ST. PAUL – Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, 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.
McDonald 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.
“As concerning as it is to say, the state could not do much more to endanger our hospitality industry unless it were trying,” McDonald said. “I just don’t know how else to explain it. Our restaurants and bars have suffered immensely in trying to deal with severe restrictions that have been placed on them the last several months and now our own state agencies are coming in and throwing their weight around by ramping up surveillance of compliance with the governor’s unilateral mandates.
“Our workers have been through enough and now is not the time for the heavy hand of government to come down on them. What we really need is for the state to be partnering with our entrepreneurs to best manage the current situation so our businesses not only survive, but safely enter recovery and rebuilding phases. That’s the kind of working relationship Minnesotans deserve with their government and I hope our message helps the governor to understand.”
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 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.