Republican Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Sell Minnesota’s $6.9 Million COVID-19 Morgue

A Republican lawmaker has drafted a bill that would require Minnesota to sell a facility it purchased for the storage of deceased COVID-19 patients.

Due to a projected surge in COVID-19 fatalities, the state of Minnesota spent $6.9 million in May to acquire a warehouse for the “temporary storage of human remains.” As of early June, however, the facility had yet to be used.

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Lt. Gov. Flanagan Shares Post Calling Mount Rushmore ‘Symbol of White Supremacy’

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan shared a post on social media over the Independence Day weekend calling Mount Rushmore a “symbol of white supremacy.”

“Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that’s still alive and well in society today. It’s an injustice to actively steal Indigenous people’s land, then carve the white faces of the colonizers who committed genocide,” said the post, which Flanagan shared on her Instagram.

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Walz Expected to Call Another Special Session to Extend Emergency Powers

Gov. Tim Walz is expected to call another special session by the end of the week in order to extend his peacetime emergency powers.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) alerted members and staff in a Monday email about the likely special session.

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Minnesota Board of Medical Practice Investigating Republican Senator for Speaking Out on COVID-19

State Sen. Scott Jensen (R-Chaska), a practicing physician, revealed Sunday that anonymous complaints were filed against him with the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice for his public comments on the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is one of the most important videos I’ve made and one of the hardest,” Jensen said in a video posted to Facebook. “Less than a week ago, I was notified by the Board of Medical Practice in Minnesota that I was being investigated because of public statements I had made.”

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Republicans Invoke Independence Day In Opposition to Walz’s Coronavirus Response

Gov. Tim Walz recently filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against him regarding his use of emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit was filed on May 28 by four members of the New House Republican Caucus, the Free Minnesota Coalition, and at least eight businesses across the state. The complaint argues that the governor does not have the authority to “suspend the constitutional rights of Minnesotans.”

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Walz Asks Federal Government to Help Twin Cities Rebuild from $500M Worth of Rioting Damage

Gov. Tim Walz has requested federal financial assistance to help the Twin Cities recover from more than $500 million worth of damage caused by rioting.

In a press release, Walz’s office said nearly 1,500 Twin Cities businesses were vandalized, burned, or looted during the late May riots, with current estimates of the damage exceeding $500 million.

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GOP State Senators Ask Minnesota Historical Society to Return Columbus Statue to Capitol

Two Republican state senators asked the Minnesota Historical Society to repair and restore a Christopher Columbus statue that was torn down outside the Minnesota Capitol three weeks ago.

Although the incident took place in broad daylight and was recorded by countless news stations and reporters, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said last week the investigation remains ongoing.

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Walz Says Statewide Mask Mandate Is ‘On the Table’

Gov. Tim Walz said a statewide mask mandate to help curb the spread of COVID-19 is “on the table” during a Monday press conference.

According to Walz, Republican governors who participated in a Monday phone call with Vice President Mike Pence were also “exploring the idea.”

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‘Train Wreck’ Special Session Cost Estimated $108,000

The Minnesota Legislature’s recent special session ended with no major accomplishments, but the eight-day session will still cost taxpayers an estimated $108,000.

The special session concluded on June 20 after Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in the House failed to reach an agreement on police reform legislation, the allocation of federal coronavirus relief funds, and other leftover business from the regular session, such as a borrowing package for public infrastructure projects.

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State Senators to Hold Oversight Hearings on Handling of Minneapolis Riots, Ask DOJ to Investigate Police

Three Republican state senators called on U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and the Department of Justice to investigate the Minneapolis Police Department and its response to recent unrest in the city.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) announced plans to hold a series of legislative oversight hearings beginning July 1 on state and local responses to the riots.

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Two Weeks Later, Investigation Into Toppling of Minnesota’s Christopher Columbus Statue Still Ongoing

It’s been two weeks since a Christopher Columbus statue was toppled outside the Minnesota Capitol, but the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said the investigation remains ongoing.

A spokesperson for the agency told KSTP chief political reporter Tom Hauser that the “investigation continues as the [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension] works to identify other participants in the incident, beyond the leader.”

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Minnesota Ends ‘Train Wreck’ Special Session With No Deal on Policing, Bonding Bill

Minnesota legislative leaders traded barbs Saturday after a special session collapsed with no deal on revamping policing following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a session that one group called “a train wreck.”

The two sides may be back at it in another special session next month.

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Republicans Say Gov. Walz Has Failed to Provide Legal Justification for Coronavirus Shutdown

Republican lawmakers who sued Gov. Tim Walz said Friday that he has failed to provide legal justification for his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are winning on this issue, and Gov. Walz knows it,” said Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal), one of 13 Republican lawmakers who joined a lawsuit against Walz over his use of emergency powers during the pandemic.

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Minnesota Waives Absentee Ballot Witness Signature Requirement

Minnesota will waive its witness requirements for absentee ballots for the statewide primary election in August under the settlement of two lawsuits sparked by the health threat from the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuits were filed by political arms of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota and the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans. A Ramsey County judge signed off on the consent decree with the retirees Wednesday while a federal judge scheduled a hearing for Thursday on the league’s case.

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Nine More Lawmakers Join Lawsuit Against Gov. Walz Over Use of Emergency Powers

Nine more Republican lawmakers have joined a lawsuit against Gov. Tim Walz regarding his use of emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Eden Prairie School Board Member Criticizes ‘Unacceptable’ Lack of Direction from Walz Admin on Upcoming School Year

An Eden Prairie School Board member broke his silence Monday after learning that the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) won’t be releasing state guidance on the upcoming academic year until July 27.

Three scenarios are possible for the 2020-21 school year, including continued distance learning, the resumption of in-person instruction, or a mix of the two.

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Resolution to End Walz’s Peacetime Emergency Fails to Pass, But Receives Bipartisan Support

Yet another resolution to end Gov. Tim Walz’s peacetime emergency declaration was rejected Friday, but this time the proposal received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

The resolution passed the Republican-controlled Senate in a vote of 38-29, with three Democratic senators joining Republicans in voting to end the governor’s emergency powers, which first took effect March 13 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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DFL Lawmaker Wants Portrait of Lincoln Removed from Minnesota House Chamber

A DFL lawmaker revealed on Twitter this week that she’s “tried a bunch of times” to get a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln removed from the Minnesota House chamber.

State Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL-New Brighton) said it’s “hard to look at” House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) when she’s “standing in front of Lincoln.”

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After Protesters Tear Down Columbus Statue, Minnesota Lt. Governor Welcomes Removal

The protesters and activists who tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus outside the Minnesota Capitol Wednesday faced virtually no resistance from state leaders or law enforcement.

In fact, after the statue was toppled over, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said Minnesota “is long overdue for a hard look at the symbols, statues, and icons that were created without the input of many of our communities.”

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Minnesota Hasn’t Used $6.9 Million Facility It Bought to Store Deceased Coronavirus Patients

Due to a projected surge in coronavirus fatalities, the state of Minnesota spent $6.9 million to acquire a warehouse for the “temporary storage of human remains,” but the facility has so far gone unused.

“What’s contemplated by the purchase is to buy a building where we can properly handle with dignity and respect and safety the bodies of Minnesotans who may fall victim to the coronavirus,” Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly said during a press conference in early May.

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Growing Support to ‘Abolish Police’ Among Minneapolis Progressives

George Floyd’s death has given new life to a leftist movement to abolish the police, an idea with broad support among the Minneapolis City Council and the progressive wing of the DFL Party.

Just a day after Floyd’s death, state Rep. Aisha Gomez (DFL-Minneapolis) released a nearly 500-word statement on “why we talk about police abolition.”

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Conservative Journalist Banned from Gov. Walz’s Press Briefings Without Explanation

A conservative journalist has sued Gov. Tim Walz’s administration after he was barred from participating in the governor’s daily press briefings on the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the lawsuit, Scott Johnson, an attorney and writer for PowerLine, was allowed to participate in the daily briefings until April 27, when he was suddenly “excluded from all future daily briefings without explanation.”

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DFL Lawmakers Want State and Federal Aid to Rebuild Minneapolis

DFL lawmakers want the state and federal governments to chip in to help repair the estimated $55 million in damage caused to Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and the Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous Caucus called for “immediate legislative funding for Minneapolis and St. Paul rebuilding efforts” in a joint statement.

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Walz Condemns House DFL Leader for Falsely Claiming Truck Driver at Center of 35W Incident Was ‘White Supremacist’

Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) falsely claimed that the truck driver at the center of Sunday’s frightening incident on I-35W was a “white supremacist.”

State officials said the driver, who has been identified as 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, might not have realized that the interstates had been shut down in an effort to quell unrest in the Twin Cities. Vechirko was arrested on suspicion of assault and remains jailed, but Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Monday that he didn’t seem to be acting intentionally.

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Minneapolis Mayor Calls for Charges Against Officer in George Floyd Case

Mayor Jacob Frey called on the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office to pursue charges against a Minneapolis police officer involved in a viral incident that led to the death of George Floyd.

The global community erupted in outrage after video showed a Minneapolis officer, who has been identified in some reports as Derek Chauvin, pressing his knee into the neck of a handcuffed Floyd, who repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.

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Minnesota’s Twin Cities Mayors Don’t Want to Let Churches Reopen, Archbishop Hits Back

The mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, both Democrats, said in a recent statement that they want churches in their cities to continue to “hold services remotely.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter issued a join statement Saturday after Gov. Tim Walz announced he would allow churches to resume in-person worship.

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Senator Warns of ‘Major Crisis’ in Minnesota Nursing Homes, Says No Indication Trend Is Reversing

A state senator warned of a “major crisis” in Minnesota’s long-term care facilities in a letter sent last week to Gov. Tim Walz.

State Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point), chair of the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee, applauded the governor for releasing a “five-point plan” earlier this month on addressing the crisis, but said she has seen “few indicators the trend is reversing.”

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Minnesota to ‘Allow’ Churches to Reopen After Faith Leaders Defy Governor’s Orders

Gov. Tim Walz announced Saturday that he would lift his restrictions on religious services and allow all places of worship to open for larger groups beginning Wednesday.

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Minnesota Reports 8.1 Percent Unemployment Rate for April

Minnesota’s unemployment rate increased to 8.1 percent in April, the first full month impacted by coronavirus restrictions.

Between March and April, the state’s unemployment rate jumped from 2.9 percent to 8.1 percent. Nationally, the unemployment rate rose from 4.4 percent in March to 14.7 percent in April.

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Minnesota State Fair Canceled for First Time in More Than 70 Years

The general manager of the Minnesota State Fair announced Friday morning that the annual gathering will be canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve been working hard and doing our very best with preparations for the 2020 State Fair. The picture was cloudy in March, but things have cleared up considerably since then. Right now is the time of year when things need to really take off if we’re going to have a fair, but we can see that we’re out of runway and can’t get off the ground. There will be no State Fair this year,” General Manager Jerry Hammer said in a statement.

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Business Groups Call Walz’s Plan for Outdoor Dining Only ‘Disastrous Setback’

Minnesota business leaders have said they were blindsided by Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement that bars and restaurants will be allowed to resume only outdoor dining on June 1.

Under new guidelines announced Wednesday, bars and restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining on June 1 and must limit seating to no more than 50 people. Salons, barbershops, and other personal care services can reopen June 1, but must limit capacity to 25 percent of the building’s maximum occupancy. Like bars and restaurants, appointments are required and no walk-ins are allowed.

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After Backing Alleged Domestic Abuser Keith Ellison, Minnesota Dems Say State Rep Is ‘Trivializing’ Domestic Abuse

The Minnesota DFL Party, which supported accused domestic abuser Keith Ellison in his run for attorney general, criticized a Republican lawmaker Thursday for “trivializing the severity of domestic abuse.”

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Republicans Criticize ‘Alarming’ Interpretation of Executive Authority in Letter to Walz and Ellison

The Senate Republican Caucus expressed concern over the governor’s “alarming” interpretation of executive authority in a letter sent this week to Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison.

“Your interpretation of the scope of the Governor’s authority under Minnesota Statutes, section 12.45, is incorrect and inconsistent with legislative intent and with a more measured reading of the law. Most importantly, it is an infringement on the Legislature’s fundamental and exclusive authority to define and prescribe the punishment for a crime,” states the letter.

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Mayor Calls on Walz to Immediately Reopen Greater Minnesota Businesses

A mayor in Greater Minnesota called for immediately reopening businesses in his region in a letter sent Monday to Gov. Tim Walz.

Cambridge Mayor James Godfrey pointed to the “significant difference” in the spread of the coronavirus in rural Minnesota compared to the Metro area. Cambridge is located in Isanti County, which had just 20 confirmed cases and zero deaths as of Wednesday.

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Minnesota Senate Bill Would Require Governor to Seek Legislative Approval for Extending Future Peacetime Emergencies

The Minnesota Senate passed a bill last week that would require the governor to obtain legislative approval before extending any future peacetime emergencies.

The bill, authored by Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound), passed Friday in a vote of 36-31, but failed to advance in the DFL-controlled House before the legislative session expired Sunday night.

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Keith Ellison Sues Minnesota Restaurant Owner Who Planned to Open Early, Threatens $150,000 in Fines

Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Sunday night that his office has sued a Minnesota restaurant owner who planned to reopen for business Monday.

Kris Schiffler, owner of Shady’s Bar and Grill, planned on reopening his six locations for dine-in business Monday, two weeks earlier than the June 1 reopening date set by the state. He told one local outlet that he received a call from Ellison’s office Friday threatening $25,000 in fines per location, which would amount to $150,000 in total.

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Two More Rural Minnesota Cities Ask Walz to Reopen

Two more rural Minnesota cities passed resolutions last week asking Gov. Tim Walz to allow all businesses to reopen.

According to the Grand Forks Herald, the Roseau City Council unanimously approved of a resolution during its Monday meeting that asks the governor to lift restrictions on small businesses. Roseau Mayor Jeff Pelowski said in a letter to Walz that his city is “dealing with several inequities that need to be addressed.”

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Minnesota to Spend $6.9 Million on Warehouse Facility for Storing Dead Bodies

The state of Minnesota plans to spend $6.9 million to acquire a warehouse facility for the “temporary storage of human remains.”

The funds will come from the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund and was recommended for approval by Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans.

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Republicans Move to Suspend Walz’s Six-Figure Salary Until Shutdown Ends

A Republican lawmaker put forward an amendment Thursday that would suspend Gov. Tim Walz’s salary during the course of his peacetime emergency declaration.

The move is the latest escalation in a battle between Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the best course of action in addressing the coronavirus pandemic. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) announced last weekend that he would block a public works bill from being passed until Walz agreed to relinquish his emergency powers.

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Minnesota Business Owners Call for Reopening Economy During Press Conference at the Capitol

Several small business owners called for reopening the economy during a Monday press conference at the Minnesota Capitol.

“We desire to honor our God, and our government and governor. We think we can do both. But we have no idea how to get a plan approved, to whom to submit it, or if anyone needs to or will consider it. The church needs to gather, we are more the church when we gather than at any other time. Please, Gov. Walz, help us by providing clear ways for plans to be approved and for us to meet,” said Rory Martin, pastor of the Liberty Baptist Church in Eden Prairie.

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80 Percent of Minnesota Craft Breweries Say They’ll Be Closed in Six Months if Shutdown Continues

A new report indicates that the coronavirus pandemic could wipe out more than half of Minnesota’s craft breweries.

“With the closure period extended, breweries continue to see a decline in revenues despite their ability to sell curbside and delivery. The biggest hurdles to continued revenue are a lack of off-sale options as well as a drop in orders from distributors and retailers given the inability for bars and restaurants to serve draught beer,” states an April 26 report from the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild.

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House Republicans Will Block Major Legislation Until Walz Ends Peacetime Emergency

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.

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Protesters in Vehicles Clog Streets Outside Minnesota Capitol in Opposition to Stay at Home Order

Protesters clogged the streets with their vehicles outside the Minnesota Capitol Saturday afternoon in protest of Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order.

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Vice President Pence Addresses Criticism for Not Wearing Mask at Mayo

Vice President Mike Pence visited the world-renowned Mayo Clinic Tuesday to discuss its fight against the coronavirus, but the media obsessed over the fact that he wasn’t wearing a mask.

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