Proposal includes grants to businesses, sales tax relief, and more
ST. PAUL — House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled the outline of a package designed to help mitigate the severe economic damage that many of Main Street businesses are again suffering due to the latest executive order issued by Gov. Tim Walz. That emergency order came with no indication of whether any assistance would be available to help bridge the gap until that order is lifted.
The Main Street Relief Act is headlined by a $400 million grant fund designed to support restaurants, bars, breweries, bowling alleys, theaters, gyms, and other establishments that have been ordered to close or limit operations since last week.
“Our business owners and their employees are again facing financial hardships that were not of their own making,” said Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin. “Waiting for federal assistance is not a solution, we are asking the governor to work with us to provide a measure of relief as soon as possible. With the potential for a vaccine becoming available soon, we need to put a package in place that will tide us over until we can fully reopen the economy.”
The package 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 three-month sales tax holiday for businesses that have been limited to takeout or curbside-only operations, and a three-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 2 a.m. — 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 and 2 a.m. 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 Dec. 18 date scheduled.