Gov. Tim Walz said he plans to extend his COVID-19 peacetime emergency declaration for another 30 days when lawmakers return to St. Paul Monday for a special session.
The governor announced Friday night that he has convened a special legislative session for July 13, the same day his peacetime emergency declaration is set to expire. According to Minnesota law, the governor must convene both houses of the Legislature if he wishes to extend a peacetime emergency when the Legislature is not in session.
Lawmakers were called back to St. Paul in June for an eight-day special session that cost taxpayers an estimated $108,000.
Walz said he expects lawmakers to address police reform and other leftover business from the regular session, such as a borrowing package for public infrastructure projects.
“I am asking Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature to work together on the urgent matters Minnesotans expect them to tackle this summer,” Walz said in a press release.
“Our state had a trying few months, and we need the Legislature to rise to the occasion and get things done to help Minnesotans rebuild and recover. Give me a bill to sign on police accountability and reform and let’s work together to build a stronger, more equitable economy by investing in local jobs and projects across the state,” he added.
The governor said he supports the recommendations on police reform issued by the Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous Caucus.
In a statement released Friday, House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said there has “never been a more difficult time for our state.”
“We need systemic change in policing that ensures police are accountable to the communities they serve, and we must act swiftly to help rebuild communities that suffered property damage during the civil unrest. A robust jobs and local projects bill is critically important as we endure economic challenges due to the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges in every aspect of our lives, from our health and social interactions to our jobs and schools,” she said.
One of the only things the June special session accomplished was the extension of Walz’s emergency powers.
Under current law, the governor can extend a peacetime emergency indefinitely for 30 days at a time. State law only grants the Legislature the option to cancel an emergency declaration with a majority vote from both the House and Senate.
Republican lawmakers have unsuccessfully attempted to end Walz’s peacetime emergency on four occasions, though the most recent attempt received some bipartisan support.
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