The state government is gunning for The Busted Nut

On my first visit to Minnesota in March, 2007, one of the first bars I visited was The Busted Nut in Hastings. At the time I’d never heard of O’Doul’s and thought it was some local craft beer so I bought a round. I was sent right back to the bar to buy something else.

So, it was with sadness that I read about the Busted Nut’s current troubles. Alpha News reports that the state government has fined the establishment $7,000 because one employee was wearing a “non-compliant” face mask.

According to a press release from two Republican lawmakers, an undercover state employee visited The Busted Nut Bar & Grill on Aug. 22, followed by a visit from the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Aug. 27.

Following the OSHA visit, the restaurant was issued a $7,000 fine because one employee was spotted wearing a “non-compliant plastic mask,” said a press release from state Reps. Tony Jurgens and Dave Baker.

The legislators said no one at the restaurant was aware that the employee’s mask did not comply with state guidelines.

As of September 9th, 49 Minnesotans under the age of 50 had died from Covid-19. In Minneapolis alone, 56 people have been murdered this year. Yet, while Minneapolis sets to work cutting its police budget, we have people being paid by the state government to hang out in bars snooping on people’s face masks. This is not a sensible allocation of resources.

Some argue that thems is the rules, “Follow the laws and you won’t get fined” was one comment I saw. But, as the owner of a popular Saint Paul cafe explained:

“That would be wonderful if the state had given every business a mandated guidance booklet, but they didn’t. How can you give out a booklet when the state mandated guidelines aren’t even known from a Governor on a daily basis?”

Indeed, as Alpha News reports:

“This is just excessive overreach by the Walz administration and another example of kicking bar and restaurant owners when they’re down,” Jurgens said in a statement. “The Busted Nut is not a business that is thumbing its nose at COVID regulations. This is an example of a business that’s doing things the right way and trying to comply with the ever-changing rules in order to keep their employees and customers safe.”

It used to be said that ignorance of the law was no defense, but Nancy Pelosi put that one to bed.

I’ve written before about how, with its arbitrary making and enforcement of laws, the state government is creating two Minnesotas. With this overzealous enforcement of the Governor’s commands, it also risks creating one without much of a hospitality sector.

The Busted Nut’s fines total $7,625, a hefty sum for an establishment which the state government is limiting to 50% capacity. The owner plans to appeal the fine. If you would like to help out, you can donate to their gofundme here.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.