$216 million package to help survive Gov. Walz's latest shutdown
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House on Monday approved a $216 million business relief package designed to help small businesses and workers impacted by Gov. Tim Walz’s latest restrictions on businesses.
The move comes as business owners wait for the governor to announce whether he will extend current restrictions past their scheduled expiration this Friday. Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, said the relief package will help, but the best remedy would be allowing Minnesota businesses to safely re-open their doors.
“Our local gyms, dance studios bars and restaurants really need the help,” McDonald said. “These are desperate times and any help is needed by our businesses. The best thing for them would be for the governor to ease his restrictions and allow our businesses to safely be open during these challenging times. If big-box stores can do it, then so, too, can they.
“Families and individuals have poured their life savings and life work into their business only to see it diminishing and falling right before their eyes. They have all spent a lot of money ensuring their businesses are safe and that they comply with the governor’s executive order limiting them to 25 to 50 percent capacity. And then, after compliance, he completely shut them down with very little notice and little to no evidence that cases are rising because their businesses are open. Gyms, in particular, are conducive to good health and yet he shut them down. The governor’s inconsistencies and lack of communication with the business community are highly concerning.”
The business relief package includes direct grants to businesses, license and other fee relief, and a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance for workers.
The grants are broken into three categories aimed at prioritizing speed. The first category will be $88 million in grants administered automatically by the Department of Revenue to restaurants, bars, gyms, bowling alleys, and other businesses who have seen losses of more than 30 percent compared with last year.
The second category is approximately $14 million administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for movie theaters and large convention centers, and the third pot is $112 million in grants that will be administered at the county level.
The county-based grants are intended to help additional businesses impacted by the recent closures that do not qualify for the first two grant categories, however businesses which receive grants from the DOR are not precluded from receiving county-based grants.
McDonald said he is waiting for confirmation of exact dollar amounts for grants plus administrative fees appropriated to counties throughout the state in the bill. He indicated preliminary estimates showed north of $2.7 million for Wright.
The bill passed the House by a 117-13 vote. With Senate approval secured 62-4 earlier Monday, it now is in the hands of the governor for enactment.