ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House of Representatives approved a $216 million 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. Walz has twice delayed an announcement on whether the restrictions first announce on November 18th will continue past their December 18 expiration.
“This bill will help businesses in our community stay afloat and keep our neighbors employed,” said Rep. Paul Novotny, R-Elk River. “The package is designed to get dollars to struggling businesses as quickly as possible and includes money to counties who can target the relief at those who need it most. However, this legislation is not a silver bullet and will not cover all the losses that our local economy has suffered because of Governor Walz’s shutdowns. That’s why I will continue to advocate for an end to the peacetime emergency and restore the legislature’s constitutionally designated role as a coequal branch of government.”
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 (DOR) to restaurants, bars, gyms, bowling alleys, and other businesses who have seen losses of more than 30% compared to last year.
- The second category is approximately $14 million administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for movie theaters and large convention centers, and
- The third 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 who receive grants from the DOR are not precluded from receiving county-based grants.
Gov. Walz announced the current restrictions on November 18th, which kicked in just two days later.