Updated: June 02, 2021 07:12 PM
Created: June 02, 2021 06:17 PM
With little news coming out of budget talks four weeks before Minnesota's state government could shut down, lawmakers and the governor skirmished over emergency powers on Wednesday.
"The time for ending emergency powers is passed," Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said at a State Capitol news conference. "It passed a long time ago."
Daudt and other Republican leaders were touting a compromise they say they offered Gov. Tim Walz that would allow him to maintain some emergency authority, but formally end his emergency powers.
"We did present it to him but he says it's not enough," Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said. "You can go to a Twins game and most people don't wear a mask. The hospitals don't have hardly anybody in there that are in there because of COVID. You cannot say the emergency is not over. It's over."
Republicans offered a short bill that allows the governor to keep authority over COVID-19 testing and vaccinations by having the state declare a "public health disaster." They say such a declaration would allow the state to continue receiving federal funds for state nutrition programs during the pandemic.
"It allows the state to declare a public health disaster and that's what we need to secure the federal money coming in," says House author Rep. Barb Haley, R-Red Wing.
Walz released a statement responding to the proposal through his spokesman, Teddy Tschann, "Unfortunately, the proposal put forward by Minnesota Republicans is not a serious plan – it would slow down vaccination, jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in hunger relief, and end the eviction moratorium overnight with no plan to provide an off ramp for renters or landlords as we come out of the pandemic."
Republicans were not surprised by the governor's response because they say he'd already dismissed it in a face-to-face meeting.
"I've never been treated in such a condescending manner," said Sen. Jeff Howe, R-Rockville. "Basically, anything we said was not worth his consideration."
Daudt was even more to the point.
"The reality is I don't care what the governor thinks," he told reporters. "The governor hasn't cared what the legislature has thought for 15 months."
The governor and lawmakers have until June 30 to reach a budget deal or face at least a partial state government shutdown.
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