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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL)

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Rep. Pryor approves COVID-19 Assistance

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

SAINT PAUL, MN – Monday night, the Minnesota House approved a new economic assistance package for workers and small businesses experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. The legislation includes financial assistance to the hardest hit businesses and helps provide stability to workers by extending unemployment benefits. Rep. Laurie Pryor released the following statement:

“The pandemic has created immense challenges for Minnesotans in ways we could not imagine. Tonight, we approved economic assistance for those hit hardest by COVID. The legislature can’t provide all the help individuals and businesses need, but we were able to create a bridge until the federal government steps in with another round of aid.”

The $216 million package of economic assistance to small businesses includes $88 million in direct financial aid to businesses experiencing economic harm due to the pandemic. Eligible small businesses will receive direct financial aid include restaurants, bars, coffee shops, breweries, wineries and distilleries with taprooms or tasting rooms, caterers, bowling alleys, and some gyms and fitness centers. The legislation also includes $14 million worth of grants to movie theaters and large convention centers. The remaining $114.8 million will be made available to counties for grants to other affected businesses, including hotels, museums, arcades and live theater venues.

In addition, the bill provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits to more than 100,000 workers displaced as a result of the pandemic. Without action from the Legislature, these workers could lose benefits on December 26 when funding under the federal CARES Act is set to expire.

The bill also waives or delays 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. Finally, the legislation extends the deadline for families to apply for free and reduced-price lunch.