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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Josh Heintzeman

Friday, December 18, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

On Wednesday, Governor Walz announced that he will extend shutdowns and restrictions of Minnesota businesses into the New Year, including a shutdown of indoor dining at bars and restaurants, and continued restrictions on youth sporting events. Additionally, the Governor will continue to keep hotel pools closed despite there being zero known cases of transmission.

Almost insultingly, the Governor said that he will allow outdoor dining at 50% capacity and with tables at least 6 feet apart. Dining outside in the middle of December and January in Minnesota makes little sense and most establishments do not have heaters available to make the experience comfortable for customers.

According to reporting in the Star Tribune, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) attributes 2,766 cases to restaurant or bar customers, representing 0.7% of the 384,164 cases in our state. For comparison, the number of cases affiliated with restaurants/bars is less than the number of deaths at nursing homes or long-term care facilities alone.

Here are additional details on the updated executive order:

  • Social gatherings – Expanded slightly; limited to two households with no more than 10 ppl. Outdoor, no more than three households and 15 people. 
  • Gyms/fitness centers - 25% capacity up to 100 patrons. Expanding physical space to 12 feet. Masks at all times. No group classes until January 4th. Pools closed. Showers closed. Locker rooms can be used as long as 6 ft maintained. 
  • Bars/Restaurants - extending closure for dine-in until January 10. Outdoor dining will be allowed until 10PM, no more than 4 people per table and 6 feet apart.
  • Outdoor entertainment - Allowed to open with limited capacity of up to 25%. 
  • Sports - January 4th youth sports can resume practice, but no games and no date set on when games can resume.
  • Education – In person classes for elementary students may begin on a rolling basis starting January 4th through January 18th. Schools can make decisions locally and education staff will be tested every other week. Families may choose to continue distance learning.

This executive order is just the latest example of the need to end the Governor’s peacetime emergency powers so that the legislature and Minnesota citizens have a say in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of communication and respect from the Governor’s office is unacceptable.

Business Relief

Thankfully, some relief is headed businesses’ way soon as the legislature approved a business relief package late Monday evening, sending to the Governor's desk a bill to help small businesses and workers impacted by Governor Walz's latest restrictions on businesses.

The business relief package includes direct grants to businesses, license, and fee relief, and a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance for workers.

Check the Minnesota Department of Revenue website for details on business relief payments. 

We know that the harmful closures mandated by Governor Walz have resulted in significant economic hardship for main street businesses and families in our community. This legislation will help alleviate some of the damage caused by the Governor, but it will not make these businesses whole.

These folks don't want a handout, they want to safely reopen their doors and serve the community. The Governor's orders are not backed up by data, and he needs to allow as many businesses as possible to reopen with safety measures in place to protect employees and customers.

Staying in Touch

I will have more updates for you in the coming weeks as this year’s legislative session is set to begin in early January.

Until then, please do not hesitate to contact me to share your thoughts and concerns regarding state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4333 or via email at

Have a great day,