Republicans introduce bill to ‘dramatically reduce’ emergency powers

“The emergency is over ... We’re going to restore the Legislature as a coequal branch of government,” Rep. Barb Haley said.

Republicans announce a bill at the Minnesota Capitol Wednesday to end the governor's emergency powers. (Senate Republican Caucus/Facebook)

Republican leaders proposed a bill to “dramatically” limit the governor’s emergency powers immediately, stating in a press conference that the emergency has long been over.

Rep. Barb Haley, R-Red Wing, authored the bill with Gov. Tim Walz’s demands in mind: the bill allows him to continue distributing COVID-19 vaccinations and tests, but would take away all other powers he currently holds.

“The emergency is over. We’re going to provide the governor the things he needs to do to manage COVID, and we’re going to restore the Legislature as a coequal branch of government,” Haley said during a press conference.

Sixty-five percent of Minnesotans over the age of 16 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, inching closer to the 70% goal Walz has cited as his target.

Haley partnered with Sen. Jeff Howe, R-Rockville, on this bill, who said they presented the bill to Walz on Thursday of last week.

The bill does not change anything regarding the future of Chapter 12 in Minnesota statutes, which is the law that allows the governor to declare an emergency. This bill only halts Walz’s current COVID-19 emergency powers.

Haley said rewriting Chapter 12 is another scenario that must be completed eventually.

While most Republicans would like to end the emergency powers altogether, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said that “the bill we’re going to focus on shows that we have a path to dramatically reduce emergency powers,” and that they are working with House Democrats to come to an agreement.

“This bill limits the governor’s emergency powers, ensures there is a tangible offramp to the eviction moratorium, and allows us to still spend the federal financial aid that has been allocated to our state,” Howe said in a news release.

Minority Leader Kurt Daudt also spoke at the press conference, noting that the bill will not disrupt federal money coming into Minnesota, which is an issue Walz has said he is concerned about.

“I would love to say, in a spirit of compromise, that I would like for the governor to accept this bill. This reality is, I don’t care what the governor thinks,” Daudt said. “The governor hasn’t cared what the Legislature has thought for 15 months. He has not included the Legislature. He has intentionally excluded the Legislature from this response.”

Howe also noted that he has “never been treated in such a condescending manner” as when he was working with Walz this legislative session.

“Basically, anything we said was not worth his consideration,” Howe said. “The Legislature has continuously come to the table to compromise and find a solution, but we are shut out.”

Since May of 2020, the Senate has voted to end the governor’s emergency powers eight times, and House Republicans have attempted to force a vote on emergency powers 19 times.

“I believe he still intends to keep them as long as he can,” Daudt said. On June 14, Walz is expected to extend his emergency powers for another month.

Almost 500 days have passed since Walz first declared an emergency last March.

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