House Republicans Will Block Major Legislation Until Walz Ends Peacetime Emergency

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The leader of the Minnesota House Republicans said Saturday that his caucus will block a bonding bill from being passed while the governor’s emergency powers remain in effect.

Republicans have made three unsuccessful attempts to end Gov. Tim Walz’s peacetime emergency declared in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The emergency declaration expires May 13 but can be extended for an additional 30 days. Walz has already extended the peacetime emergency once.

Conservative lawmakers think the governor should be working with the Legislature on his response to the pandemic.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) said the emergency declaration has awarded the governor “unprecedented power to fundamentally change our state without the input of the people.”

The peacetime emergency was first declared March 13 and provides the governor with expanded authority in handling the crisis, but Republicans now plan to block a major piece of legislation from being passed until the governor surrenders his emergency powers.

“House Republicans are ready and willing to work with the governor on the COVID response, keeping people safe, and on a bonding bill, but it’s time for the governor to work with the Legislature on our path forward,” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said in a statement (pictured above). “The governor needed his emergency powers to navigate the fast-moving crisis, but after two months of unilateral power and decision-making it’s time for him to work with us on decisions and actions regarding the future of the state.”

He said Republicans will not support a bonding bill while the governor’s emergency powers remain in effect. A bonding bill requires a three-fifths majority, or 81 votes, in order to pass and must originate in the House.

The bill, a borrowing package for public infrastructure projects, was considered the only major piece of legislation the Minnesota Legislature needed to pass this session. Since the Legislature adjourns May 18, the governor may need to call a special session before the bill can be passed.

“It’s disappointing to see the minority leader threaten to block much-needed investments in local jobs and projects in our communities,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said in response. “Gov. Walz and his administration have served the people of Minnesota well during this crisis, and his thoughtfulness is why Minnesotans overwhelmingly approve of his actions. Ending the peacetime emergency declaration before the emergency has passed would be reckless.”

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) said the state needs to “build its way out of the COVID-19 crisis, not play games with Gov. Walz’s needed emergency powers.”

“Minnesotans in every part of the state need a strong local projects and jobs bill, and DFLers in the House are committed to delivering it with no strings attached,” he added. “Workers need jobs that are safe, and we intend to create as many of them as we can.”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Minnesota House Floor” by J. Stephen Conn CC2.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

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