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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sandy Layman (R)

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News From Representative Layman 5-1-2020

Friday, May 01, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

The Tioga boat landing on Pokegama lake was jammed yesterday – and will be all weekend – with folks taking advantage of this beautiful weather to get their boats into the water. 

The fishing opener will soon be upon us but will be unlike any other. I know our resorts have worked hard preparing and it remains to be seen if the Governor’s extended stay at home order will keep people from traveling north.

By now you know that yesterday Governor Walz announced an extension of the state’s stay at home order. The order was initially slated to end on May 4th—it will now extend until at least May 18th.

You can read the new executive order here.

The Governor also announced that customer-facing retail businesses that sell goods can now engage in curbside or outside pick-up and delivery, as long as customers do not enter the business premise.

For more guidance on curbside delivery, click here.

Allowing retail businesses curbside pickup is a small step in the right direction, however, I am concerned that it does not go far enough to save our local small businesses. For these businesses, being closed until May 18th, and missing the Fishing Opener business, could be a devastating setback that they may not recover from. Neither Governor Walz nor his DEED Commissioner has given us a satisfactory response when asked why small retailers cannot follow the same safety protocols that their big-box competitors are just now beginning to follow. 

Had they been allowed to remain open, they could have easily put these safety measures into place.

Please know that I hear and understand many of your frustrations. It pains me to see the businesses I have worked with over the decades struggling to survive and not having a clear end date in sight. I continue to push the administration to provide additional exemptions so that more businesses can open their doors.  

Minnesota and our economy cannot afford to wait much longer.

Itasca and Cass County Property Tax Update

I have talked to many business owners that have been forced to close their doors, about their struggle to pay their property taxes, due on May 15th, when they have no income.  

So I am happy to report that both Itasca and Cass Counties are planning to abate penalties for late payment of property taxes. Itasca County took action at their last board meeting to abate late payment penalties on the first half property taxes for those businesses that have been affected by the pandemic. On May 5th, Cass County is expected to approve a resolution to abate penalties for late payment of property taxes for all taxpayers who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

I’m grateful for the counties’ leadership on this issue and willingness to step up to the plate to help during this difficult and uncertain time. This is definitely the right decision considering the current economic realities impacting so many folks.

Helping Rural Hospitals

My legislative colleagues and I recently sent a letter urging Governor Walz to ease restrictions on hospitals and clinics that have indefinitely delayed elective surgeries and procedures.

Tens of thousands of Minnesotans need medical care—including surgeries, chronic pain management, and cancer treatments—and many of their needs are being delayed due to the governor's executive order.

Furthermore, hospitals across the state are being forced to lay-off or cut the pay of the very nurses and doctors this order was meant to protect. Tens of thousands of Minnesotans working in health care have filed for unemployment, and that number continues to rise.

On Thursday, we received word from the Governor’s office that they will likely make changes to this executive order in the coming days. This is good news!

The administration is seeking feedback and input before final guidance is issued. The draft guidance and public comment survey can be accessed here.

Opening Campgrounds and RV Resorts

Finally, I signed onto a letter to Governor Walz asking him to reopen campgrounds and RV resorts.

The tourism industry is vital for our local economy and the current closures are hurting many family businesses that have owned and operated resorts and campgrounds for generations. Giving campgrounds and RV resorts the flexibility to reopen will help these family-owned businesses recover some of the losses they have incurred.

Minnesotans have proven time and again that they care about their health and safety of their neighbors. I have no doubt that these families can reopen their businesses in a way that preserves the health and safety of their customers.

Staying in Touch

Please enjoy your weekend and the first real taste of summer and, as always, stay in touch!

Talk to you soon,

Sandy

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