Today the Minnesota Senate passed legislation that would allow many small businesses to safely resume operations. The bipartisan vote of approval had support from both rural and metro legislators.
“We need to honor the work ethic and commitment to the common good that businesswomen and men put in play every day in Minnesota,” said Senator Scott Jensen (R-Chaska). “While we understand that COVID-19 is a mysterious and potentially lethal viral illness, we also acknowledge the need to strive for a balance between calculated risks and safety for all.”
“We’re bringing this bill forward for the little guy who could use a hand up right now,” said Senator Andrew Mathews (R- Milaca), who presented the bill on the Senate floor. “We’re bringing this bill forward because the legislature has partnered with the Governor for multiple weeks, and we’re asking the Governor to start partnering with Minnesota businesses that are going to be using his guidelines to open up,” he concluded.
The bill provides a framework for businesses to return to the workplace and safely resume operations if they follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines. “This isn’t just about the severity of the virus- we know it’s serious,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R- East Gull Lake). “We also have more than 600,000 people on unemployment – I’m worried about folks not having jobs to come back to. I think it’s time the governor of Minnesota let the people go. Let them go to retail stores, restaurants, and church, and let them practice safe social distancing,” Gazelka said.
The legislation would specifically allow businesses that are “closed to ingress, egress, use, and occupancy by members of the public” due to recent executive orders to resume operations if the business abides by workplace safety recommendations and guidance from CDC and MDH.
“These small businesses still have expenses, even when they’re closed, and business owners are facing financial ruin unless the government allows them to reopen now,” said Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), a co-author of the bill. “This about returning Minnesotans to work, plain and simple. The only way to begin a recovery is by getting our economic engines roaring again,” Newman concluded.
The legislation awaits a hearing by the House of Representatives.
Watch the floor debate
Watch Senator Mathews discuss his bill after it passed the Senate