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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Legislative update

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

The Legislature on Monday approved a $216 million business relief package designed to help small businesses and workers impacted by Gov. Tim Walz’s restrictions. 

So how did the governor respond? Two days later he announced that he will extend shutdowns and restrictions of Minnesota businesses into the new year, with some moderate easing.

This move from the governor is highly disappointing because the best remedy for our ailing business owners would be to simply allow them to do more to safely re-open.

The relief package that was approved (and enacted by the governor Wednesday) is not going to be a silver bullet that makes everyone whole, but it is a first step while I would like to see more being done. We absolutely have to get these businesses back on their feet in a real way. 

The arbitrary rules by Gov. Walz, keeping businesses closed, is destroying our rural economy. We need to change the way we view this. We need to change the opportunities that are around. If we are going to keep businesses closed, we need to pay them to be closed and not simply do this on the backs of these small-business owners.

As for the relief package itself, it 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. 

Preliminary grant estimates for counties in District 16A were $256,000 for Lac qui Parle, $506,000 for Lyon, $300,000 for Redwood and $256,000 for Yellow Medicine.

Watch for more news on these and other subjects soon. The 2021 session begins early next month, so there will be a lot more ground to cover in the near future.