Thank you to everyone that joined us for our District 45 Virtual Town Hall. It was great to hear all of your questions, and I look forward to working with our new legislative team next session. Since our town hall, there have been several notable updates, from the first vaccines being administered to economic assistance legislation being passed. Here’s a quick update on our latest work - and an important public call to help name a snowplow!
COVID-19 Economic Assistance
Small businesses and working Minnesotans have faced tremendous economic hardship because of the pandemic due to no fault of their own. Last week, we approved a COVID-19 Economic Assistance Package to help businesses and workers survive this economic crisis, and the governor subsequently signed the bill into law. Here are some highlights of the plan:
- A 13-week extension of unemployment benefits. Without this legislative action, over 100,000 Minnesota workers were on track to lose benefits on December 26 when funding under the federal CARES Act expires.
- $88 million of financial aid to businesses experiencing economic harm due to the pandemic. Those eligible businesses include restaurants, bars, coffee shops, breweries, wineries and distilleries with taprooms or tasting rooms, caterers, bowling alleys, and some gyms and fitness centers.
- $14 million worth of grants to movie theaters and large convention centers.
- $114.8 million for county grants to other affected businesses, including hotels, museums, arcades and live theater venues.
- Waiver or delay of a series of fees for the hospitality industry, including 2 a.m. liquor licenses for bars, caterers that serve alcohol, wastewater permitting fees for small breweries, and certain late payment penalties for food related businesses.
- Extension of the deadline for families to apply for free and reduced-price lunch.
More information on what’s in the bill can be found here, and the specifics on eligible businesses, program requirements, and payment amounts here.
While this assistance should help, it’s far from a fix-all solution. Please continue to support your favorite mom and pop establishments as you are able, with takeout meals, gift cards, or merchandise. Our local businesses are the economic backbone for our communities, and we are all counting on them to make it through this crisis.
Help Name a Snowplow
To celebrate the winter season, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is holding a contest to name a snowplow within its fleet. The contest has already produced names like Kent Brrrbek and Bobsled Dylan. The top eight will be compiled in February for a final vote to name the plow. Click here to submit your idea before January 22.