ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Senate has voted to terminate the emergency powers that Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vote was 39-29. Republicans contend Walz has used those powers to govern unchecked, causing economic harm without achieving better results than states with looser restrictions. But the vote was largely symbolic, given that House Speaker Melissa Hortman said her chamber, where Democrats have a comfortable majority, would reject a similar attempt.
Meanwhile, health officials say they’re on alert after coronavirus cases in the state increased for the third straight day, following four straight days of declines.
Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) issued the following statement about her vote to end the Governor's emergency powers:
“When the novel Coronavirus reached our shores, we didn’t have much information about it. It was perfectly reasonable for the governor to institute emergency powers in order to respond quickly. But as time has passed, we have learned much about the virus and Minnesotans have stepped up. We know how to social distance. We flattened the curve. Our hospitals and health care providers are prepared. We have made tens of thousands of masks. Our businesses know how to open safely, and their customers will return when they feel ready. There is no more emergency for the general public."
“A number of public health experts warn that we could see a resurgence of COVID cases this fall. We certainly hope not, but if that happens then it might be appropriate to declare a new peacetime emergency to manage our response. But the founders never, ever intended for emergency powers to run on and on, seemingly in perpetuity. It is time for the governor to end his emergency powers so the government can function with the checks and balances the founders intended.”