Our businesses are suffering great losses due to the governor’s unilateral restrictions that were set to expire Friday. But, instead of allowing his orders to lapse so hardworking Minnesotans can get back on the job and earn a paycheck, he extended shutdowns into the new year, with some moderate easing – and the word “moderate” might be generous.
For example, bars and restaurants are prohibited from dine-in service at least until Jan. 10. The “moderate” easing is that the governor also says bars and restaurants can now provide outdoor service.
Outdoor dining service during winter in Minnesota is not a meaningful solution. In fact, this is an insult to our hospitality industry. Our businesses are under water, but the governor just threw them some swimming trunks and told them to have fun at the beach.
It’s disgusting that one single person can stand at a podium and announce decisions he made that will continue to uproot the livelihoods of hardworking Minnesotans and the families they support. That’s not how our state was founded.
I cannot tell you how many proud business owners I’ve heard from that are at the end of their rope, ready to just drop off their keys at the bank and call it quits because of the governor’s restrictions. That is no way to live and the governor has turned a challenging point in our statehood into a shameful period in the way our government treats its citizens.
This is the legacy Gov. Walz has created for himself and the end to his unilateral rule is long overdue. Unfortunately, when House Republicans moved to take his emergency powers up for a vote during a special session on Monday, House Democrats once again blocked the effort. It’s the eighth time they’ve done so.
One thing that did receive approval in the one-day special session is a 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. 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.
Visit the DOR website for more information on the business relief payments.
Look for more news from the Capitol soon. The 2021 session begins next month, so there will be a lot to talk about in the weeks to come.