Video: Walz to seek peacetime emergency powers extensionSep 10, 2020 06:41AM ● By Editor
Watch the KARE 11 News report here
By Dana Thiede of KARE 11 News - September 9, 2020
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is calling lawmakers back to the State Capitol for a special session Sept. 11, in an effort to extend his peacetime emergency powers by 30 days.
In a prepared news release Walz says the goal is to ensure the state can continue to quickly and effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"While Minnesota has taken life-saving action, the threat of COVID-19 remains,” said Governor Walz Wednesday in a written statement. “It’s imperative that we have the tools necessary to respond to this rapidly-evolving virus quickly and decisively in order to safeguard the health and wellbeing of each and every Minnesotan.”
The Walz administration maintains Minnesota’s peacetime emergency is consistent with the ongoing national emergency declared by President Trump, and emergencies declared in every state in the U.S. that allow governors and other officials to quickly respond to rapidly evolving threats stemming from COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is unpredictable, and there is still so much that we do not know,” said Lt. Governor Flanagan. “This pandemic is not over. With the fall and winter months fast approaching, we know the next stages of this virus will continue to present a challenge, especially to underserved communities. We must be prepared to respond quickly and efficiently in order to keep all Minnesotans healthy, safe, and informed.”
The governor has come under intense fire from GOP lawmakers, led by Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. Gazelka has publicly blasted Walz, saying it is time for the legislature, a co-equal branch of government, to take charge of the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After meeting with the governor last week, Gazelka said at the very least he wants Walz to set specific benchmarks the state would have to meet in order to relinquish his special powers.
"It's going to be almost a half year, a half a year of emergency powers with no end in sight. That's why we're asking him to come up with some parameters what is the pathway out of here," Gazelka told reporters after the meeting.
The special session called for Sept. 11 will be the fourth since the regular 2020 session ended in May. Lawmakers will have an opportunity to rescind the governor's emergency powers, but it is unlikely since Democrats have control of the House.
The impending decision comes as state health officials fear a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall, coupled with a potential rise in flu cases. State infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann urged Minnesotans to take extra precautions throughout the Labor Day holiday weekend, saying small neighborhood gatherings and private parties are a growing source of coronavirus infections.
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