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We have experienced the effects of the corona virus very close to home here in District 30 this week. Yet, the resources and responses continue to expand, which is good news for us all as individuals, and for our economy and communities. I will touch on a few of those below. But first I would like to call to your attention some important items which can be handled from home.
Wednesday was Census Day. Households across Nebraska have already received or will soon receive a letter in the mail with information about how to be counted. The Census is vitally important to our state. Federal grants make up one-third of state budgets and 95% of these rely on census-derived data to distribute funding.
The survey is short, about eight questions per member of your household. Responses are required by law. Persons should be counted where they live most of the year and/or on April 1, 2020, Census Day. Representatives of the U.S. Census Bureau are able to help over the phone and offer language assistance.
If someone does not complete their form, a U.S. Census Bureau representative will have to visit the household to make sure everyone is counted. This costs the government more money, so I encourage you to respond as soon as possible.
By law, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies. That’s protected under Title 13 of the U.S. Code. So you can be confident in doing your part to ensure Nebraska gets all the federal funding we should. Thankfully, for the first time ever, households can complete the census online, by phone, or by mail. Go to my2020census.gov to be counted, or 2020census.gov for more information from the United States Census Bureau.
Another important thing you can do by mail is vote! The primary election will take place in May, but any and everyone can request a mail-in ballot. This will help every voter and every person who volunteers at the polls to stay safe during the virus pandemic. Please, contact your county election commissioner if you have not yet received an application for a mail-in ballot. https://gagecountynebraska.us/ or https://www.lancaster.ne.gov/314/Election-Commissioner
Turning to information specifically about COVID-19, the state maintains a dashboard with updated information and statistics. It can be found here: https://nebraska.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/4213f719a45647bc873ffb58783ffef3
The distribution of economic impact payments from the congressional stimulus package will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. However, some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment. For more information, go to the Internal Revenue website, https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
In line with federal recommendations, Nebraska has issued an executive order changing requirements for unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed between March 22 and May 2, with an understanding that the timeframe could be extended if needed.
For individuals who are not eligible for unemployment insurance, we now have Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, PUA. An example of those who can take advantage of PUA include, for example, independent contractors, sole practitioners, or those unable to work due to COVID-19. This program is 100% federally funded.
The loss of employment must be due to COVID-19, but the parameters include a number of reasons for being unable to work. Contact the Department of Labor for complete information. Please keep in mind that you must
must apply for unemployment insurance through the Nebraska Department of Labor to obtain PUA, but your application will be denied, because you are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits. However you will then automatically be pulled into the PUA system. This is how the system works so just be aware that denial of UI benefits is not the same as PUA. Go to: https://neworks.nebraska.gov/
The state emergency management system (NEMA) has been activated much like it was a year ago, to take care of the massive flooding across eastern Nebraska. In this instance with the corona virus, they are working closely with public health entities to monitor the supply chain and staffing of essential needs and industries. We are also fortunate to have UNMC and Nebraska Medicine located in our state, as they are on the front lines of the pandemic on a global scale.
As you are aware, things have been changing rapidly, so be sure you are checking ahead on restrictions and recommendations. If you have any specific questions or concerns please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office and leave a message at 402-471-2620. My staff and I are working through your communications as they come in and we will respond as quickly as we can. Please follow the guidelines for staying safe and well, and we will get through this together.