The Minnesota Senate today overwhelmingly approved a $216 million emergency relief bill to help small businesses affected by Gov. Tim Walz’s most recent executive order. The goal of the relief package is speed: businesses are struggling under the weight of the governor’s restrictions, and need assistance as fast as possible. Under the agreement, the first relief checks could be mailed by the end of the month. The bill is the culmination of more than a month of bipartisan negotiations between the House, Senate, and governor’s office.
“This is a bipartisan breakthrough that gets relief out as fast as possible to the people who need it most,” said Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), the Senate Jobs Committee chairman who authored the bill. “Minnesotans are barely surviving due to the governor’s executive order. 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.”
The bill provides emergency assistance in three tiers:
- Direct relief payments: $88 million is allocated for businesses in industries that were directly impacted by the executive order, including bars, restaurants, and gyms. These businesses will receive a check mailed directly to them, with no need to apply. Assistance will be broken down as follows:
- Businesses that are down 30% in revenue and have 0-20 employees will receive a $15k check
- Businesses with 21-100 employees will receive $25k
- Businesses with 101-300 employees will receive $35k
- Business with more than 300 employees will receive $45k
- Business Grants: $14 million is approved for small business relief grants available through DEED. These grants are aimed at businesses like movie theaters and convention centers
- County-distributed relief: $114 million in relief grants will be distributed to counties based on a per capita formula. Counties will then allocate that money to businesses that were directly or indirectly impacted by the executive order.
All relief funds must be used to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar expenses that occur in the regular course of business. Funding must be distributed by March 15. In addition, the bill extends unemployment insurance benefits for 13 weeks, providing a lifeline for the Minnesotans who, by no fault of their own, cannot go to work.