Minnesota Legislature Also Extends Unemployment Benefits
The Minnesota legislature passed a $216 million aid package for hospitality businesses that have been harmed by Governor Walz’s closure orders. As legislators debated the aid package, several questioned if the Governor would renew his current closure order and worsening the problem as they voted to allocate this large amount of aid. Walz is expected to decide on the closure orders soon. On behalf of our hospitality members who have been significantly harmed by these closure orders, NFIB supported this relief. The Governor has committed to sign the bill.
Under the bill authored by Sen. Eric Pratt (Prior Lake) and Rep. Tim Mahoney (St. Paul), $88 million will be given by the state directly to businesses that qualify. Most of those businesses are restaurants and bars. However, fitness centers, bowling alleys, breweries and distilleries can also qualify. They must have suffered a 30% loss in business from last year, which is not a difficult standard for these beleaguered businesses to meet. The aid is allocated by number of employees based on the schedule below:
A qualified business with zero employees— $10,000
1 to 20 employees— $15,000
21 to 100 employees– $25,000
101 to 300 employees— $35,000
More than 300 employees— $45,000
The money must be allocated by March 15th of 2021.
The agreement also allocated $114 million to counties to help local hospitality businesses. The counties also need to grant this money by March 15th of 2021. Additionally, $14 million was allocated for movie theaters and convention centers that have been forced to close.
The bill also extended unemployment insurance benefits for 13 weeks starting on December 27th and NFIB played a significant role in limiting the expansion and cost of those benefits. The extension has a hard end-date of April 10th, 2021 and claimants can only collect the state paid benefits if they do not qualify for the anticipated federal pandemic emergency benefits or any other federal unemployment benefit program connected to the Federal Cares Act. If the Federal government does act on extended benefits it will significantly mitigate the cost of Minnesota’s extensions.