ST. PAUL – Rep. Shane Mekeland, R-Clear Lake, is among more than 50 Republican lawmakers urging Gov. Tim Walz and state agencies to improve their relations with businesses amid efforts to combat COVID-19.
Mekeland and fellow House Republicans filed the request through a letter to Walz on Monday. It follows a letter the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Labor and Industry issued last week informing hospitality industry leaders of stepped-up state compliance checks that could result in fines, forced closure loss of liquor license, workplace investigations, and more.
“Our state government is supposed to serve its people, but recent actions from the governor and his agencies seem more geared toward molding citizens into compliance and that is very concerning to me,” Mekeland said. “Let’s ease up on Minnesotans who are desperately trying to overcome the governor’s severe restrictions to make an honest living in this tough economy. If you really want to crack down, crack down on the lawlessness that has been allowed to continue in the metro area.”
According to estimates from Hospitality Minnesota, just 2.3% of total state cases have been traced back to restaurants and bars, and there have been just over two dozen restaurants specifically identified as sources of outbreaks.
Walz previously has stated that enforcement of state mandates and regulations were to be education in nature rather than punitive. The letter urges Walz to “reassess the tone and approach your agencies are taking” with restaurants and bars, and urges state agencies to be partners rather than adversaries in efforts to combat COVID-19.