Governor Tim Walz extended Minnesota’s COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency for the sixth time after a heated, divided vote in the special legislative session.
Walz stated in a press release that the coronavirus is still a danger to Minnesotans.
“While Minnesota has taken life-saving action, the threat of COVID-19 remains. 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.”
In the official order, Walz stated that “local resources are inadequate to address the threat.” The governor didn’t specify what those resources were.
“COVID-19 is unpredictable, and there is still so much that we do not know. 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.”
During the fourth special session, party lines were divided over extending the Peacetime Emergency. The Republican-controlled Senate called for an end to the emergency. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL)-controlled House supported Walz’s motion to extend it. The vote was 67-64.
Proponents of the extension relied largely on future unknowns that may result from ending the state of emergency. They stated that Minnesotans shouldn’t have to return to April pandemic numbers. Current death rates share the same range as data from mid-April – a lower number than the state endured at the end of April and through May.
“We must follow the data and the science. We cannot afford to make a misstep in any capacity in regard to our response to this pandemic,” said Representative Hunter Cantrell (DFL-MN-56A). “I’m disappointed that the Governor’s peacetime emergency has been so heavily politicized and mischaracterized as a usurpation of power, when in reality – as I have said before – the federal government declared a national emergency that is still in effect.”
Opponents of the extension asked Walz and supporters for definitive standards on rescinding orders and ceasing the state of emergency. They criticized leaders for continually moving the standards defining pandemic improvement.
“Unfortunately, today there is a lack of clarity. And where there is a lack of clarity, there is a lack of leadership. There is an inability to clarify clear, objective benchmarks when we can return to normal,” stated Representative Eric Lucero (R-MN-30B). “It’s by design that Governor Walz has not had clarity. When can we return to our constitutionally-required separation of powers? What are the thresholds that we’re waiting for?”
The pandemic now has a 92 percent recovery rate in Minnesota.
This latest extension is set to expire October 12, unless terminated by a Legislature majority vote.
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