Minnesota Legislature adjourns special session, Walz's emergency powers extended

Tom Hauser
Updated: November 12, 2020 06:38 PM
Created: November 12, 2020 04:35 PM

For the sixth time since the pandemic began, the Minnesota Legislature met in special session and left the emergency powers of Gov. Tim Walz intact. This time around, the Minnesota Senate didn't even vote on the issue while the Minnesota House tried a different maneuver.

Republican Representative Barb Haley, of Red Wing, introduced a bill that would have allowed lawmakers to vote on the governor's individual executive orders 30 days after he issues them, but would otherwise not change his emergency powers.

"While the governor has had new tools in his toolbox via the ability to issue executive orders, the process the governor has used has effectively taken away some of our power," Haley said while introducing her bill. "Our tools to bring our constituent concerns to St. Paul to problem solve and vet solutions have effectively been locked away for eight months. I'm bringing forward legislation today that would give the legislature these additional tools to hopefully improve communication and collaboration with the governor."

DFL House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler immediately criticized the idea.

"With all due respect, the urgency of this moment is not whether Republican politicians should have more ability to nitpick the governor's executive orders," Winkler said before being interrupted by Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt.

"Now, I appreciate Representative Winkler wants to blame Republicans for COVID," Daudt said. "This measure before the body has nothing to do with that. As Representative Haley clearly stated, this really is about the governor working with the legislature and we think that's entirely reasonable. So if Representative Winkler could keep his comments to the measure before the body, I think everyone would appreciate that."

Ultimately, the House voted 73-60 against even bringing the bill to a vote. Minutes later, the representatives also voted down a resolution to end the governor's emergency powers. The Minnesota Senate adjourned after less than two hours without taking a vote on the governor's emergency powers.

The governor is required to formally request an extension of his powers every 30 days. It would take a vote of both chambers to end them.

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