ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The GOP-controlled Minnesota Senate has rejected Gov. Tim Walz's pick for commerce commissioner.
Walz appointed Steve Kelley to the post, but the Senate refused to confirm him.
Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) released the following statement regarding her decision not to support the confirmation of Steve Kelley as Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce:
“This was not an easy decision. I deeply respect the ability of Minnesota governors to choose their own commissioners, but I also take seriously the Senate’s role in the process. That role includes not confirming commissioners when the situation warrants.”
“For me, this came down to several reasons related to lack of experience and decision-making.”
“First, he has no experience in insurance regulation – a key responsibility of his job. The role of Commerce Commissioner requires a significant amount of knowledge, skill, and experience that he simply does not have.”
“Second, his legal challenge of the Line 3 pipeline against another Minnesota government agency – the Public Utilities Commission – is a waste of state resources that jeopardizes 40,000 good-paying Minnesota jobs. Even if you don’t support Line 3, those appeals were going to be filed by outside groups and the state does not need to use its limited resources to be involved in lawsuits against itself.”
“Third, the Department of Commerce has weaponized regulations against businesses. We have heard feedback from businesses that they have been left out of discussions on issues that affect their livelihoods, that the commissioner has not engaged with them, and that they are afraid to make public statements or complaints for fear of retaliation.”
“Removing a commissioner is serious and should not be taken lightly, but in the case of Steve Kelley, the decision was necessary for the good of local businesses, the culture of the department, and the state of Minnesota.”
The rejection comes as Republicans continued to battle the Democratic governor over emergency powers he has used to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. During Friday's special session, the Senate voted to end the emergency Walz declared in March and nullify all orders he has issued. Their effort failed as the Democratic-controlled House supported Walz's move.