Frustrated Minnesotans plan rally demanding end to emergency powers

“Republicans control the Senate, so they have zero excuses not to act on the Never Again bill,” said Rep. Erik Mortensen, author of the bill.

Protesters participate in a rally to reopen schools outside the Minnesota Capitol in July. (Rebecca Brannon/Twitter)

Minnesotans plan to rally together on Monday, June 14 in support of the Never Again bill, legislation that would take away the governor’s emergency powers and his ability to unilaterally declare an emergency ever again.

Rep. Erik Mortensen, R-Shakopee, and Action 4 Liberty are promoting the rally, which is organized by activists who want Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers to be stripped from him immediately. Walz plans to extend his powers for another 30 days beginning Monday.

The Never Again bill, written by Mortensen, would take away the governor’s authority to unilaterally declare an emergency. The bill would also prevent the governor’s orders from being treated as law, and would fine or imprison the governor for violating the law.

Mortensen’s bill also spells out the Bill of Rights, “in case the courts have any question about what a governor can or cannot do,” according to an email from Mortensen’s campaign. The bill clarifies the right of citizens to keep and bear arms, travel, operate a business, worship, speak freely, and assemble.

The rally will be at 10:30 a.m. June 14 outside of the Minnesota Senate Building, which is finally open to the public after being closed for 15 months. The rally will then move to the Capitol as the special session begins.

“We are demanding the Senate pass the Never Again bill extinguishing Gov. Walz’s abusive emergency powers,” an event description says. “The voice of the people has been silenced and ignored since last year.”

“Republicans control the Senate, so they have zero excuses not to act on the Never Again bill,” Mortensen said in an email. Yet, he said, some Republicans are still “claiming their hands are tied.”

One “fake solution,” in Mortensen’s words, being backed by Senate Republicans is SF 2559, a bill that would limit the governor’s powers, but still allow him to continue distributing COVID-19 vaccines and tests. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said at a press conference last week that the bill “shows that we have a path to dramatically reduce emergency powers.”

Action 4 Liberty said Gazelka is “standing in the way of passing the most important legislation of our time” by not giving the Never Again bill a vote in the Senate.

“Gazelka must think it’s okay that Tim Walz decided to shut down our small businesses while allowing big box stores to be fully open,” said an email from Action 4 Liberty.

Walz has maintained his emergency powers for more than 15 months. When the Legislature is not in session, Walz is required to call a special session every 30 days to extend his peacetime emergency.

The special session next week must result in passing a budget to avoid a government shutdown.