ST. PAUL – Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, is among more than 50 Republican lawmakers urging Gov. Tim Walz and?state agencies to improve their relations with businesses amid efforts to combat COVID-19.
Lueck and fellow House Republicans filed the request in a letter to Walz on Monday. It is in response to a letter the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Labor and Industry issued last week informing hospitality industry leaders of stepped-up state compliance checks that could result in fines, forced closure, loss of liquor license, workplace investigations, and more.
“Our citizens and businesses here in rural Minnesota are working hard every day to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Lueck said. “There is no need for our state agencies to talk down to or threaten our hard-working citizens and businesses for us to take appropriate precautions.”
According to estimates from Hospitality Minnesota, just 2.3% of total state cases have been traced back to restaurants and bars, and there have been just over two dozen restaurants specifically identified as sources of outbreaks.
“Our hospitality businesses and their employees are paying a very heavy price with many lost jobs and permanent closure of some local businesses,” Lueck said. “It’s inappropriate for those in St. Paul to continue to threaten them, rather we should be thanking them for their continued sacrifice and cooperation in fighting this pandemic.”
Walz previously has stated that enforcement of state mandates and regulations were to be education in nature rather than punitive. The letter Lueck and others penned urges Walz to “reassess the tone and approach your agencies are taking” with restaurants and bars, and urges state agencies to be partners rather than adversaries in efforts to combat COVID-19.