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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sondra Erickson (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Governor Walz announced updated restrictions for businesses and others on Wednesday afternoon.

Once again, the Governor’s decisions are simply not following the data. Gyms and fitness centers were not sources of transmission prior to their closure, even at 50 percent capacity, but are being restricted to 25 percent. According to the Minnesota Department of Health’s own data, bars and restaurants are linked to less than one percent of cases, but they are being forced to remain closed through January 10. There are no documented cases linked to pool areas at gyms or hotels, but pools will remain closed.

Here are the details to the updated restrictions:

  • Social gatherings – Expanded slightly; limited to two households with no more than 10 ppl. Outdoor, no more than three households and 15 people. 
  • Gyms/fitness centers - 25% capacity up to 100 patrons. Expanding physical space to 12 feet. Masks at all times. No group classes until January 4th. Pools closed. Showers closed. Locker rooms can be used as long as 6 ft maintained. 
  • Bars/Restaurants - extending closure for dine-in until January 10. Outdoor dining will be allowed until 10PM, no more than 4 people per table and 6 feet apart.
  • Outdoor entertainment - Allowed to open with limited capacity of up to 25%. 
  • Sports - January 4th youth sports can resume practice, but no games and no date set on when games can resume.
  • Education – In person classes for elementary students may begin on a rolling basis starting January 4th through January 18th. Schools can make decisions locally and education staff will be tested every other week. Families may choose to continue distance learning.

This executive order is just the latest example of the need to end the Governor’s peacetime emergency powers so that the legislature and Minnesota citizens have a say in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Approves Business Relief Legislation

The Minnesota House of Representatives approved a $216 million business relief package late Monday evening, sending to the Governor's desk a bill to help small businesses and workers impacted by Governor Walz's latest restrictions on businesses.

This legislation will help businesses and workers impacted by the governor's shutdown and ideally will serve as a bridge until the federal government passes additional relief. While this vote is a step in the right direction and will help local businesses stay open and keep our neighbors and loved ones employed, it will not cover all the losses incurred by Governor Walz’s shutdown. Stores, restaurants, fitness centers, and others that have been closed do not want a handout, they want to be able to open and safely serve their customers. I will continue working to make that a reality.

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 (DOR) to restaurants, bars, gyms, bowling alleys, and other businesses who have seen losses of more than 30% compared to last year.
  • The second category is approximately $14 million administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for movie theaters and large convention centers, and
  • The third 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 who receive grants from the DOR are not precluded from receiving county-based grants.

Staying in Touch

Please continue to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Have a good day,

Sondra

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