$216 million package to help survive Gov. Walz's latest shutdown
ST. PAUL — 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. State Rep. Nels Pierson, R-Rochester, said the relief package will help, but the best remedy would be allowing Minnesota businesses to safely re-open their doors.
“This bill is a little relief for a huge financial crisis, something I hope buys some time for our businesses that have been severely impacted by restrictions placed upon them,” Pierson said. “The most important thing is that we continue working toward safely re-opening our businesses so people can get back to doing what they love to do and earn a living. That is the only way we will regain long-term stability.”
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.
Pierson said he is waiting for confirmation of exact dollar amounts for grants plus administrative fees appropriated to counties throughout the state in the bill. He indicated preliminary estimates showed more than $3.1 million for Olmsted.
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.