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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Debra Kiel (R)

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RELEASE: Rep. Fabian, Rep. Kiel, & Sen. Johnson: bipartisan COVID emergency relief a temporary lifeline

Thursday, December 17, 2020


Rep. Fabian, Rep. Kiel, & Sen. Johnson: bipartisan COVID emergency relief a temporary lifeline

(St. Paul, MN) - The Minnesota Legislature approved a $216.8 million emergency relief bill on Monday to assist small businesses devastated by Gov. Tim Walz's most recent executive order. This is a bridge package, helping until businesses in hopes they can re-open soon. The Governor's restrictions have closed gyms, restaurants, bars, theaters, and other businesses in Minnesota. They need assistance fast before our communities start losing businesses and the families that run or work in them.  The first relief checks could be mailed by the end of the month.

Senator Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks). “From people’s physical to financial health, we’ve all been impacted this past year from the fallout of Covid, but the Walz’s November executive order, shuttering critical pieces of our communities without regard for local differences, was a major mistake. As more and more businesses face financial collapse, people’s livelihoods are increasingly in jeopardy. Today’s bipartisan bill delivers some assistance to them but is no substitute for a safe and reasonable reopening of the economy.”

“I want to thank our local county commissioners for the hard work they did this summer getting federal CARES Act money out to those who needed it,” said Fabian (R-Roseau). “We now ask them to roll up their sleeves again to distribute this business relief money out as quickly as they can to businesses that are really hurting in our area. Our commissioners have been given a difficult job in distributing these dollars quickly to those who need it, but I know they are up to the task.”

“I am glad that our local businesses will see some relief from this bill,” said Kiel (R-Crookston). “However, it is important to remember that this is a temporary fix to a problem where the only long-term solution is for the governor to let businesses open up again. We know that our businesses can open safely, and it is time for the Governor to allow them to do so."

 The bill provides emergency assistance in three tiers:

  • Direct payments: $88 million is allocated for businesses in industries directly impacted by the executive order, including bars, restaurants, and gyms. These businesses will receive a check mailed directly to them, with no need to apply. Assistance will be broken down as follows:
    • Businesses that are down 30% in revenue and have 0-20 employees will receive a $15k check
    • Businesses with 21-100 employees will receive $25k
    • Businesses with 101-300 employees will receive $35k
    • Business with more than 300 employees will receive $45k 
  • $14 million is approved for small business relief grants available through DEED. These grants are aimed at businesses like convention centers and movie theaters.
  • $114.8 million in relief grants will be distributed to counties based on a per capita formula. Counties will then allocate that money to small businesses directly or indirectly impacted by the executive order. Counties will have wide latitude, but funding must be distributed by March 15.

All relief funds must be used to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar expenses in the regular course of business.

Additionally, the legislation provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefit payments to applicants that exhaust the balance of regular state benefits or federal benefits between December 19, 2020 and April 3, 2021.