Democrats say governor’s emergency powers could last until August

The motion to end Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers was four votes short of passing the House Monday.

Lorie Shaull/Flickr

Democrats said Monday that Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers will most likely continue into August.

Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, thinks both the governor and the legislature “foresee an end to the peacetime emergency sometime in the not-too-terribly distant future,” she said during a press conference Monday regarding the start of the special session.

She later indicated an end to the peacetime emergency sometime in August.

“The governor needs the authority to run vaccine clinics and testing,” in order to close the vaccination gap in communities of color, Hortman said.

The Minnesota House debated ending the emergency powers on the House floor Monday for the 21st time.

Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, D-Golden Valley, said during the debate that, as long as the emergency continues in “some form,” the state will continue to receive federal money under the SNAP program, which gives Minnesota $30-40 million per month.

“It doesn’t mean it has to be the executive emergency that was originally called — potentially, there is a possibility that this could be resolved through legislative action,” Winkler said, also indicating that he is open to compromising on some form of a peacetime emergency.

Rep. Eric Lucero, R-Dayton, said during the debate that the reason Democrats are allowing the governor to keep his powers is plain: “The justification is so Minnesota can get more money from the federal government. There is no better reason to bring this to an end,” Lucero said.

“It is flawed thinking to deem liquor stores and Planned Parenthood as essential while slamming close the doors of churches. That is flawed thinking. It is abuse of power,” Lucero said.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, noted that, by “anybody’s measure,” the science shows that the emergency is now over.

The motion to end Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers was four votes short of passing the House.

Walz has requested that his powers be extended 15 times since first declaring the peacetime emergency in March of 2020, and thus has had emergency powers for over 450 days.

“I fully expect, as soon as we leave here today, the leaders will get something done for the people of Minnesota … they are sick and tired of our lack of leadership,” Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, said during the debate.

The special session is expected to last 7-10 days, Hortman said at the press conference.

“Minnesotans can have confidence that their state government continues to grind through very challenging, important issues that affect the lives, livelihoods, and the aspirations for Minnesotans all across the state,” Winkler noted.

WATCH: