Proposals include grants to businesses, sales tax relief, and more
ST. PAUL, MN — A working group of House Republicans including Rep. Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, on Tuesday unveiled a package designed to help Minnesota businesses hampered by the latest executive orders from Gov. Tim Walz.
The Main Street Relief Act 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.
“Our state already has lost a number of businesses during this pandemic and many more are hanging on by a thread,” Demuth said. “An urgent response is needed and we have assembled a common-sense package that allows us to quickly meet areas of great need in and help stop the bleeding. We have been collaborating with people from various industries and legislators from both sides of the aisle in an effort to find common ground and pass relief as soon as possible.”
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 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.
“Fitness is a critical part of people's health and wellbeing, and gyms and fitness centers play a huge role in that,” Demuth said. “The state's own data indicates that, despite literally millions of visits over the past several months, there have been just 48 total outbreaks. These facilities do an amazing job scheduling visits, cleaning equipment, spacing out customers, etc. There are thousands of employees that we could help get back to work by allowing gyms to safely reopen. I hope this is something the governor will take a hard look at, whether it means opening now or reopening prior to the current date in mid-December.”