The Minnesota Senate has approved a $216 million emergency relief bill to assist the state’s small businesses struggling during Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 shutdowns.
The bill would also extend unemployment benefits for Minnesotans for 13 additional weeks.
Although the bill passed Dec. 14 has been heralded as a bipartisan effort, Senate Democrats are expressing concerns that it doesn’t provide enough protections for Minnesota residents and businesses.
“This is a bipartisan breakthrough that gets relief out as fast as possible to the people who need it most,” Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, said in a statement.
Pratt, chairman of the Senate Jobs Committee, authored the bill.
“Minnesotans are barely surviving due to the governor’s executive order,” he continued. “This relief will be a big help, but it’s not a long-term solution.
“COVID is serious, and Minnesotans should treat it that way. But we ultimately have to get back to a point where we can end the closures and allow businesses to open up again, safely and smartly,” Pratt said.
The bill provides direct relief payments totaling $88 million for businesses directly affected by Walz’s executive order to limit public gatherings, including bars, restaurants and gyms. These businesses are not required to apply for the government assistance.
The $88 million will be divided according to the following schedule:
- Businesses that are down 30% in revenue and have 0-20 employees will receive $15,000
- Businesses with 21-100 employees will receive $25,000
- Businesses with 101-300 employees will receive $35,000
- Businesses with more than 300 employees will receive $45,000
An additional $14 million is approved for such businesses as movie theaters and convention centers. An additional $114 million in relief grants will be distributed to...