Lawmakers agree on COVID-19 stimulus bill but disagree on extending unemployment insurance

The bill seeks a one-time $100 million appropriation from the general fund in fiscal year 2021 for relief payments.

State Capitol Building/Minnesota Department of Administration

(The Center Square) – Lawmakers announced an apparent $216 million stimulus deal with Gov. Tim Walz, House Democrats and Senate Republicans.

The Legislature plans to take up the bill in a special session Monday.

Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, said if the deal is approved Monday, the first checks could be sent in December.

The bill seeks a one-time $100 million appropriation from the general fund in fiscal year 2021 for relief payments to restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses experiencing a drop in revenue of 30% or more because of Gov. Walz’s shutdown through Dec. 18 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The deal distinguished payouts by business size:

  • 1-20 employees: $15,000
  • 21-100 employees: $25,000
  • 101-300 employees: $35,000
  • 300-plus employees: $45,000

It also includes:

  • $14 million in cash grants through the state Economic Development department to movie theaters and large convention centers that have seen business dip by 30% or more
  • $102 million in cash grants through a program run by each county, targeted for businesses that were were affected by government-imposed restrictions.

Grant funds must be used to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills and other regular expenses.

However, Republicans and Democrats have disagreed on extending unemployment insurance.

Senate Republicans want to limit the extension at $200 million from Minnesota’s unemployment trust fund – a five-week extension – while Democrats want more than double that at 13 weeks.

“We are continuing to work through this extraordinary year using extraordinary means to ensure the most vulnerable Minnesotans receive the help they need,” said House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Lyndon Carlson, DFL–Crystal.

“This brand new COVID-19 assistance package will play an integral role in our state’s strategy to maintain the economic wellbeing of all Minnesotans. I am pleased that the Ways and Means committee was able to give this critical package of bills a thorough public hearing as we work to strike an agreement before Monday’s special session.”


Scott McClallen
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on and Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.