ST. PAUL, MN — On Tuesday a working group of House Republicans unveiled the Main Street Relief Act, a package of proposals designed to help Minnesota businesses closed or limited by the latest executive orders from Gov. Tim Walz.
The package is headlined by a $400 million grant fund designed to help restaurants, bars, breweries, bowling alleys, gyms, and other establishments that were ordered to close or limit operations last week with less than 48 hours notice.
"We are in a crisis situation, and need to work together as quickly as possible to get help to the Main Street businesses that are beloved staples of our communities," said Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar. "We have been hard at work over the past two weeks engaging businesses, industry groups, and legislators from both parties on how we can help as many businesses as we can, as soon as we can."
The Main Street Relief Act includes:
- GRANT PROGRAM FOR BUSINESSES: A $400 million grant program for businesses who have been impacted most by the recent executive orders. This program would be administered through the counties — many of whom have already set up grant programs to distribute CARES Act funding.
- SALES TAX RELIEF: A 3 month sales tax holiday for businesses that have been limited to takeout or curbside-only operations, and a 3 month sales tax holiday that begins upon reopening for businesses that are currently mandated to be closed altogether.
- LIQUOR FLEXIBILITY: Temporarily doubling the current cap for takeout beer, wine, and liquor sales. In addition, granting flexibility to breweries and others to sell their product in containers up to 64 ounces.
- LICENSE FEE RELIEF: Waiving the state fee for establishments who sell alcohol until 2AM — currently in addition to license fees paid to the county, restaurants, bars, and other establishments pay a separate fee to the state to make sales between 1 AM and 2AM. Legislators also encouraged cities and counties to work to provide as much relief as possible from liquor and other license fees collected at the local level.
- OPEN OUR FITNESS CENTERS AND GYMS: Minnesota gyms and fitness centers have taken extreme caution to keep their clients safe during the pandemic, and physical activity is critical to helping Minnesotans maintain a healthy lifestyle. Available data does not support keeping our gyms closed — gyms should be allowed to reopen prior to the current December 18th deadline.
Rep. Baker urged the governor to convene meetings with all four legislative caucuses so lawmakers could move forward together on a relief package.
"We do our best work when we work together — we still haven't seen details of the governor's proposals, but I hope we're able to get all four caucuses and the governor's office working together quickly. We need to do this quickly," Baker concluded.