Minnesota House, Senate convene for 3rd special session; Walz extends peacetime emergency

Minnesota lawmakers convened once again on Wednesday for the start of the Legislature’s third special session.

Gov. Tim Walz announced plans to convene the special session on Friday, stating the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t yet over and he intends to extend the state’s peacetime emergency for another 30 days. Walz signed an executive order Wednesday extending the peacetime emergency, noting that President Donald Trump’s national emergency remains in effect and the other 49 states have active states of emergency.

House, Senate leaders reach agreement on police reform; bonding bill remains in limbo

It’s unclear what pieces of legislation, if any, lawmakers are planning to work on during the special session. After the first special session resulted in only partisan bickering and no major legislation being passed, lawmakers were able to reach an agreement on a package of police accountability measures in the second special session.

Walz discusses Minnesota lawmakers ending the special session with no major bills passed

Passing a bonding bill was another of Walz’s main goals during the regular session and the first two special sessions, but the governor has already said lawmakers won’t be able to pass a bonding bill in August because the state is selling bonds. The Minnesota Department of Management and Budget said Tuesday that the state sold $1.2 billion in general obligation bonds and also refinanced $704 million in existing bonds, which saves the state about $105 million.

Minnesota’s peacetime emergency protects Minnesotans against evictions and wage garnishment; provides expedited procurement power for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other equipment; allows Minnesota to reopen society strategically while following the advice of public health experts; protects workers from unsafe worker conditions; requires Minnesotans to wear a face covering in certain settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and provides economic relief and stability to those impacted by the ongoing pandemic.

According to the governor’s office, if the peacetime emergency were to end, it would jeopardize over $50 million each month in federal funding.

"The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present an unprecedented and rapidly evolving challenge to our state. These executive orders helped us build hospital capacity, secure critical care and personal protective equipment for healthcare providers and launch an aggressive testing strategy," said Walz. "While these actions have slowed the spread of the virus and saved lives, it is important for us to assess the continued need for existing executive orders and rescind executive orders that are no longer necessary."

The Minnesota House and Senate both convened at noon on Wednesday.