SAINT PAUL, Minn. – On Monday night, the Minnesota House passed a new economic assistance package to help small businesses and workers struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation, which Gov. Walz will sign into law today, includes financial assistance for businesses most impacted by the pandemic and a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for workers.
“This legislation provides a much-needed lifeline for small businesses and working families,” said Rep. Ami Wazlawik (DFL –White Bear Township), who voted in favor of the legislation. “While it doesn’t eliminate the need for federal aid, this assistance will help Minnesotans make ends meet as we wait for the federal government to step up and provide additional support. I’m proud we could come together to deliver this critical aid for those who need it most.”
The legislation delivers $216 million of economic assistance to small businesses. Of this, $88 million comes in the form of direct financial aid to those experiencing economic harm due to the pandemic. Eligible businesses 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 for 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.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, thousands of workers in Minnesota have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits and remain unable to find a job. To help workers displaced as a result of the pandemic, this legislation provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits. Without action from the Legislature, more than 100,000 Minnesota workers would lose their benefits on December 26 when funding from the federal CARES Act is set to expire.
The bill also waives or delays a series of fees for the hospitality industry and extends the deadline for families to apply for free and reduced-price lunch.
Information and resources, including bill language, are available on the Minnesota House’s COVID-19 webpage.