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Walz, House Republican Caucus introduce coronavirus relief packages

Updated: Nov. 24, 2020 at 5:50 PM CST
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KEYC) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and the House Republican Caucus both announced outlines Tuesday for COVID-19 economic relief packages aimed at helping small businesses and workers across the state.

The main points of Walz’s package are to help keep businesses afloat, support workers struggling to get by and help Minnesota families keep food on the table.

“Our small businesses and the Minnesotans whose livelihoods depend on them are bearing a huge weight for the good of their entire community. As cases skyrocket and hospital capacity is pushed to the brink, our small businesses should not have to bear the financial consequences alone. We’re in this together,” said Walz. “I am committed to turning over every stone to find funding that will help make sure our businesses stay afloat, our workers are supported, and our families can put food on the table.”

To help keep small businesses afloat, Walz’s plan says it would provide direct aid to businesses through the Business Assistance Program, waive state and regulatory fees for bars, restaurants, event center, craft breweries and more and establish an eviction moratorium so small businesses can stay in their current locations.

Walz’s plan will aim to support workers who may be struggling to get by by extending unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks and provide a $500 one-time emergency payment to struggling families. In a news release, the governor’s office stated that extending unemployment benefits would help an estimated 100,000 workers whose benefits are currently scheduled to end next month.

The final goal Walz hopes to achieve with this plan is to help Minnesota families put food on the table. This would be accomplished by establishing a one-time grant to restaurants to provide food for health care workers, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities and by providing a tax credit for businesses that donate food that would otherwise spoil or be thrown away.

“COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to Minnesotans and businesses and we need to help them now,” Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove said. “Today’s package, crafted in response to requests from industry leaders and others, provides solid support to help businesses through this time and support Minnesota workers affected by the pandemic.”

A working group of House Republicans unveiled the Main Street Relief Act on Tuesday, which is a package of proposals designed to help Minnesota businesses that have been closed or limited by Gov. Tim Walz’s latest executive orders, namely Executive Order 20-99.

The package is headlined by a $400 million grant fund designed to help restaurants, bars, breweries, bowling alleys, gyms and other establishments that were ordered to close or limit their operations last week with less than 48 hours notice.

“We are in a crisis situation, and need to work together as quickly as possible to get help to the Main Street businesses that are beloved staples of our communities,” said Rep. Dave Baker (R-Willmar). “We have been hard at work over the past two weeks engaging businesses, industry groups, and legislators from both parties on how we can help as many businesses as we can, as soon as we can.”

The Main Street Relief Act includes a grant program for businesses, sales tax relief, liquor flexibility, license fee relief and the reopening of fitness centers and gyms across the state. More information on these key points is included below.

  • GRANT PROGRAM FOR BUSINESSES:
  • SALES TAX RELIEF:
  • LIQUOR FLEXIBILITY:
  • LICENSE FEE RELIEF:
  • OPEN FITNESS CENTERS AND GYMS:

Baker also urged Walz to convene meetings with all four legislative caucuses so lawmakers can move forward together on a relief package.

“We do our best work when we work together — we still haven’t seen details of the governor’s proposals, but I hope we’re able to get all four caucuses and the governor’s office working together quickly. We need to do this quickly,” Baker added.

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