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House debates — but doesn’t vote to end — governor’s peacetime emergency order

Keeping a safe social distance, Rep. Eric Lucero, center, has his photo taken in front of a banner displayed before the House convened for the April 14 floor session. Photo by Paul Battaglia

When Gov. Tim Walz issued his initial peacetime emergency executive order March 13, many lawmakers expressed support for the move. However, following the governor’s recent 30-day extension of the order, some of that support has waned.

During Tuesday’s House Floor session, Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) each unsuccessfully introduced resolutions to terminate Walz’s extended peacetime emergency declaration.

Referencing the economic impacts of the social distancing orders, Drazkowski said, “We need to remove the government from the neck of our economy and give the people their freedom back.”  

Typically, a resolution would be referred to the House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee for a hearing, and potentially passed back to the House Floor for the second and third readings. Both Drazkowski and Daudt moved to suspend the rules and asked to have a debate and vote on their resolutions right away. Both motions were unsuccessful and each resolution was sent to the rules committee.

House debates resolution to terminate Minnesota's peacetime emergency 4/14/20

Daudt opposed Drazkowski’s motion, and resolution, cautioning that it repealed too many of the Walz executive orders too quickly. Offering his resolution after Drazkowski’s motion was defeated, Daudt explained it would end the peacetime emergency while still leaving some of the governor’s other orders in place.  

“I don't want anybody to misinterpret anything that I'm saying as being critical of the governor,” Daudt said. “…This governor didn't ask for this. The problem for us is that he's acting on information that we most often don't have. And I think the biggest and most important part of ending this emergency declaration is that we need the Legislature to be brought back up to its co-equal branch of government status.”

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) opposed both resolutions, saying the measures in place have been working to mitigate the impacts of the disease on Minnesotans.

House debates a second resolution to terminate Minnesota's peacetime emergency 4/14/20

“I am shocked — with lives on the line in Minnesota, with thousands of our citizens at risk of death and certainly far more at risk of very serious illness — that we are trying to end the measures that are allowing us to outperform the rest of the country in dealing with this crisis,” he said.

During a media availability prior to the floor session, House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said she anticipated Drazkowski’s motion and the ensuing debate, but was confident it would not receive the votes needed to take action. She also expressed her support for Walz’s handling of the crisis.

“I think there's a lot of confidence in the governor's decision making,” she said. “Everybody is anxious for the stay-at-home order to end. Everybody is anxious for the economy to get up and running like normal. ... But we know that the governor is balancing these things and is constantly asking his commissioners these questions and looking at the data and sharing the data with us.”

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