$216 million package to help survive Gov. Walz's latest shutdown
ST. PAUL, MN — The Minnesota House on Monday approved a $216 million business relief package designed to help small businesses and workers impacted by Gov. Tim Walz’s latest restrictions on businesses.
The move comes as business owners wait for the governor to announce whether he will extend current restrictions past their scheduled expiration this Friday. Rep. Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, said the relief package will help, but the best remedy would be allowing Minnesota businesses to safely re-open their doors.
“This is relief to businesses that were, once again, forced to shut down on very short notice from the governor and without any assistance plan offered,” Demuth said “We realize this is no cure-all for businesses, but I hope this relief will bide some time until the federal government approves additional relief. In the meantime, the best thing we can do to mitigate the pain our business owners are feeling is to help them safely re-open their doors so people can resume making a living.”
The business relief package includes direct grants to businesses, license and other fee relief, and a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance for workers.
The grants are broken into three categories aimed at prioritizing speed. The first category will be $88 million in grants administered automatically by the Department of Revenue to restaurants, bars, gyms, bowling alleys, and other businesses who have seen losses of more than 30 percent compared with last year.
The second category is approximately $14 million administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for movie theaters and large convention centers, and the third pot is $112 million in grants that will be administered at the county level.
The county-based grants are intended to help additional businesses impacted by the recent closures that do not qualify for the first two grant categories, however businesses which receive grants from the DOR are not precluded from receiving county-based grants.
Demuth said she is waiting for confirmation of exact dollar amounts for grants plus administrative fees appropriated to counties throughout the state in the bill. She indicated preliminary estimates showed Stearns receiving a little more than $3 million.
The bill passed the House by a 117-13 vote. With Senate approval secured 62-4 earlier Monday, it now is in the hands of the governor for enactment.