ST. PAUL – Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, is among more than 50 Republican lawmakers urging Gov. Tim Walz and state agencies to improve their relations with businesses amid efforts to combat COVID-19.
Nornes and fellow House Republicans filed the request through a letter to Walz on Monday. It is in response to a letter the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Labor and Industry issued last week informing hospitality industry leaders of stepped-up state compliance checks that could result in fines, forced closure loss of liquor license, workplace investigations, and more.
“Hospitality is a major industry in our part of the state and it is extremely concerning to see our own state agencies threaten local businesses,” Nornes said. “The state’s agencies are supposed to serve the public, but it seems as if today’s government is focusing more on forcing compliance with the governor’s personal mandates than providing the guiding hand our businesses need to overcome the extraordinary circumstances they face today. I hope the letter we sent to the governor causes us to pause and think so our state can stop creating adversarial relationships and do more to build partnerships that will help businesses turn the corner to brighter days.”
According to estimates from Hospitality Minnesota, just 2.3% of total state cases have been traced back to restaurants and bars, and there have been just over two dozen restaurants specifically identified as sources of outbreaks.
Walz previously has stated that enforcement of state mandates and regulations were to be education in nature rather than punitive. The letter Nornes and others wrote urges Walz to “reassess the tone and approach your agencies are taking” with restaurants and bars, and urges state agencies to be partners rather than adversaries in efforts to combat COVID-19.