Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday that he has joined a seven-state compact that will work in “close coordination” on plans to “reopen the economy in the Midwest region.”
Joining Walz in the Midwest alliance are the governors of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. The governors said their “economies are all reliant on each other” and so they “must work together to safely reopen them” in a joint statement released last week.
“Today, we are announcing that Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky will work in close coordination to reopen our economies in a way that prioritizes our workers’ health. We look forward to working with experts and taking a fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way that protects families from the spread of COVID-19,” said the statement.
According to the statement, the governors will examine “four factors” in determining when to reopen the economy, including sustained control of the rate of new COVID-19 infections, increased testing and tracing capabilities, sufficient health care capacity, and plans for social distancing in the workplace.
“Phasing in sectors of our economy will be most effective when we work together as a region. This doesn’t mean our economy will reopen all at once, or that every state will take the same steps at the same time. But close coordination will ensure we get this right,” the statement continued.
Some Republican lawmakers, however, think Gov. Walz is shirking his responsibility and handing over control of the state’s economy to a group of governors who weren’t elected by Minnesotans.
“He is ceding his responsibility in order to avoid political fallout,” Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) said in a statement. “Notably, we are not joining states who share our southern and western borders, and instead selected states who are facing completely different conditions than Minnesota.”
Munson said Minnesota has done a far better job of flattening the curve than the other states in the alliance, but will now be forced to “factor in the conditions of Detroit and Chicago when determining when we should open.”
“Minnesotans elected a governor and a Legislature. Minnesotans did not elect six governors who do not live in Minnesota. It is time the Legislature take back its power. The members of the Minnesota House and Senate were elected to be the diverse body representing the interests of the people. These six governors were not,” he continued.
The governors of Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota reportedly declined to join the regional pact.
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) expressed some concerns with the new Midwest coalition and said “Minnesotans need to have a voice in this process as well.”
“Just as each state is unique, we have diverse geographic regions and industries who need a Minnesota plan to reopen our economy and get Minnesotans back to work,” said Daudt. “We need to include Minnesotans in these decisions, not just a few commissioners or a multi-state task force.”
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