Walz announces plan to end Minnesota's COVID-19 peacetime emergency on July 1 | KSTP.com

Walz announces plan to end Minnesota's COVID-19 peacetime emergency on July 1

Updated: June 30, 2021 07:31 AM
Created: June 30, 2021 05:55 AM

After nearly 16 months, Gov. Tim Walz announced late Tuesday night a plan to end the COVID-19 peacetime emergency on July 1.   

After reaching a deal with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to protect monthly emergency food payments for Minnesotans—including emergency funds benefitting grocers, farmers, and truckers who work in the food industry—Walz announced the plan to end the peacetime emergency.

Following Walz's agreement with the federal government, Minnesota House Democrats introduced an amendment that allows for an orderly transition of the state's current COVID-19 emergency response. 

"The COVID-19 peacetime emergency allowed us to respond quickly and effectively to the pandemic this past year. We built testing sites from the ground up, we secured emergency personal protective equipment to protect our healthcare workers on the frontlines, and we developed a nation-leading vaccination program to get life-saving shots into the arms of Minnesotans," Walz said in a statement. "The peacetime emergency also made Minnesotans eligible for federal hunger-relief funding for 15 months. Our agreement with our federal partners to extend those benefits for Minnesotans, coupled with the thoughtful plan outlined in the House Democrats' amendment to wind down the emergency response in state government, means that we can close this chapter of our history and celebrate the brighter days ahead."

The USDA and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) determined that they will accept a joint declaration by Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Department of Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead to obtain federal approval and secure continued emergency food assistance allotments through the end of the federal public health emergency.

Walz's deal with the USDA and FNS ensures Minnesota will continue to receive $45 million in monthly emergency food assistance benefits, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, for more than 575,000 Minnesotans, even after the peacetime emergency ends, a release states. 

Walz also signed some provisions into law Tuesday that included an off-ramp for the state's evictions moratorium and extension of key waivers related to health and human services programs. 

In addition, an amendment introduced by House Democrats Tuesday bolstered the agreement Walz reached with the USDA. The amendment:

  • Allows the commissioners of health and human services to declare a public health disaster-related to COVID-19—preserving $45 million in monthly emergency SNAP benefits;
  • Continues executive orders related to state COVID-19 staffing and unemployment insurance regulations until Aug. 1;
  • Preserves the governor's authority to nimbly coordinate, allocate, distribute, and manage COVID-19 vaccination and testing without a peacetime emergency—and also his authority to declare a new peacetime emergency as necessary.

According to the release, with the assurance that emergency SNAP benefits will continue and that the state can continue an orderly wind-down of the COVID-19 response, the peacetime emergency can safely end on July 1. 

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