Six Democratic lawmakers broke from party leadership and voted in favor of a resolution to terminate Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers during Friday’s special session.
The governor first declared a peacetime emergency on March 13 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since each emergency declaration expires after 30 days, he has now had to call four special sessions and has extended his powers six times.
The resolution passed the Senate in a vote of 36-31, with one Democrat, Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, voting with Republicans.
“We are well, well past the ‘emergency’ portion of the outbreak,” Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said in a statement. “The founders never intended for governors to be able to keep an iron grip on emergency powers in perpetuity. It is time for the governor to give up his powers and start working in good faith with the Legislature on the best path forward.”
The Friday vote marked the fourth time the Republican-controlled Senate has voted to strip the governor of his emergency powers.
“It is time for the governor to allow the legislative branch to be engaged and part of the response to COVID-19. It is not right for a single person to be making all crucial decisions, though that is what we have had going on for six months now. This is not how our government was set up or intended to operate on a long-term basis,” added Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake.
The resolution was defeated in the House in a vote of 64-67, but five Democrats broke from party ranks and voted in favor of the motion, including Reps. Mike Sundin, DFL-Esko, Julie Sandstede, DFL-Hibbing, Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, and Dave Lislegard, DFL-Aurora.
Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, said state leaders have “seen over and over that the impact the virus has had on Greater Minnesota is completely different than the metro.”
“Unfortunately, after all these months the governor continues to treat the entire state the same. He is not listening to the concerns and the feedback from those of us on the ground in rural Minnesota,” she continued. “It’s time for the governor to give up his powers and work with the Legislature, so that we can address the unique needs of our individual communities and speed up the recovery process.”