million in cash; 
$   244 million from the transportation funds (gas tax); and 
$   300 million in trunk highway bonds (borrowing).

The Federal Tax Code section 179 expensing has changed for Minnesota tax law. Here is the summary provided by Senate staff.

"Article 7 – Individual Income and Corporate Franchise Taxes 
Sections 1 and 2 [Section 179 Expensing] remove the 80 percent addback requirement for section 179 expensing so that, beginning in tax year 2020, individual and corporate filers may expense the full amount allowed at the federal level ($1 million, with $2.5 million phase out limit) in the year the property is placed in service. For “qualifying depreciable property,” the full section 179 limit applies retroactively to 2018. Qualifying depreciable property is personal property for which depreciation is allowed under the Internal Revenue Code that qualified for pre-TCJA like-kind exchange treatment (the TCJA limited like-kind exchanges to real property). Effective retroactively to tax year 2018 for qualifying depreciable property; effective beginning in tax year 2020 for all other property. 
Section 3 [Section 179 Expensing; Subtractions] disallows the section 179 subtraction for qualifying depreciable property (defined in earlier sections), given the retroactive application to tax year 2018 of full section 179 conformity for qualifying depreciable property. This prevents a subtraction of more than 100 percent from being claimed on 2018 and 2019 returns for qualifying depreciable property. Effective the day following final enactment for property placed in service beginning in tax year 2018."

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Survey - Please Complete!

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis continues to track pandemic effects on the construction sector across the Ninth District, a region that includes Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, northwestern Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Please take this 5-minute survey to help the Minneapolis Fed and Bank President Neel Kashkari better understand activity levels in the construction sector, which will help inform monetary policy and the economic recovery. 
All survey responses are anonymous. If you get this survey from multiple sources, please respond to the survey only once. To maintain anonymity, please do not include any self-identifying information in any comments. Survey results will be published on the Bank website (see article on August survey here).  

The Minneapolis Fed greatly appreciates your time and valuable insights, and we wish you and your business good luck in the coming months.

Are You Paying the Correct Workers' Compensation Rate for Quarantined Employees?
If an employee is required to be quarantined due to Federal, State or local quarantine the employee’s workers compensation exposure is dramatically less than if they are working on a construction site thus, your work. comp. rate should be lower. Under Minnesota's work. comp. rules employees under quarantine are classified as "paid furloughed employees" and payment goes under a special work. comp. code (Code 0012) and this rate may be lower than their normal work code.  “Paid furloughed employees” is a term only used under the work. comp. code and are people who are still your employee and have not been laid-off.

Check with your workers’ compensation carrier for information specific to your company and policy. 

Examples of “paid furloughed employees”: 
(1) Employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; 
(2) Employee has been advised by a health care provider to self- quarantine related to COVID-19; 
(3) Employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis; 
(4) Employee is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self- quarantined as described in (2); 
(6) Employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and
(5) Employee is caring for his/her child whose school or place of childcare is closed (or childcare is unavailable) due to COVID-19- related reasons; and who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days. 

“Paid furloughed employees means employees who continue to receive payments during a temporary layoff or an involuntary leave and are not performing any work duties for an employer. Effective March 1, 2020, payments by an employer or any public governmental entity to paid furloughed employees as a result of federal, state, and/or local emergency orders, laws or regulations, issued due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic which impact an employer’s staffing or business operations must be reported to Statistical Code 0012—Paid Furloughed Employees. Such payments do not include any appropriated funds or loans received by an employer as authorized by any law or regulation, or public governmental entity, that are used by an employer specifically to retain or hire working employees.”
“Payments to paid furloughed employees must be assigned to Code 0012, in accordance with the Minnesota Statistical Plan.  Payments to paid furloughed employees made in accordance with this Rule 2-F-3 are excluded from the premium and experience rating calculations only if the employer keeps separate, accurate, and verifiable records. If separate, accurate, and verifiable records are not maintained, payroll is assigned to the classification for work normally performed by the employee prior to any emergency orders, laws, or regulations issued due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.”
“If an employee is requested to perform any duties for an employer, the employee is not deemed a paid furloughed employee for any period of time they are performing duties for the employer. If the employee is not deemed a paid furloughed employee, payroll must be assigned to the classification applicable to the work being performed in accordance with Minnesota Basic Manual Rule 1-A.”
-Minnesota Statistical Plan

CDC Guidance on “Close Contact” Tightened

Previously the Center for Disease Control defined “close contact” as being within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes.  They have tightened this definition to being “within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 -hour period….” This change is due to increased information about the airborne transmission of COVID-19. For purposes of contact tracing the definition is for both those with and without fabric face coverings.

Upcoming Classes & Webinars

NCPWB Contractor Representative Training - October 27, 2020 Register
The Art of Bidding - October 29, 2020 Register
3 Steps to Building a Culture of Feedback and Transparency - November 12, 2020 Register
Why Mental Wellbeing and Suicide Prevention are Leadership Issues in Construction, OSHA - November 17, 2020 Register
Valuable Tools for Emerging Leaders with Katie Lane - December 10, 2020 Register

Cloth Face Masks Available from MMCA
MMCA has washable 2-ply cotton masks with adjustable tie backs available free for contractor members. Fill out the form on our COVID-19 Webpage to request masks. 
If you have employees who need assistance with stress, financial, or familial issues refer them to HealthPartners Employee Assistance Program at 866-326-7194 or text US HEAP and your question to 919-324-5523 or log on to (website password “ptsmn”).
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