Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, sent a letter to Gov. Tim Walz on Friday asking him to end the state of emergency in Minnesota.
Gazelka has attempted multiple times to remove Gov. Walz’s emergency powers in the Legislature, but has been unsuccessful. He has now sent a letter to Walz suggesting that the state of emergency be ended. The governor has extended his emergency powers five times.
“When you ordered places of public accommodation to close and directed Minnesotans to stay home, we were told that we could not stop the virus, but needed to buy enough time to ‘flatten the curve’ and allow the health care system to accommodate a projected spike in cases,” says Gazelka’s letter.
“Your orders have affected almost every facet of Minnesotans’ lives, including schools, nursing homes, public services, housing, jobs, government, and recreation. While the overall impact of these actions are immeasurable, it’s important to highlight some compelling numbers,” the letter continues.
The letter then cites various figures related to COVID-19, including Walz’s 75 executive orders (now 76) issued since the start of the pandemic, high unemployment figures resulting from a “shuttered economy,” and the $2.34 billion budget deficit the state now faces.
The letter also points out that the Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 modeling initially projected 74,000 deaths in Minnesota, compared to the state’s current COVID-19 death total of 1,814.
“Now, over 165 days later, Minnesotans still have no clearer picture of when this ’emergency’ will end. Our state has beat all COVID modeling expectations and deserves to be told when the excessive use of executive authority will cease,” states the letter. “What criteria will be used in determining when the COVID-19 peacetime emergency declaration will be rescinded?”
“In the spirit of collaboration,” Gazelka suggested using metrics such as vaccine availability, testing capacity, availability of personal protective equipment and ICU beds, and the number of new cases.
“Regardless of which of these your experts agree upon, I strongly suggest you identify and communicate to all Minnesotans the criteria that will be used in determining when we are no longer under a peacetime emergency declaration,” the letter concludes. “We have flattened the curve, no Minnesotan has been denied necessary medical treatment, and, thankfully, our hospitals have not needed to use their surge capacity. There is no longer an emergency.”