MARSHALL (KMHL) – Yesterday Gov. Tim Walz announced that he was calling lawmakers back to work for a special legislative session as he plans to extend his COVID-19 emergency powers another 30 days.
“While Minnesota has taken life-saving action, the threat of COVID-19 remains,” said Gov. Tim Walz in a press statement Wednesday. “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.”
But the governor has come under fire in recent months for continuing his COVID-19 emergency and not all lawmakers agree the governor’s power should continue.
“The House and Senate need to be involved and it’s just unfortunate the Governor is just in a position to where he would rather just take the easy way out and make these decisions on his own versus getting input from the House and Senate that may make these decisions better,” said Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls).
Dahms said early on everyone was working together and the governor was keeping the legislators informed, but after the first 4-to-6 weeks, Dahms said the “door got closed.”
Dahms’ concerns are also echoed by Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent).
Swedzinski says it’s time to get more voices involved in the state’s response to COVID-19.
“I have been saying it for months now that the best voice often times is many,” said Swedzinski. “Obviously there are folks who agree with the governor who feel he’s the only one who should be making all the decisions, but there are also a lot of folks that aren’t.”
Swedzinski added that Minnesota is a diverse state and much of the rural economy more closely resembles the Dakotas than it does the metro area’s.
“We need to be looking at ways we can be getting people back up on their feet,” said Swedzinski.
For lawmakers to strip the governor of his COVID-19 emergency powers both the House and Senate would need to vote to remove the power from him. The Republican-controlled Senate has repeatedly voted to remove Walz’s emergency powers, but those votes have not happened in the DFL-controlled House.