Republican lawmakers said they appreciate Gov. Tim Walz’s leadership in responding to the coronavirus outbreak, but think his executive order closing most private businesses is “an overreach that will be devastating.”
Walz issued an executive order Monday night that ordered the closure of places of “public accommodation and amusement.” The order applies to bars, restaurants, gyms, museums, theaters, and coffee shops, but pickup and delivery services are still permitted.
Several Republicans are now urging the governor to reconsider his executive order, which they believe could have a devastating impact on the economy.
“I sincerely, sincerely hope the governor will reconsider his decision to close down most private businesses – including, but definitely not limited to, bars and restaurants. These small businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy,” Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes) said in a statement.
“Many of them have high overhead and low margins. Ordering them to close, even for two weeks, will have a disastrous effect not just on our economy, but on thousands of hourly wage earners and small business owners,” he added.
Walz’s order took effect Tuesday evening and will remain in place through March 27. Sen. Jason Rarick (R-Pine City) said the decision to close down private businesses “seems to aggressive.”
“This course of action was not agreed upon by both legislative bodies and the governor’s office. He holds executive powers in times of emergency, but this decision directly and deeply impacts the lives of business owners and employees. I still believe people can be trusted to do what is best without government dictating every step that must be taken,” he continued.
The governor issued another executive order Monday night that temporarily loosens the state’s unemployment requirements to ensure that workers who are laid off can immediately receive benefits.
“Unilateral decisions rule out options for businesses and owners to make satisfactory adjustments on their own. The Legislature should have bipartisan input into executive decisions when they impact the lives of so many people. If this is limited to just ten days, perhaps the majority of small businesses could hang on and survive. If this drags on for weeks or months, I wonder if these actions will cause lasting damage,” Sen. Andrew Mathews (R-Princeton) said in response to Walz’s executive order.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Minnesota had 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has tested 2,336 patients. The Minnesota Legislature announced Monday that it will be meeting on as needed basis for the next 30 days and canceled all scheduled floor sessions and committee meetings.
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