SAINT PAUL, MN – Tonight, the Minnesota House approved a new economic assistance package to help small businesses and workers struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation includes direct financial assistance to the hardest hit businesses and helps protect economic security for workers by extending unemployment benefits. Rep. Sydney Jordan (DFL-Minneapolis) released this statement.
“This has been a very difficult nine months for Minnesota's workers and small businesses as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. I am pleased we came together to pass a compromise measure to help our neighbors weather the storm. The extension of unemployment for those who have lost jobs through no fault of their own should provide some stability during these uncertain times. Additionally, I worked with many of my colleagues to provide help to our breweries, taprooms, and distilleries in addition to our many restaurants, bars, and other small businesses.”
The legislation delivers a $216 million package of economic assistance to small businesses. Of this, $88 million comes in the form of direct financial aid to businesses experiencing economic harm due to the pandemic, including breweries, wineries and distilleries with taprooms or tasting rooms. Other eligible businesses include restaurants, bars, coffee shops, 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.
The bill also provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for workers displaced as a result of the pandemic. Without action from the Legislature, over 100,000 Minnesota workers could lose benefits on December 26 when funding under the federal CARES Act is set to expire.
The bill 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.